Nov 03, 2008 Letters
It was Andrew Jackson who said “One man with courage makes a majority”. So it was with David DeCaires, an extraordinary son of the soil. David DeCaires was a man of courage, integrity, vision, competence, humility and good-heartedness.
He was one of Guyana’s extraordinary leaders, whose dream of a fair and just Guyana — a dream and ideal he had fought for during his life — has not been reached. David DeCaires was a nationalist in the truest of senses, and I deeply regret he will not be here to realise this dream deferred.
I met David during 1991 through my friend Stanley Ming, and had many conversations with David during the establishment of the Reform Group.
David’s candour and clarity of thought have always been the hallmark of our conversations.
During the seven letters of the African Renaissance, I benefited significantly from his editing of my letters. Some of his editing I disagreed with. Through some of his editing, I learned to appreciate David’s legal instincts, his editorial brilliance, his keen grasp of ideas, his “thought leadership,” and his dedication. David always returned or answered my calls, and my respect for him is without boundary. He was a good debater and a man who understood my only goal was the one he was fighting for – “a Guyana in which all races and creeds are treated justly and with dignity”.
The last time I spoke with David DeCaires was at the wake of Kenneth King in August. We chatted about democracy, and about the IDB Programme for youths of Agricola, Buxton and Albouystown. He promised to come speak with them. His passing is their loss, and I hope some of them will come to learn and appreciate David’s leadership and commitment.
I will always remember David DeCaires for his intellectual gifts and the respect he offered to my ideas. David was a “good man”. He did not live to see an Obama victory nor the 20/20 cricket match, but I am certain he would have cherished both.
I cannot end my tribute to David without reflecting on the lives of extraordinary people in our society. Christopher Ram, a few months ago, presented a long list of individuals who fought for “free and fair elections” in Guyana.
Often, I think about such individuals, and especially those I interact with, such as Eusi Kwayana, Philip Moore, Yesu Persaud, Violet Jean-Baptiste, Tacuma Ogunseye, Andaiye, Magda Pollard, Mike McCormack, Joyce Loncke, Rupert Roopnarine, Joycelyn Dow, David Grainger, Joseph Singh, Hugh Cholmondeley, and others who daily strive to make Guyana a better place and whose sacrifices go unnoticed or criticised by those who do nothing.
David DeCaires, like many of these champions, should be awarded the highest national honours when they are alive.
One of the great tragedies of our time is that great Guyanese are passing on without the proper national appreciation they have fought and died for. We need our youth to understand and praise the life of our Eusi Kwayanas.
The passing of David DeCaires, Kenneth King and other extraordinary champions must help to rekindle the fire in hearts to seek a better Guyana, and to seek it with more urgency. I know many of the “old tigers” are weary and disillusioned.
I urge them to continue their valiant battles, for, as Martin Luther King once said: “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant”.
On behalf of the African Cultural and Development Association, I extend deepest condolences to David’s wife, family, and staff members. We, like many Guyanese here and abroad, will miss David, as he was an integral part of Guyanese daily conscience. Be proud you were a part of his intimate life.
To David, rest in peace, knowing your fight and quest are also ours. You are a Guyanese hero and a champion. May your vision, humanity and life works remain a lasting legacy to Guyanese of all races. May your passing empower those who are tired, and reignite in all of us the flames of “equality and justice” this country so desperately needs.
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