…A patriotic Guyanese for all seasons
To family members, Ranji Chandisingh was a father, husband, grandfather and friend; to both the PPP and the PNC he was a respected patriot who served Guyana’s best interest; but to all who knew him, near and far, he was a man for all seasons.
He was dead at 79.
Yesterday, though not in their thousands, a cross section of politicians, socialites and culturalists, gathered under the Umana Yana with the relatives in mostly sombre and reflective tones to celebrate the life of ‘a man of substance.’
Ranji Chandisingh, outstanding politician and educator, former Member of Parliament, former Vice President and Minister of Government, former Deputy General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party and former General Secretary of the People’s National Congress, was born January 5, 1930 to the late Dr Charles Washington and Amelia Chandisingh.
As the opened varnished casket lay at the centre of the Umana Yana, tributes varied and brought mostly smiles to the faces of family members. But tears did flow from relatives when vocalist Cleon Cadogan, in tribute, rendered the classic “My way” which many agreed summed up the life of the astute man who walked with kings but did not lose the common touch.
Monday last, in the quiet of the day, before sunset, Ranji Chandisingh, a distinguished son of the soil and patriot, met life’s necessary and inevitable end at his Waterloo Street residence.
He had spent about 50 years in dedicated service to country and family and was enjoying a quiet retirement with his wife and family at the time.
Charted accountant, Christopher Ram could not have had a more mannerly, classically polite and disciplined, yet private neighbour to his business for 20 years. He said that although the man had left the stage, he remained very much interested in the current affairs of his homeland.
He described Chandisingh as a man deeply committed to Guyana; a man who chose his words carefully and was punctual to a fault. Ram, like the many who offered tributes, lauded the late politician for his impeccable integrity, patience, tolerance and insightful comments on topical issues.
Walter Beepat, a former politician turned pastor and friend of the Candisinghs for more than 40 years, described his friend’s passing as “a sad day for Guyana.”
He noted, too, that there is none to whom he can point in the current day local political sphere that equals or betters the great values that made his friend stand out as “a man to look up to.”
Describing his friend as “a man of compassion” Beepat said that despite his sternness, he was humble and ever approachable. With reference to a fond caviar treat in Russia, Beepat stated that unlike some he encountered, while in Russia, Chandisingh “did not forget me.”
Tributes by e-mail were many too, and among those was Hamid Khans recollection of a soft spoken, thoughtful individual who served his nation with pride and dignity in his roles of Deputy Prime Minister and Vice President of Guyana under the PNC administration and also as Guyana’s ambassador to Russia.
Another tribute described the late Chandisingh as a lost of a great, impeccable personality for Guyana, while another described him as an Icon whose works and memory should be remembered and preserved for posterity.
Reginald Che-a-tow in his written tribute, stated Chandisingh was an illustrious patriot whose love for country was above party and politics, while his humility and accountability was obvious through his availability to all subordinates.
He also stated that though he was ruffled at times, he never lost his calm.
The Guyana Water Inc described the late man of substance as a national hero who simply must be remembered through his works as Guyana grapples with the void created by his demise.
Dr Richard Van-West Charles, who was the late politician’s Cabinet colleague in 1980, shared Chandisingh’s many outstanding attributes and said he paid keen attention to details and was a firm but fair politician. He recalled that when his father-in-law, Forbes Burnham died, Chandisingh showed rare but subdued emotions as he had great respect and admiration for the late leader.
He said, too, that much legacy is left of his service and commitment which he says should be used as an example to emulate.
Vincent Alexander, speaking for the Burnham foundation, and who worked with and under Chandisingh’s direction, described his fallen comrade as a gem for Guyana’s history who was extremely humble and focussed on tasks.
“He was to me a true patriot who always aimed to put Guyana first and never displayed opportunism, a Guyana man that we need to talk about void of race. He lived for Guyana,” Alexander said.
Mayor Hamilton Green said that he possessed magnificent intellectual proportions that equates with an icon.
To Mayor Green, Chandisingh was one of the lot who contributed to the making of Guyana and remained a solid patriot to the day of his demise, yet he was a family man par excellence.
He said the late politician personified attributes of a calm yet articulate wise man that possessed serenity that made him a philosopher who articulated with integrity. With agreement from some in the audience,
Green said Chandisingh did not run after earthly riches and was a man that “we must emulate.”
The Harvard graduate was one of the prominent leaders of PPP in the 1960s to the 1970s, who was a model and an unceasing gentlemen, according to PPP party general secretary, Donald Ramotar.
He said that so strong was his love for his country that he did not hesitate to return home from England and serve in the PPP Government of the 1960s, during which period he performed with distinction during a difficult period is Guyana’s history.
He remembered that Chandisingh was one of two who laid what is now known as the Trade Union Recognition Bill in Parliament.
Ramotar noted, too, that Chandisingh made an important contribution to the PPP and the country, and in difficult times he called and encouraged the party to “keep a cool head.”
Ramotar said that he was a part of that generation who struggled against colonialism for independence. He played a role in the fight for democracy, after independence as can be seen in his writings on civil liberties, democracy and socialism.
Opposition leader, Robert Corbin, described the former PNC Deputy Prime Minister and Harvard graduate as tolerant and an example of what human beings can achieve with commitment, dedication and humbleness.
Corbin expressed the hope that Guyana would forge ahead with what the PNC former General secretary thought was best for Guyana.
He said Chandisingh was both a credit and a blessing to the nation.
Stacy Chandisingh, the granddaughter, read several messages from relatives in Trinidad, but that spoke of the great things Chandisingh did. Her emotions overcame her to the extent that her father, Yuri Chandisingh, had to step in to comfort and complete the task.
As strong as he was emotionally for his family, he could not hold back his love for his father as he offered contemplations that resulted in his voice breaking.
Among his recollections, the man whom his father named after a Russian cosmonaut (Yuri Gagarin) had no memory of experiencing the rod of correction from his father.
The acting GWI Chief Executive Officer said that his father loved people and used other strategic methods to ensure that he completed his sums as he was extremely firm but fair.
Fighting tears and clutching his daughter, he ended his contemplations stating “I love you dad. Mom and I and the children love you very much, farewell.”
Ranji Chandisingh was laid to rest in the Le Repentir cemetery.
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