I first met Reverend, Dr. Dale Bisnuth at UG. We were both on the staff. He lectured in history. You could not miss his learning. He had a doctorate and knew his subject in a vastly competent way. Always when we meet, we would talk politics because that was all I wanted to discuss.
After you knew Dale Bisnauth, you had to appreciate him. This was a human being that was very likeable. As the race for free and fair elections under the Desmond Hoyte presidency heated up, someone got to Bisnauth and influenced him to take a public stand. I always thought that Dale was WPA material. His style of politics was classically WPAish. But he ended up helping to form a quasi-political movement named GUARD.
You never know what life has in store for the people of the world. Elections were held in 1992 and Dale was invited to join the PPP Government as Minister of Education. I lost contact with him because he was no longer at UG and as a supporter of the WPA at the time, I lost contact too with friends I had in the PPP because a coolness developed between the WPA and PPP out of the PPP’s government snubbing of the WPA.
During his sojourn with the PPP, I met Dale Bisnauth only twice and both times we talked in his office. One occasion was pleasantly philosophical on both sides. The other one was pleasantly tragic for Bisnauth not me.
I went to see him as Education Minister because his Ministry was unfair to my nephew from Barbados who returned to Guyana to live. There were offering him a place in a third rate high school even though my nephew went to a top Barbadian school.
Dale looked at the equivalency report and said to me, ‘Take this note to Queen’s College.” I said no. I showed him that the equivalency report put the school in Guyana as St. Stanislaus. But he said; “I am offering a Kissoon a place at Queen’s.” I smiled and responded, “Dale, I don’t want this to come back to haunt me, Freddie Kissoon used lines to get his nephew into Queen’s.” That was it. I chose St. Stanislaus and left without further discussion.
The other moment I was in his office was nearing the end of his tenure. He called me in to ask what was happening at UG because he got word that I was about to be fired. I looked at him across the table and felt sad for my country. I knew Guyana was not going to go anywhere if people like Dale had this approach to justice.
Here was the Minister of Education and a senior Cabinet member secretly informing a UG lecturer that he is about to be unfairly sacked and he the Minister with some administrative authority at UG could do nothing about.
Why then did Dale form GUARD and why criticize the PNC Government for similar dismissals when Dale was an outspoken UG lecturer? Weeks later I was fired with Dale’s Permanent Secretary, Hydar Ally voting against me in the UG Council. Poor Dale, he couldn’t stop his PS from victimizing a UG lecturer.
For me, then, he had become a waste as a Minister. I never felt the same way about Dale any longer although I knew he did not agree with my dismissal and had positive feelings about me.
Dale Bisnauth was moved out of the Cabinet after the assumption to power by Bharrat Jagdeo and lived the rest of his life in obscurity. He wrote a weekly column for the PPP newspaper, the Mirror then stopped as he became more and more disenchanted. I had one last conversation with him and that was over the phone. I was doing a eulogy for Dr. Josh Ramsammy after he died and rang Dale to consult on the Government’s mistreatment of Josh because of the independent stand he took at UG as Pro-Chancellor
Dale was livid at the mistreatment of Josh, He shouted over the phone, “You write, you quote me, what Nanda Gopaul told you is nonsense. Josh was removed because he did not take instructions.” (end of quote). I published what Dale told me and never had another word with him.
Six weeks ago, I heard he died at the Georgetown Public Hospital at the A&E
What a tragic life for a top Guyanese historian. His heart was never in politics. His heart was never happy in the PPP. But he was a weak human being. He was under the strong influence of Janet Jagan and be broke from her when she refused to stop the rut. It was too late for him and his country.
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