A tribute to Elsa Mansell

Dear Editor,
Elsa Ann Mansell died peacefully on the night of January 17, 2013 in Oxfordshire, England. She was 89 and had been ill for some time, cared for devotedly by her niece Susan. So ended a Guyana life that must not pass unnoticed.

Elsa seems to have been by my side for most of my working life – in Georgetown and in London; but  her civil service vintage is years older. Elsa Mansell was one of the first Guyanese young women to have made it to the top of the secretarial ladder in the British Guiana days.

With Independence in1966 and the establishment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs she was a natural for this new environment in which she flourished becoming eventually, Chief of Protocol. I was in charge of the Ministry as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Elsa was by my side.

A special memory is of Elsa doing the honours for Guyana at Timehri and Umana Yana as our many distinguished guests arrived and were made welcome to the Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers Meeting of 1974 – perhaps the high-point of our country’s internationalism.

When Elsa retired from the Civil Service I was already in London as Commonwealth Secretary General and facing our greatest challenge in relation to the struggle against apartheid. The Commonwealth was sending its Eminent Persons Group to South Africa – a mission which called for the highest diplomatic skills – and was to precipitate the end of apartheid. It also called for very special talents in the Group’s support team and I looked for Elsa and her unique qualities. She came to London – and never left, taking over from another incomparable Guyanese of Elsa’s vintage, Greta Cummings, as my Personal Assistant

When I retired from the Commonwealth Secretariat in 1990, Elsa ran the little office I established in London from 1990 to 2006 – when we both retired. There is so much I could not have done without her.
Elsa Mansell was a Guyana gem. I treasure her memory; and so should we all.
Yours faithfully,
Shridath Ramphal

More in Letters

default placeholder

Bid Protest Committee ‘resignation’

Dear Editor, The Stabroek News article captioned ‘Chair of Bid Protest Committee resigns’ published in its July 27, 2016 edition is false.

default placeholder

Ministry of Public Infrastructure has budgeted for work on Leguan roads to begin in August

Dear Editor, Reference is made to the letter published in the Monday July 25, edition of the Stabroek News by Mr Hans M Buer, under the headline ‘Leguan roads are in a terrible state’.

default placeholder

Indigenous patient who broke bone on July 20 told by GPH to return August 8 for setting

Dear Editor, For years Indigenous people have struggled to cope with the health system which seems to have been designed without our people in mind.

default placeholder

Prof Persaud had a distinguished career in the Commonwealth Secretariat

Dear Editor, It was only last week in one of my pieces I mentioned that there are a few outstanding Guyanese in the diaspora.

default placeholder

Passengers treated with utter contempt at the Essequibo ferry stellings

Dear Editor, I don’t know why more people who travel on the Parika to Supenaam ferry service aren’t writing to defend the gentleman who was made to wait several hours, while other people who came after him were allowed to board the ferry.

default placeholder

Public expectation of politicians has hardened

Dear Editor, It is with surprise that one reads of reaction to the structure, functioning and legal basis of the anti-corruption unit SOCU, and of reservations about SARU.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: