A citizen of outstanding intellectual and public morality

Dear Editor,

Like all Guyanese, we like to share tit-bits about our memories or encounters with our national heroes. Dr Joshua Ramsammy was a patriot and national hero. He was a tall and elegant man who looked at you straight into your eyes until the conversation was over. He was down to earth and a good listener.

I spoke at a teach-In at UG in 1970 titled ‘Canada on Trial.’ After the meeting, Zinul Bacchus and Tage Singh approached me to invite me to a Ratoon Group meeting on the advice of Josh. At his home, I attended a meeting where I met Walter Rodney for the first time. At that meeting, Walter Rodney advised the group to form a political party. I was teaching at Gandhi Educational Institute and organizing cells at high schools in the Georgetown area with Joseph Ragnauth of the Guyana Human Rights and Students Association. A student organized a bottom house meeting on the West Coast and Josh was the speaker. On our journey back to Georgetown, he commented that it was Ratoon’s first bottom house and that we must intensify those meetings. He was very elated with the response and feedback. I had heard him speak before with BH Benn at a forum. They were both sympathetic to Mao’s China.

The night before I left to study in the UK, I visited him. As soon as I entered his home, he said to me that it was urgent that we begin to organize a political party because he had a very strong feeling that the regime will make an attempt on his life. He did not want to go under and no organization was in place to continue the struggle. I told him that I was there to let him know that I was leaving to continue my studies. A few months later, he was gunned-down. Hundreds of Guyanese, relatives and non-relatives, were at Mercy Hospital offering their blood if he needed transfusion. His brother Herman with another doctor operated on him. All waited until they heard that the surgery was succesful.

In1982, when I returned to work at UG, I rented his house at Ogle. His home reflected his personality. It was open and air circulated freely. He was an environmentalist. I had a hammock as my main piece of furniture. The photos I have with friends at his home are treasured. I know that Guyanese did not see him through the race lens, but simply as Dr Joshua Ramsammy: patriot, revolutionary, educator and environmentalist. He was a citizen of outstanding intellectual and public morality.

May I express my deepest sympathy to his surviving siblings and immediate family.

Yours faithfully,
Paul Nehru Tennassee

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