May I extend my sympathy to the family of Dr Joshua Ramsammy on his passing.
I got to know Joshua Ramsammy during the turbulent, fiery period of WPA activism and the many trade union activities in which the bauxite workers of Linden were constantly involved. I remembered well his presentation at CCWU (I think) when the major unions were contemplating breaking away from the TUC to form the now FITUG, and other presentations at political rallies and the June 13 Walter Rodney anniversary. I am not one from his bunch in any way or form whatsoever, and do not claim to know him well, though I did somewhat, and that was mainly because of my association with the WPA, and political and trade union involvement.
I must say how honoured I felt when he thought it best to send me a very important document on waste disposal and its effect/impact at the time when the foreign waste project that was being proposed for Linden was creating a storm. With his permission I reprinted and circulated it.
I can only say, like most have said, and with sincerity that of the few times I’ve been around him, I found him to be humble, affable, very often quiet and without fuss, qualities which are rarely found in many intellectuals. All that aside Editor, I want to say a word or two on what I have noted at least two writers mention in their tribute to him: that he had sort of given up − lost hope. Nigel Westmaas in Stabroek News on Monday, February 16, talked about “his conspicuous cynicism”; “this pessimism” he wrote, “I can only assume emerged late in his life and was a reflection of his experienced sojourn with Guyana’s political and social decay.” He further likened his cynicism to “been there, done that with little effect; these folks and this process (through several regimes) are unlikely to change.”
There are struggles to which a person from time to time dedicates his/her life with no illusions, but with the understanding that it might be protracted and s/he may not live to see that change, but harbours the belief or the faith that one day it will come. A twinkling of evidence and a spark of hope dwells in them and sustains them; a voice inside constantly reminds them that a ‘change is gonna come.’
But if or when that voice dies, the ‘warrior’ too also dies. According to the writers, maybe Joshua Ramsammy had become battle weary and quietly resigned himself, took a back seat and silently looked on at the charade as the light/voice inside of him grew dimmer until its final extinction. Was he grieving on the inside for something he struggled for, but finally came to the pitiful conclusion that it will never come, never? Could this have been a stress factor that weighed on him somewhat – “his conspicuous cynicism” − and that it quickened his transition?
But he played his part.