Tomorrow Mr Clarence Frederick Ellis will be returned to his beloved village, Queenstown, Essequibo, for burial. Mr Ellis was my friend and I will miss him. I take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt condolences to his family.
I was introduced to Mr Ellis by Dr Cedric Grant back in 2002. The three of us planned a conflict resolution conference at Howard University in Washington DC. Clarence and I worked closely on that event, and we quickly developed a warm friendship.
As Dennis Wiggins noted a few days ago, when we wanted to commence a long-term dialogue on political, economic and cultural development in Guyana, Mr Ellis was the first person contacted. Not only did he agree, but he also became the ‘elderly statesman’ of the group.
The group was diverse and included such persons as Floyd Haynes, David Ram, Richard Van West Charles, Paul Tennassee, Errol Arthur, Mr Semple, and among others, Wiggins, myself, The Big Bird, and of course Mr Ellis.
Our discussions were frank but respectful. Quite often, it was Mr Ellis who had to steer back the conversations to the central questions. Although he had very strong views and a superb intellect, Mr Ellis did not allow his own perspective to overwhelm the proceedings. His contributions were always thoughtful, deliberate, and constructive.
Although Mr Ellis and I did not see eye-to-eye on various issues, we maintained a warm and respectful friendship. He often wrote private notes of encouragement to me and sometimes even circulated some of my own writings on Guyana of his own volition. He did so, not because he necessarily agreed or disagreed with me, but because he wanted real engagement and meaningful debate.
Our friendship was also strengthened because like him, my own roots (from my mother’s side of the family) are in Essequibo. He knew my family, including my uncle Harry who was a close friend of Dr Ptolemy Reid.
Clarence Ellis and I went beyond Guyana in our conversations. We talked a lot of cultural imperialism, the global political economy, Third World politics, and international affairs. I learnt a lot from him.
The time has now come to say farewell to a friend and a patriot.