I read with great sadness in the newspapers about the passing of the academic and literary scholar Kampta Karran. I became acquainted with Kampta Karran in 1997 when I won the Offerings Poetry Award that was organised and administered by him as Editor.
The Offerings Poetry Award was the first literary award I won in Guyana, and it was followed by a number of others. My meeting with Kampta Karran was very fruitful because he told me that my poetry was the best he has read thus far among contemporary Guyanese writers.
He encouraged my literary efforts and motivated me to write in the literary field.
For a number of years, I missed him among the Guyanese literati but heard he was studying and wanted to improve himself in the literary field. Not too long ago, I saw him on television and learnt that he was lecturing at Warwick University in England and the University of Birmingham. In my conversation with him in 1997 and a few other times he told me he wanted to become a Pastor, but ended up studying literature.
I learnt before his sudden demise of a heart attack that he had been ordained a Lutheran priest and was the Pastor of a Lutheran church in New Amsterdam, Berbice. It was a desire he fulfilled before his passing to labour in the Kingdom of God. Very few educated men today would have wanted to give up the prestigious university teaching profession to become a Pastor, since that is not a very well paid job.
What can I say of Kampta Karran? He loved people, education, poetry and the arts, and paid for the Offerings Poetry Award out of his own pocket. His encouragement to me as a writer motivated and inspired me to be an award winning poet/author published internationally. Though the Offerings Poetry Award was not a monetary award he gave me about ten literature books that were more valuable to me than money.
One of the books he gave to me was the Selected Poems of Martin Carter a book that has given me a very comprehensive understanding of our late National Poet Martin Carter. Mr Karran told me as a young writer that reading is the key to success in writing and reading the books I won would help me to become a greater poet and fiction writer. After reading the selected poems of Martin Carter I wrote several scholarly literary essays on his writings.
Kampta Karran’s life ended at age 56 similar to Shakespeare, who lived just 52 years. But it’s not the length of days on earth which matter most in life; what is important is that we fulfil our true purpose and calling. Mr Karran’s life will be a blessing and divine inspiration to many academics and many of his Christian brothers and sisters in the faith.
May God continue to bless his family and relatives in this time of their mourning.
Rev Gideon Cecil