I was going through the profile of prominent Guyanese and I was amazed to learn that no national honour has been bestowed on 88-year-old Eusi Kwayana, one of the most distinguished and knowledgeable Guyanese, who wrote the lyrics of the party songs of Guyana’s three political parties, the People’s Progressive Party, (PPP) the People’s National Congress, (PNC) and the Working People’s Alliance (WPA).
Formerly Sydney King, he served as Minister of Communications and Works following the first general elections under universal adult suffrage in 1953. The only other minister from that period who is alive today is Ashton Chase, and he is a recipient of the country’s highest award, the Order of Excellence, and so were Forbes Burnham, Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan who served as Presidents of the Republic. The other ministers were JP Latchmansingh, and Jainarine Singh who died decades ago.
Kwayana is a remarkable man and was in politics for more than seven decades, starting at the village level. He was with Jagan and Burnham when the PPP was formed and was one of the political detainees because of the colonial fear that they would cause civil unrest. He was an executive member of both the PPP and the PNC and was one of the founders of the WPA.
He co-founded the African Society for Racial Equality (ASRE) and later, the African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa (ASCRIA) which in 1974 became part of the WPA. He was a member of the WPA’s collective leadership and worked closely with the late Walter Rodney. He is the author of several books including Next Witness, Scars of Bondage, Guyana: No Guilty Race, Buxton in Print and Memory, Morning After, Genesis of a Nation: The Indo-Guyanese Contribution to Social Change [in Guyana] and Walter Rodney: His Last Days and Campaigns.
The aged teacher/historian/politician who has been described as “unique,” eccentric and even am odd human being, is an outspoken person who in my view seeks justice for all persons.
Contrary to what some people feel, Eusi is not a racial person who seeks a better life for Afro Guyanese, but looks at the interest of the oppressed regardless of ethnicity. He is a remarkable man who does not appreciate a fancy lifestyle and is not interested in accumulating wealth.
He has served the country well, and it is amazing that the administrations (both the PNC and the PPP) have not seen it fit to bestow a national honour on him. What else can a person do to be recognized by his country? Top folklorist Wordsworth McAndrew and Hugh Cholomondeley who placed radio broadcasting in Guyana on the map have been ignored as well, while friends of politicians are given high national honours.