Cheddi Jagan was not present at UG’s inauguration in 1963

Dear Editor,

The article captioned ‘Politics still holding back UG  -Ramotar’ (Stabroek News, October 2, 2013) states, “In her remarks to the gathering, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand read the speech made by the late president Cheddi Jagan at the institution’s inauguration in 1963.”

As a member of the class of 1963 who attended the inauguration ceremony of the university, I wish to point out that Dr Cheddi Jagan was out of the country at the time and his speech was read by Mr B H Benn, then Deputy Premier.

In writing about the inauguration in the book The University of Guyana, Perspectives on the Early History (published by the UG Guild of Graduates, Ontario, 2002), Dr Harold Drayton, the person who transformed Dr Jagan’s vision into reality, notes, “It was indeed a colourful occasion with the Vice-Chancellor and faculty in full academic regalia, the Chancellor Edgar Mortimer Duke in his splendid legal attire; and on the platform, the Deputy Premier Brindley Benn, the Minister of Education Vernon Nunes, the Leader of the Opposition Forbes Burnham, the Governor Sir Ralph Grey and other dignitaries. My only regret was that priority political demands overseas made it impossible for Cheddi and Janet Jagan to be present at that historic occasion.”

Yours faithfully,
Harry Hergash

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