Cultural activist Ras Michael Jeune dies

Local poet, playwright and cultural activist Ras Michael Jeune died on Wednesday.

Ras Michael, who was 70, spent the majority of his life deeply involved in the cultural and literary traditions of Guyana.

According to fellow playwright Ras Leon Saul, Ras Michael was one of the pioneers of cultural development in Guyana. “He opened doors for peoples like me and paved the way for new creative expression.

Ras Michael during a presentation in 2014 at Moray House (Moray House Trust photo)
Ras Michael during a presentation in 2014 at Moray House (Moray House Trust photo)

He was a dear friend with whom I worked on several productions, including, “Warriors of African Revolution” in the 80s. He was also a founding member of the Guyana Rastafarian Council. He will be missed,” he told Stabroek News on Thursday.

Ras Michael’s daughter, Naddine Saunders, described her father as an energetic and playful individual, who was passionate about his work.

“I can’t begin to grasp the magnitude of what my father was. I saw him through the eyes of a little girl. I know that he was driven and that he brought life into any room he entered. I admire his work but I don’t think I will ever understand its scope,” she told Stabroek News.

Ras Michael, who was a professional writer from the age of 13, was internationally published by three English publishers, including Longman and Heinemann. He was also self-published twice through his company, Black Chant Publishers.

He also established and ran successfully two entities, The Ras Michael School of Writing and The Ras Michael School of Drama. He published a magazine for new writers, called SURVIVAL, for The Demerara Publishers and was a columnist for both the Guyana Chronicle and Stabroek News newspapers.

He is survived by his wife, Donette, daughter Naddine and two grandchildren.

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