It was with utter shock and consternation that I glanced at the Kaieteur News headline ‘Retired Professor bound, strangled in home’ and learnt it was Professor Pairadeau Mars, known to his friends and colleagues as ‘Perry’. My deepest sympathy is extended to his spouse Joan Mars and all his family. It appears now that everyone in Guyana, from pauper to priest is fair game to crime and criminality of every stripe – from petty theft to hideous murder.
The violence in Guyana is endemic and all theories and ongoing discussion and about its origins and solution(s) have reached a dead end, to put it mildly. It is both national trauma and tragedy. What I can say without any doubt, is that the criminals who committed this act, ate Perry’s food, and made off with his valuables, would not have taken a single book from his home.
Only a few months ago Perry had proposed a web page on Guyanese history to a few of us (former University of Guyana History society members) at home and in the diaspora. We were in communication about various ideas for other projects. He was a fine political analyst, crisp writer and always had an abiding interest in solutions to political and ethnic unity in Guyana. His book Ideology and Change: The Transformation of the Caribbean Left, is a master work for understanding the political complexity of political parties of the left in the Caribbean and Guyana.
He also wrote, among his scores of articles, a piece I was always attracted to, ‘The Guyana Diaspora and Homeland Conflict Resolution’, a powerful treatise on the potential role of the diaspora in Guyana’s affairs. The great irony is that Perry bravely returned to the homeland to write and think about the issues that embodied his life’s work.
When requiring a critical, forensic eye for a draft of any academic paper, I would often send it to Perry. His brilliant mind could easily pick out the weaknesses and his advice was invaluable.
Many moons ago I sold the WPA’s newspaper Dayclean in Prashad Nagar and surrounding areas, and to go to the Mars’ house was always a delight. In typical Guyanese style Perry would advise, tease and remonstrate with me, depending on the content of the Dayclean.
When I think of Perry’s shocking end and the consistency and nature of crime and other tribulations in Guyana I am reminded of the haunting but strikingly prophetic words of Martin Carter in 1963: “The alchemists sought to find the philosopher’s stone which would transmute base metals into gold. Guyanese society contains that which transmutes anything of value into base matter.”