Andaiye’s numerous contributions to Guyana should be on the official historical record

Dear Editor,

Andaiye is a name to remember. Her name is synonymous with the struggles for freedom, democracy and the civil and political and economic rights for all Guyanese.

I first came to know Andaiye from the days of the Movement Against Oppression (MAO). That was in the late 60s and early 70s. She had just returned from Jamaica where she studied at the University of the West Indies at Mona.

Andaiye was one of the more prominent woman members of MAO. At that time, she was in the teaching profession.

Other women were Bonita Bone, now Harris, Diana Matthews and Mrs Ramcharran-Fraser.

MAO’s membership at that time included Eusi Kwayana, Joshua Ramsammy, Omawale, Clive Thomas, Errol Fraser, Maurice Odle, Sase Omo, Brian Rodway, Marc Mathews and Alfred Jadunath, among others.

I represented the PPP at meetings of MAO held on Sunday mornings at its headquarters in the Tiger Bay area of Georgetown. Andaiye was a persistent fighter for women’s rights and for national and social liberation of oppressed peoples around the world. She was an internationalist in her world outlook.

When the WPA opened its London office in 1982, Andaiye was appointed External Secretary.

According to a WPA press release issued in March 1982, ‘As External Secretary of the Party, Andaiye will work in close cooperation with support groups, anti-dictatorial parties and organisations as well as other liberation and democratic forces in the interests of the Guyanese people.’

Andaiye was instrumental in securing consultative membership for the WPA in The Socialist International.

On her return from London to Guyana April 1983, she immediately plunged into the national struggles for basic human rights, equality and social justice, which brought her into direct confrontation with the Burnham dictatorship.

As one of the leading lights of the WPA, Andaiye was in the forefront, as the anti-dictatorial struggles intensified with the arrival of Walter Rodney in Guyana.

In July of 1979, trumped up charges were brought against Andaiye and four of her colleagues for their alleged involvement in the burning down of the Office of the General Secretary of the PNC and the Ministry of National Mobilization housed in the same building.

Facing constant harassment, threats and victimisation throughout that entire period up to the assassination of Walter on June 13, 1980 and long after, Andaiye never gave up the fight, concentrating on women’s affairs and other social and political issues.

In the political struggle as well as in her personal struggle with her illness, Andaiye was, in effect, the living translation of Bob Marley’s ‘Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights, get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight’.

Andaiye was an integral part of the struggles for free and fair elections and the restoration of democracy in her country. She championed that struggle wherever she went.

As International Secretary of the PPP, I had the good fortune to participate in some international events with Andaiye; she was, at the time, External Secretary of the WPA.

Andaiye was a thought provoking, cool and calm person to work with, through whom I was able to appreciate some of the tactical and philosophical differences between the PPP and the WPA at that time.

Andaiye was a dignified, Black intellectual woman who, while holding her head high, always had her feet firmly on the ground. That is why there was a huge outcry when state security personnel carried out searches at the home of Dr Frank Williams (Andaiye’s father) and Andaiye herself.

It is to be regretted that women of the stature, strength and fortitude like Andaiye are denied due recognition for their contribution to the economic and social liberation of the Guyanese people even now with her party being an integral part of the coalition administration.

The PPP has to take some responsibility for this lapse as well, having been in government for 23 years.

But two wrongs do not make a right.

The lapse must be corrected.

Since the PNC was prepared to accept the WPA as part of APNU, then it follows it should have no difficulty giving due recognition to Andaiye contribution and placing her in her well-deserved and rightful place in our country’s official historical record.

Yours faithfully,

Clement J. Rohee

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