EUSI KWAYANA – Toronto visit – Sept 27 – Oct 6

EUSI KWAYANA – Toronto visit – Sept 27 – Oct 6

Eusi Kwayana – notable Political Activist, Writer, and Educator – is scheduled to be in Toronto for Sept 27 – Oct 6.

 The Community to Assist Buxton/Friendship (COTAB), the Caribbean Studies Program of the University of Toronto, and the Canada – Guyana Forum are requesting your attendance at the events that are listed in the attached “Flyer – Kwayana Visit to Toronto – Events”.

Briefly, the events are:

Sponsored by COTAB

Friday Sept. 28, 6 – 9 PM:       Book signing at the Different Booklist

Sunday Sept. 30th, 5 – 8 PM:  Lecture & Mix’N Mingle session

Sponsored by the Caribbean Studies Program of U of T & the Canada-Guyana Forum

Friday, Oct. 5th, 6 – 9:30 PM – Lecture at University of Toronto

Bro Eusi’s Books and publications will be on sale at each event; only the new “Walter Rodney: His Last Days and Campaigns” will be on sale at the Book Signing event at The Different Booklist bookstore.

The event details are in their respective flyers listed below:  for DOWNLOAD.   

We are in the process of arranging interviews at some radio stations and will provide updates.

Please distribute to all your friends and contacts.

Help us make this tour one to remember !

4 attachments —

Flyer – Kwayana Visit to Toronto – Book Signing.pdf – Download
Flyer – Kwayana Visit to Toronto – COTAB Event.pdf – Download
Flyer – Kwayana Visit to Toronto – Events.pdf  –  Download
Flyer – Kwayana Visit to Toronto – Lecture at UofT.pdf –Download

 

EUSI KWAYANA – Brief Bio: by Michael Parris

Kwayana was born in April 4, 1925 at Lusignan, Guyana and his family moved to Buxton when he was quite young. He became one of Guyana’s most popular, and controversial, political activists, making his entry into the field at the village level during the 1940′s. He joined George Younge, Martin Stephenson, John Abrams, Sam Persaud, Sultan Khan and Jules Perreira in the Ratepayers’ Association in marshaling the fight against Bookers Estates Limited over a canal at back of the village, called “the right of away”, through which the estates transported cane.

The status of Buxton/Friendship as one of Guyana’s premier villages was enhanced by this conflict as it fed into the wider struggle which estate labourers were embroiled with Bookers.

Around 1947, then Sydney King, he became a member of a small group of politicians, led by Dr.Cheddie Jagan. who formed The People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which remains one of the  largest two political parties in Guyana. Dr. Jagan had won the Central Demerara seat of which Buxton/Friendship was part. In 1953, the PPP won a landslide victory in Guyana’s first election under universal adult suffrage, and Kwayana left his job as a school teacher to assume the position of Minister of Communication and Works.

Unfortunately, the British government suspended the constitution and threw the PPP out of office, after 133 days, in October, 1953. Thereafter Kwayana featured in several and varied roles among which: as a political detainee for fear that he and others would cause civil unrest; holding vigil outside the governor’s residence protesting against his biased action against some of the citizens; executive membership of both major political parties, the PPP and the People’s National Congress (PNC); composer of the anthems of both parties. During all of this, Kwayana, a most dedicated teacher, found time to provide lessons for hundreds of students, most of them indigent.

Perhaps one of the most outstanding aspects of his political activism was his proposal that, because of the widening racial divide among Guyanese, thought should be given to the adoption of a constitution not dissimilar to that of Cyprus. Both leaders of the main political parties, Jagan and Burnham, perceiving this as being inimical to his chances of winning the elections, vigorously opposed the proposal and instead emphasised what Kwayana warned could be the outcome of the growing ethnic conflict i.e. the possibility of partition. As a consequence, many persons who have never read what Kwayana wrote or said on the issue, repeat this distorted report.

Kwayana co-founded The African Society for Racial Equality (ASRE), and later, The African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa (ASCRIA) which became part of The Working People’s Alliance in 1974. Here, he worked closely with the late Walter Rodney and was a member of WPA’s collective leadership.  As a WPA member, he played a pivotal role in the struggle for democratic restoration and free and fair elections.

Kwayana has authored several books, booklets, monographs and articles. His best known works are Next Witness, Scars of Bondage, Guyana: No Guilty Race, Buxton in Print and Memory, Morning After, and Genesis of a Nation: The Indo-Guyanese Contribution to Social Change (in Guyana).  He also wrote the lyrics of the party songs of the PPP, PNC and WPA.

Kwayana’s retired from parliament in 2002 and migrated in June of that year San Diego, California.  He last visited Toronto in 2001 to attend the funeral of his niece’s husband.

This visit then presents a unique opportunity for Guyanese and all others in the Diaspora.  COTAB, the Caribbean Studies Program of the University of Toronto, and the Canada – Guyana Forum urge you to attend.

Please call COTAB at 416-431-0273 or, 416-820-9200, or, the Caribbean Studies Program of U of T & the Canada-Guyana Forum at 416-978-8286 or 416-439-8617 for event details.

Michael Parris

Executive Committee Member, COTAB

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Comments

  • guyaneseonline  On September 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Recalling a visit to Bro. Eusi Kwayana in the 80s.
    By Wayne Jones.
    As I wrestle with life’s accumulated disappointments, and seek that inner-connectedness to buffer the full impact of their side effects, I sometimes wish for a gritty attitude of calm composure, which I know could help greatly. And then my mind might run right back to a visit I made to Bro. Eusi Kwayana back in the early 80s, at his Buxton Middle Walk residence,
    That visit was on my mind all that day. Then about 7.00pm I departed my north-side home for Eusi’s. I double-checked my watch to see if it was working properly. And it seemed correct. For a very late show for a Eusi appointment can be disastrous, sometimes. As I walked swiftly passed those refreshment shops along the way I tried to make sure that folks like Toyee and Urgie did not see me, and call me. For I know how allergic Eusi is to fermented fragrances. I arrived, and gently knocked on his door, my shoes already cast aside. He opened up and greeted me with a merry ‘Jambo‘. I returned same and he offered me a cushioned seat, adjacent to two fine pieces of sculptures.
    “Jambo, Sister Tchaiko,” I softly said.
    “Sister Tchaiko is at Lessons Place and is due home later,” he said.
    Then we began our conversation. While I was labouring on a point, Eusi rose from his seat, moved to his library and started looking for something that he might have just remembered. I stopped talking. And he assured me that he was listening, implying too, that he does not have to stare at me to hear me.
    He returned to his seat with a text, browsing it as we chatted. Then he earmarked a page and put the book aside, giving me the impression that he is now fully with me. With arms folded, legs crossed, he listened keenly before any response. He was now looking at me, which to me felt as if he was looking through me.
    “Bro. Wayne, can I offer you a glass of warm cow’s milk?”
    “Yes, you can Bro. Eusi.”
    During all this time his radio, in the background was on ‘Radio Caracas.` As I sipped my treat and still chatting, Eusi shifted his gaze to his radio, with a glint of surprise or alarm; but I kept on talking. After my point was made and his response given, he then shared with me the news that there was another coup in Bolivia. I asked about Bolivia, which led to a mini-discussion on military interventions in Bolivia and Latin America in general – a good diversion.
    Since I am on diversion; just weeks later I visited his office at Rodney House. He was holding a press briefing for the local media. During the post- briefing he signalled to me. He asked me if I could mobilize folks in Annandale for him to conduct Swahili lessons for the following Sunday at 4.00pm, at Sister Currie’s residence. I agreed; but I was looking to see if he would jot down that in his diary. He did not.

    I went, however, and organized the folks. On that Sunday I left home for that Swahili session in deep anxiety, hoping Bro. Eusi remembered his lessons appointment. As I made a nervous right turn into Sister Currie` street, there was Bro. Eusi making his left turn at the other end. That is the way of good multi-tasking…. and my BP must have taken a big nose dive. Oh yes!
    And I almost ran into big problems in recent times, in Canada with my Swahili.
    I overheard a round-features cashier in a store telling someone that she’s from Kenya; so the next morning I showed up in the store to see how far I could get. As I entered the store that morning, I went up to her with a big ‘Jambo‘. She responded with a bigger one, before launching a Swahili display that sounded as if it had local news content and commentary on the Canadian weather. After a while, she paused and waited for my response. I told her that that greeting was all I knew. We both erupted into loud laughter and I explained how and where I learned it. The laughter continued and we became good friends, thereafter.
    That’s what any discussion with or about Bro. Eusi does. It can propel or direct itself to many angles. He is a man of so many parts, so many interests, and so many talents. And I am yet to meet a local flesh-eating male or female with that good combination of calm, order, span, care, wit, cheer, drive and grace. I can recall Bro. Eusi, a long-standing vegetarian, saying that he tries to use time as efficiently as possible. Sometimes, you could see him marking school books or studying parliamentary papers during the short taxi trips between the City and Buxton.
    And as we were rapping up our meeting that evening, Bro. Eusi gathered up a bundle of literature and offered me. It included recent editions of the Times Literary Supplement and The Economist. As I accepted it, he said,“Pass them on when you are through.” We shook hands. He thanked me for visiting and hoped , “Walk good Bro. Wayne, and my regards to your home-circle.”
    Merrily, merrily I left Bro. Eusi`s residence, very gladdened that a very humanizing session had just ended; and then looking around, on my way home, for the likes of Toyee or Urgie for a little celebration.

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