Eusi Kwayana Toronto visit and brief Bio – by Michael Parris

Eusi Kwayana’s planned visit to Toronto (Sep 27-Oct6,2012) with a brief Bio written by Michael Parris.

Eusi Kwayana, formerly named Sydney King, is scheduled to be visit Toronto during September 27 to October 6, 2012, as a guest of The Committee to Assist Buxton/Friendship (COTAB), which has been operating here since 2000.  He will be featured at events sponsored by COTAB, the Caribbean Studies Program of the University of Toronto, and the Canada – Guyana Forum.

Briefly, the events are:

Sponsored by COTAB

Friday Sept. 28, 6 – 9 PM:       Book Signing at the Different Booklist (746 Bathurst, Toronto)

Sunday Sept. 30th, 5 – 8 PM:  Lecture & Mix’N Mingle session (St. John the Divine Anglican Church, 885 Scarborough Golf Club Rd)                  

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 (Wilson Hall, 1016, New College, 40 Willcocks St.)

Kwayana’s Books and publications will be on sale at each event; only his new “Walter Rodney: His Last Days and Campaigns” will be on sale at the Book Signing.

Event details can be gleaned at:

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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  • KEITH EASTON  On 09/20/2012 at 1:54 am

    This is a great opportunity for all to meet,greet and listen to Eusi Kwayana in Canada and hear about and purchase his publications. Cotab is doing a wonderful job of sponsorship.

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 09/20/2012 at 10:20 am

    Congrats to Eusi our elderly statesman for the impending visit to the Toronto. May you enlighten our folks there on the numerous activities cultural and otherwise that you are engaged in so that Peace and stability can return to this once peaceful Paradise of a country.Afterall you have been an integral part of Guyana’s Cultural and Political life since 1956, when you Martin Carter and LFS walked away from the PPP to form the PNC.

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