Veteran broadcaster Rafiq Khan passes away – updated

Veteran broadcaster Rafiq Khan passes away

Rafiq Khan

Rafiq Khan

Guyanese broadcaster Rafiq Khan passed away in Kingston, Jamaica on October 10. He was 82.

Khan was highly regarded in the field of broadcasting and played a significant role in what was considered a golden period of radio in Guyana. He was a former Programme Director of Radio Demerara (1956) which was later merged into the state broadcaster.

Later, he became Management Consultant to the Rediffusion Group of Broadcasting Systems in the Caribbean. After resigning from the Company in 1978, he served regional communication organizations in various positions. 

In 1979, he began a period of 13 years with UNESCO, 10 of them as Regional Communication Adviser for the Caribbean. It was subsequent to this that he had his most recent formal connection with Guyana. In 1992, when the PPP/C government took office, Khan was invited to prepare a report on media issues. Though well received, many of the recommendations in the report were ignored.

In recent years, Khan delivered tributes on  the passing of several well-known local broadcasters including Olga Lopes-Seales, Ayube Hamid and Hugh Cholmondeley. Earlier this year, he delivered the obituary on the passing at another of radio’s well known figures, Terry Holder.

The following is a section of the SN report carried on his obituary for Holder in January this year.

“Terry was passionate about this loss of standards and despaired that it may be beyond reclaim. He feared that the mediocrity of yesterday had become the excellence of today. This insight brought to mind these words of a poet, slightly misquoted:

“Degradation is a monster of so frightful mien

As to be hated needs to be seen.

Yet, seen too often, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace”.

“The question therefore becomes: How can a generation that has embraced degraded values be made to recognize perennial excellence?” Khan asked

“Fossils like me are long forgotten. But Hugh Cholmondeley strove, failed and is gone. Terry Holder agonized, failed and is now gone. And what of my other proteges – Vic Insanally, Ron Robinson, Rovin Deodat, Carlton James, who are still among you? Perhaps it is more expedient to send them too into pre-mature fossilage?

“Terry Holder, among the last holdouts from an era when standards really mattered, lamented what has become of his beloved country as a whole…while I, an ancient mariner with a narrower perspective, have been searching in vain, amidst the tawdriness of a garbage and concrete jungle, for the Garden City of my youth.

“Is anyone even noticing that the philistines are taking over our city and our country? Even in the little elegant avenue where Terry and I last lived, I see the philistines rising.

“And I am left to wonder how paltry is any tribute of soon-forgotten words to such as Terence Holder? How long will we ignore our prophets? When will we gather the collective will to stand behind them and say: Enough?” Khan asked.

Khan was admitted to the University of West Indies Hospital on Thursday, October 9, with an apparent chikungunya infection. He died early Friday morning, October 10.

His eldest son, Rafiq Junior, said his father was an “iconic broadcaster” but he was “more of a good father” who loved his family. Rafiq Junior said his father would be cremated in Jamaica in accordance with his wishes. “This came as a shock to my brother and me, because only yesterday [Thursday] I spoke to him,” he said. “But apparently the chikungunya triggered other complications within him.”

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Some other articles on Rafiq Khan compiled by the St. Stanislaus College Blog:

Rafiq Khan   –  Posted: 11 Oct 2014 06:05 AM PDT

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  • compton de castro  On 10/11/2014 at 7:48 am

    Very honest and encouraging read.
    Unfortunately or fortunately time waits for no one.
    We must move forward with the changes necessary
    to re-invent that pride in our next generation of guyanese.
    One must look inwardly if outward change is to follow.
    It comes from the heart influenced by mind decided by both.

    The stage is set ..let the play begin…guyanese will have to
    decide their destiny. NOT OUTSIDERS like myself who will
    not wish to return ‘permanently’….our world is much too
    volatile /violent and mobile today than yesterday and more so
    RIP Rafiq KHAN

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 10/11/2014 at 1:06 pm

    Death takes us all. Rafiq Khan’s legacy to the Guyanese people will live on.

  • guyaneseonline  On 10/12/2014 at 10:01 am

    Rafiq Khan was a consummate broadcaster
    OCTOBER 12, 2014 · Stabroek News- Letters from Ronald Sanders
    Dear Editor,

    I learnt of Rafiq Khan’s passing with a profound sense of sadness. He and I were rivals when we managed radio stations that competed for audiences and advertising revenue in the 1970s in an era where television did not exist and radio was the only form of electronic communication. But we were also friends. We both recognised that added value was brought to broadcasting in Guyana by the spirited efforts we made to have our stations outperform themselves in high quality programming.

    But amidst our exciting rivalry, we also enjoyed engaging co-operation. Together, we started the Guyana Publishing and Broadcasting Association to set and self-regulate high standards for the media and to draw up a code for advertising.

    Beyond that, we found easy ground on which to agree that joint coverage by the radio stations of important events better served the interests of the Guyana public.

    Our friendship endured after our Guyana sojourn when he was a Communications Consultant for Unesco and I served as an elected member of its Executive Board. Rafiq took to his communications role in the Caribbean, the same passion, vision, intellect, and managerial skill that was so plainly obvious in Guyana.

    In more recent years, Rafiq lived in Jamaica where I called on him whenever I visited. In every visit our conversations resumed as if time had not passed in between, except when he lost his wife – his childhood sweetheart and life-long friend. He was never quite the same after that. But, he never lost his interest in broadcasting – and particularly in Guyana – once asking me, by email which I still have, if I thought the authorities in Guyana would accept an offer from him, Hugh Cholmondeley and me to conduct training programmes.

    He was a consummate broadcaster. Possessed of a mellifluous voice, he knew that excellence in broadcasting required preparation and diligence. He was a voracious reader and his attention to detail even in what appeared to be a simple broadcast distinguished him from many others and made his broadcasts renowned. One such broadcast was the joint coverage by Radio Demerara and the Guyana Broadcasting Service of the funeral of Guyana’s Governor General, Sir David Rose. Rafiq was the final commentator in a relay of broadcasters, including Vic Insanally and me, who described the funeral procession through the streets of Georgetown to the Place of the Seven Ponds in the Botanical Gardens.

    I cite now the words that Rafiq spoke as Sir David was laid to rest. They are taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and are Horatio’s farewell to his dying friend Hamlet. They are wholly applicable to Rafiq Khan.

    Now cracks a noble heart.
    Goodnight, sweet prince;
    And flights of angels sing thee to
    thy rest.

    Yours faithfully,
    Ronald Sanders

  • guyaneseonline  On 10/13/2014 at 12:21 am

    From: …… (Vibert Lampkin)

    To:; …. Rafiq Turhan Khan Jr (son of the late Rafiq Ahmad Khan)

    My wife Lorna and I were shocked and dismayed when we came home last evening to receive a message on our machine that Rafiq had died on Friday morning. The day before I was cleaning out my ‘in mail’ box and came across Rafiq’s email two years ago advising of the death of his dear wife after 61 years of marriage. He asked me to distribute that sad news to mutual friends which I did. I emailed him immediately, an email that he probably did not receive.

    Rafiq and I were in the same Form at St. Stanislaus College from September 1947 to June 1949. I had entered Saints in September 1944 as an 11 year old. I was a less than average student and came up through the ‘B’ Forms. Rafiq was older and entered Saints a year or so later but he was brilliant and came up through the ‘A’ forms. He caught up with me in Upper Four A in 1947. At that time I was about middle of the class in Term Tests. Rafiq was one of the people who changed my approach to study. We were preparing for the Oxford & Cambridge G.C.E. (Ordinary Level) Exam in June 1949. Rafiq entered the form never having placed any other than 1st in Term Tests. I decided to challenge him. I remember well the five Term Tests before that exam. In the first three Term Tests, the order of the first four boys were: Rafiq Khan 1st; Jerome Bacchus 2nd; Marcellus Feilden Singh 3rd; and Vibert Lampkin 4th. In the fourth Term Test before the exam, the order changed – it was Rafiq Khan 1st; Jerome Bacchus 2nd; and Vibert Lampkin 3rd. In the last Term Test before the exam, the order changed again. It was Rafiq Khan 1st; Vibert Lampkin 2nd. Rafiq Khan retained his remarkable standard throughout his high school days. He was not a great mathematician and you would be better in Math and Physics but he would bury you in the other subjects – English Composition & Literature; Latin; French; Geography; Scripture. When the results of the exam were published, there was no big surprise. Twenty five boys wrote the exam. Sixteen of us got distinctions in Scripture and nine got credits. Three boys of the twenty five got two distinctions – Rafiq Khan and Vibert Lampkin got distinctions in Latin and Scripture (and Rafiq was not even a Christian), and Jerome Bacchus got distinctions in Scripture and Physics with Chemistry. Those were not the days of multiple distinctions.

    We parted company after the examination as Rafiq went on to a full time job at British Guiana Broadcasting Corporation, later Radio Demerara – indeed he had started reading the News there during his last months at high school. But my then girlfriend Lorna McArthur, now my wife, worked at the Government Information Services and she became closely associated with Rafiq because she was the Schools Broadcast Officer and had to use the premises of Radio Demerara.

    We migrated to Canada in 1967 and lost contact with Rafiq. Indeed I had not met Rafiq face to face after high school while I was still in Guyana. I made contact with Rafiq when someone sent me his Tribute to Hugh Cholmondeley who died in August 2012. That gave me his email address and we started corresponding. I had not even known that after he left Radio Demerara, he was at the United Nations co-ordinating broadcasting in the Caribbean.

    Rafiq visited Canada in September 2013 and I picked him up from his sister’s home in Brampton. It was a warm and emotional meeting – we had not met face to face since June 1949, more than 64 years. He, Lorna and I spent a most delightful day. Then he returned in September 2014. Joe and Anne Castanheiro had him in for lunch with us and a few other friends. He told us he was going to Ottawa for a few days and would call when he got back but he did not until the day before he was about to leave when he spoke to Lorna and said: “See you next year”.

    I shall miss Rafiq. He will forever remain for me the most brilliant student that I rubbed shoulders with in high school and the one who caused me to pull my socks up and condition myself to working hard.

    Requiescat in pace.

    Vibert Lampkin

  • Cliff  On 10/13/2014 at 2:43 pm

    It only shows that death is a must for us all. At this moment, we should all rethink our lives and be better personalities for the time we have left. Death waits for no man.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 10/14/2014 at 10:51 am

    I received a forwarded email by Vibert Lampkin, dated: 29 Nov., 2012, about the passing of Evelyn Khan. I forwarded the message to my distribution lists, only to receive a response from Patricia McCowan, who worked at Radio Demerara for a short spell prior to leaving for Canada. Patricia informed me that she was still in touch with Rafiq’s secretary at the radio station. I later received an email from Rafiq Khan, dated: 03 Dec., 2012, requesting the email address of his long time secretary, Velma Hayes. He was sent the email address. R.I.P. Rafiq Khan!!

  • David Hazell  On 10/28/2014 at 8:28 am

    The good old Radio Demerara nice old days. He was very popular along with the other announcers at that time. RIP your voice will always be remembered.

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