Letter: Tribute to my father David Horace Sookram – by Prof. David Dabydeen

Letter: Tribute to my father David Horace Sookram – 1930-2016 (86)

letters to the editor logoby Prof. David Dabydeen

Dear Editor,

David H. Sookram      

David H. Sookram

I wish to pay tribute to my father, David Horace Sookram, who died on June 9, 2016, aged 86, in North York, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

He was a lawyer and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Economics. Like many Guyanese, he came from a lowly and deprived background , but his thirst for education saw him qualify as a village schoolteacher in Berbice, where he had a reputation as an inspiring teacher, but a very strict one, wielding his cane freely, as tutors did in the bad old days.   

After divorcing my mother in the early 1960s, he went to London to pursue his studies. He started a new family. He worked as a teacher and studied in the evenings for his law degree at London University.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there was much violence against immigrants. ‘ Nigger hunting’ and ‘Paki bashing’ were the pastime of the hooligan class. He would have had to endure various humiliating situations. On the occasions when he didn’t get any legal employment, he took humble jobs as a hotel worker, factory worker, or sought assistance from the English welfare system. When he had money, he was lavish in entertaining folk, being an excellent cook , a  lover of  good rum and an avid card player.

He would play for hours with his Chinese friends when they finished their restaurant duties and settled down for  relaxing midnight- to-early- morning sessions of card-play( often for money). The years I spent with him in London saw many people from Guyana coming to stay in our house, sometimes for months on end. He was a generous and patient host.

After many years practicing in England, he emigrated to Canada, where he gained a degree of fame for being one of the lawyers for Ben Johnson (the Olympic athlete who was stripped of his gold medal for failing a doping test).

His progress from being a barefooted boy in Guyana, studying by lamplight, to being an eminent professional, is one that finds echo in the lives of many Guyanese. Such progress testifies to the Guyanese spirit of resilience, persistence, and ambition to achieve, in spite of the odds.

Before he was bowled out my father had a long innings, ducking bouncers, trying to read the spin, and always aiming to reach the boundary, and beyond. He was a person with flaws and weaknesses, to be sure, but a remarkable man. I send my condolences to all who knew him and loved him.

David Dabydeen


About David Dabydeen

Prof. David Dabydeen

Prof. David Dabydeen

David Dabydeen is a Guyanese-born critic, writer, novelist and academic. He was Guyana’s Ambassador to China from 2010 -2015.

Born: December 9, 1955 (age 61), Berbice, Guyana

Education: University College London, University of Cambridge

Nominations: International DUBLIN Literary Award

As a writer, editor, professor, and critic, David Dabydeen is remarkably committed to critically exploring the literary contributions of the Caribbean diaspora and the often conflicting polyglot identities that emerge from diasporic movements to and from homelands and homeless lands marked by racism, exploitation, and violence. Language—both the creolization of tongues and the overseer-institution of standard English—as an instrument of colonial bondage or the painful outcome of a brutal colonial past is also a central concern in Dabydeen’s poetry and prose.

Read more: David Dabydeen Biography – London, English, Caribbean, and Narrator – JRank Articleshttp://biography.jrank.org/pages/4245/Dabydeen-David.html#ixzz4D2EaX7DN


Professor David Dabydeen is the first cousin to Leonard and Cyril Dabydeen authors of various books and articles, some of which have been featured in Guyanese Online.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • tulsiedas402sqn@Gmail. com  On 07/07/2016 at 8:32 am

    Very Elequently done Professor David Dabydeen our condolences to the family.
    The Journey has come to an end he did it his way. R I P.

  • Reggie Chee a tow  On 07/07/2016 at 3:22 pm

    Your dad also taught at Uitvlugt Primary School before he went to England.He was my standard 6 teacher,and in the evening some of us who were his neighbors would take extra lessons from him.He was a fine gentleman and I have very fond memories of him.

  • Deonarine Singh  On 07/13/2016 at 3:16 am

    Sorry to hear that my friend David Sookram has passed away.We first met when he taught at the Church of Scotland School at Uitvlugt and I taught at Saraswat School De Kindren.We later met in London where we studied at the same College for the LLB.He was an inspirational teacher.Condolences to his family
    Deonarine Singh

  • Sabrina Menorca Sookram  On 04/20/2018 at 3:49 pm

    I saw this article and I hope you don’t mind if your half sister will read this. Your dad was a good father to my daughter. It’s sad that he passed away so soon. We wished that we had more time with him.

    Best Regards

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: