President Dr Irfaan Ali today joined Government Officials and representatives of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) for the unveiling of the Commemorative Centenary Stamp on the 100th Birth Anniversary of Former President Janet Jagan, OE, during a ceremony held at State House.
Reflecting on the life and works of the late president, the Head of State noted that her legacy is still a driving force today.
“Janet Jagan was a torch bearer for freedom and democracy… Janet Jagan imbued her party with her fighting spirit. It was her example of resilience and resistance that her party turned to during the period from March to August of this year when there was a criminal conspiracy to steal our elections. Inspired by her tenacious spirit, her party resisted the attempts to deny the democratic will of the people.”
President Ali pointed to her lifelong dedication towards ensuring that the rights of others were respected and protected. In so doing, he highlighted her role as a pioneer of women’s rights, her struggles while championing the cause of the working class as well as her advocacy for press freedoms.
“Janet Jagan’s entire life was one devoted to the rights of others…Janet Jagan fought for a fairer and more equal society. She used the political offices held at various times to work particularly for the improvements of workers.”
The President also called on those gathered to remember the former President’s role as a “trailblazer” on the path to Guyana’s liberty, first from the stronghold of colonial rule and later from the vice-like grip of dictatorship when she joined her husband, former President Cheddi Jagan, on the political frontlines.
“We remember her at this time for her strong will, her indisputable political organisational skills and for her dedication to the ordinary man and woman…We remember her at this time because she would have been proud that democracy was protected and preserved.”
The President said that Mrs. Jagan’s fighting spirit was complimented by her warm and kind heart. He added that the former president often gave away her earnings to people, often time strangers, who needed help. The former president also had a special affinity for children and published a number of children’s books as she looked to give back in every way possible.
“Janet Jagan was warm and motherly….She remains one of the most modest and humble persons you could have ever met. “I have had the great fortune of knowing her and benefiting from her wise counsel. I consider it a humbling experience to assume the seat of the Presidency which this political giantess once filled.”
The Head of State lauded the late President’s achievements as monumental and immeasurable and called on those present to not only pay homage to her legacy of freedom and democracy, but to work tirelessly towards the unification of the people of Guyana.
“The time has come for us in this country to reflect with honourable intentions, to reflect with a passion, and a commitment to achieve what those who struggled selflessly, wanted to achieve. And that is the unification of our people. It is the most pressing issue for us as a people. We talk a lot these days about economic bonanza that will come about, the great wealth that will come, about lifting our people from poverty. But today I say to you, the greatest of tasks and challenge for all of us, is unification of our people.”
President Ali said that it is the country’s leaders who will have to take up the responsibility and lead the charge towards achieving unification.
“This does not rest on the people out there. This rests entirely on the shoulders of leaders. We cannot lead without dignity. We cannot lead in a way that is disrespectful to the laws of our country. I assure you, every single day of this government’s life will be spent dedicated to this task, it will be achieved. It must be achieved. We have to break down those invisible walls and bring our people together, we owe this to the legacy of those who worked tirelessly, and selflessly, we owe this to our future generation, and we have to fix it now and fix it in this generation, and to not leave this burden upon those who will come after us. So today, as you reflect, I ask us to reignite in ourselves that spirit which saw us victorious so many times in our country. We are at our best when we’re united.”
Also paying tribute to the former President were the Hon. Prime Minister, Mark Phillips, great nephew to Janet Jagan Mr Ian Jagan and Mr Hydar Ally, the Director of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre (CJRC).
Former President Janet Jagan was one of the founders of the PPP and served in various capacities in the party. She was sworn in as Guyana’s first woman Prime Minister and First Vice-President and was later was sworn in as the first woman President of the Republic of Guyana and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
She was also a founder of the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO), she held the post of head of this premier women’s association until her death. (Office of the President)