LETTER: Andaiye was one of the few who spoke fearlessly

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Dear Editor,

I write to add my personal tribute to Andaiye, whom I was fortunate to know from my teenage years, as she was a friend of my father’s. There were few plain speakers in the Guyana of my youth. Many were lions in their private circles and mice in the public sphere.

Andaiye was one of the few who spoke truth to power, whatever the circumstances, consistently and fearlessly. It was a trait that continued throughout her life.

In her conversations and writing, there was a singular clarity of thought and clarity of expression. This was a feat both of intellect and compassion. She read, she listened, she absorbed and then she formulated an opinion.

What made her almost unique in Guyana was that her deeds matched her words. She lived her beliefs in a manner that many may aspire to but few achieve. These qualities combined to give her words unusual weight in our society.

Perhaps rather than seeking to bestow posthumous honours and accolades (for which she had little appetite and for which there was ample time while she lived), we might best honour her memory by striving to adopt a little of her praxis; to empower the weak, to give agency and a livelihood to the poor, to listen carefully to the voices in society that we continually silence and to speak out clearly and firmly against what we perceive to be unjust or ill-conceived.

Yours faithfully,

Isabelle de Caires