President David Granger: I would like to join everyone else who has spoken paying tribute to Mrs. Carmen Jarvis. Of course I didn’t go to Bishops’, except to escort friends to Bishops’ before heading back to Queen’s College. [Laughter] Certainly my own interaction with Mrs. Jarvis came in the 1990s when my military occupation was suddenly terminated and I went into publishing trying to prove that it was possible to be a capitalist without capital, which ended in failure, but she was very helpful when I was on campus as a mature student.
We started to produce something called the History Gazette and she was very understanding and very supportive; and one of the reasons why I decided to speak, although I am not scheduled to speak, is to express our gratitude because we were able to keep that monthly publication going for roughly six years and every single month came it came out and UNESCO was instrumental in supporting that publication.
I was also involved in publishing the Guyana Historical Journal and there again Mrs. Jarvis was always willing to help; and I would say [that] without her friendly support these two important historical publications would not have seen the light of day. So I rise to say thank you very much, Mrs. Jarvis.
I was very intrigued by the reference that Vibert made about the Barbadian ancestry because the Prime Minister of Barbados, who was here a few months ago, pointed out that he could identify four Guyanese Presidents who have Barbadian ancestry. I’ll leave you to guess who they were; out of eight, which isn’t bad, but Mrs. Jarvis is what would be described in modern day parlance as an iconic Guyanese.
I think when we consider some of the reverses which we have faced, we are very grateful for that generation of persons who were born in the 1920s because they transmitted certain values and standards, some of which have been lost, but were it not for them, Guyana would have been a very different place. So I regard her not only as a person but as a part of a class, and these were the people, and I think you know many of them, who were born in the 1920s.
Today is a special day as well. This is my sixth engagement. I started at six o’clock at my own Party’s 59th Anniversary, the 5th of October, and I also had to go to Cyril Potter College of Education and again that was a bit of nostalgia because I think Cyril Potter might have tried to teach you English, Vibert? [Laughter.] Yeah, but Cyril Potter was a giant of a man. We all thought he was about ten feet tall when we were at school. He was probably about 6’5” anyway and he was the author of the words of the national anthem and, of course, that beautiful “My Guyana, El Dorado”; but you don’t have people like that nowadays.
He was born in 1899 and it was not only a matter of One Laptop per Teacher, but it was also a matter of ensuring that we sat with the teachers and wished them a happy ‘World Teacher’s Day’ and Mrs. Jarvis has made reference to the origin of ‘World Teacher’s Day’.
After that I had to go to another function at the Umana Yana because 1st of October, apart from being National Tree Day, is also ‘International Day of Older Persons’. I was told not to call them elderly since I would be part of that class myself, since UNESCO or [the] United Nations Systems defines older persons as being over sixty and I just crossed the line. [Laughter.] So it is a very busy day, a very important day for me, and maybe everything that has happened up to the present time helps to reinforce my respect for Mrs Jarvis.
So I would like to congratulate you on putting the book out. In the days when I tried to be a publisher I tried to encourage other public servants to write. Luckily, people like Rashleigh Jackson did write and there used to be in Queenstown – 143 Oronoque Street, Queenstown – an organisation called the Free Press. If perhaps I had renamed it the expensive press I would have been in business today, but calling something free press is a recipe for failure. But Mrs. Jarvis, you were further up Oronoque Street at the corner of Robb and Oronoque streets in Bourda, and I’d just like to put on record, in my small corner, my gratitude for the support that you gave for the publication efforts, particularly for the History Gazette and the Guyana Historical Journal.
We wish you continued health. We wish you comfort and happiness.
Thank you very much. We all love you.