TRINIDAD – Daaga passes
Trinidadian revolutionist dies days shy of 81st birthday
PORT OF SPAIN –– Revolutionist and Founder of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), Makandal Daaga, born Geddes Granger, died Monday at the Port of Spain General Hospital.
Daaga, as he is popularly known, suffered a seizure while at his home in Laventille Monday afternoon and was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital for treatment. However, he died a short while later, about 1:35 p.m. Daaga was the father of four children. On Saturday he would have celebrated his 81st birthday.
Political leader, Brother Wasim Mutema, Monday described Daaga as a humanitarian, “he was one who fought for the rights of the people. His heart went out to the people. He wasn’t the type to think about status or educational backgrounds.”
A close friend of the family said Daaga recently contracted a virus but was said to be fighting it and in good spirits.
“He never was flat down in bed and he was walking, talking and doing everything as normal so we are just shock and saddened as to how sudden he left us,” the family friend said.
In 2013, Daaga received the nation’s highest national award—The Order of the Republic of T&T—for work in the sphere of national service.
In 2010, Daaga was one of five political leaders that signed the Fyzabad Accord leading up to the 2010 General Election which saw the birth of the People’s Partnership.
In the party’s 14-month performance review, during an interview with the T&T Guardian, Daaga threatened to walk from the People’s Partnership government if he felt that his people were being betrayed.
He was bestowed with the position of Cultural Ambassador to Caricom by then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Persad-Bissessar, in a release Monday, extended condolences to Daaga’s family and friends.
She described Daaga’s journey as a monument to service, determination and fortitude.
“When in April 2010 he said, ‘my dreams have come true… never again would you be servants in your own country, this land is yours’, it was the fulfilment of a long-held vision for a nation that could stand together as one people, above all other differences celebrated by our diversity,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“He was one of those elders whose advice I always treasured, as one who was already a seasoned veteran by the time I entered politics many years ago,” she added.
Reminiscing, Persad-Bissessar said one of Daaga’s most timeless philosophies was “the people is the Government”, which, she added, was the talk he walked in his long march to political power, and in his time as ambassador extraordinaire.
“What it meant to me was that true power resides in the men, women and young people whose lives we influence when we hold power, and therefore a vision for the future and mode of Government must come from those very people,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“As a pioneering politician, a social activist, a political elder and a Statesman, his forthright wisdom and boundless energy will be missed, and will never be forgotten. His fight was for the people, and in his life time, he was able to win power and indeed, did all he could to govern for the people. We are deeply saddened and send our hope for his family for God’s hand in this time of tragedy,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Daaga had described himself as the “shadow minister” for Laventille, a community in which he spent his entire life.
Around Independence 1962, Daaga formed an organisation called Pegasus, which attracted some of the most prominent and influential persons of the day.
It was the first body to give national awards. It took the lead in honouring citizens long before any government national awards were introduced. It also took the lead in honouring national heroes, the first two being Arthur H. Mc Shine who was responsible for the Trinidad Cooperative Bank (the Penny Bank) and Captain Arthur Andrew Cipriani.
Five years after founding Pegasus, Daaga entered the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, and became president of the Guild of Undergraduates.
With an equal concern for national development, Daaga inspired the university toward a hitherto unseen type of student activism that ranged from teaching voluntarily in the more depressed areas to providing assistance in solving all types of communal problems.
In 1974 he was made leader of the Caribbean Steering Committee for the Sixth Pan African Conference that was held in Tanzania. This organisation had included the leadership of most, if not all progressive political organisations in the Caribbean, and included persons like Raymond Charlotte of Cayenne, Tim Hector of Antigua, Bobby Clarke of Barbados, Eusi Kwayana of Guyana, Maurice Bishop of Grenada.