Death has struck another painful blow to one of the stalwart of the People’s Progressive Party and an unsung hero of our country, Cde Feroze Mohamed. His passing, coming so soon after the demise of Cdes. Komal Chand and Cyril Belgrave, is very grievous.
On a personal level Feroze was one of the most decent and modest persons that I have known. He was modest to the extreme, some would say to a fault. He was one of those persons that had political opponents but no personal enemies. He probably had the respect of more PNC persons than any of us.
At the same time he was a hard working activist of the PPP, he gave of his all from his youthful days growing up in Canjie. From his days in High school he was captured by the charisma and iron logic of Cheddi Jagan’s argument. Like Cheddi Jagan he dedicated himself to the liberation of Guyana, from colonialism and neo-colonialism. Like Cheddi Jagan, he was an internationalist with a world view that speaks to the liberation of mankind from tyranny and exploitation.
He was more than just an activist. He was a deep thinker and a foremost theoretician of the PPP who was universally respected. Cheddi Jagan valued his opinion greatly. He trained more than a generation of PPP members in political philosophy and in strategy and tactics.
Feroze was an organizer per excellence. He played a central role in many of our elections campaign. As a youth in Berbice he participated in the 1961 and 1964 campaigns. In 1968 he was the deputy to Balchand Persaud and two weeks before the 1968 and 1973 elections he was sent to take charge of the campaign in Berbice.
From then until the elections of 2006 Feroze was in charge of our elections work. He had a great eye for details and was known to have had several plans at every turn of events.
He went to Parliament after the 1973 elections, there too he excelled. He spoke mainly on Education. He championed the cause of students and teachers, he was deeply interested in the promotion of education with a working class bias. It was always a treat to listen to his speeches both inside and outside of Parliament. Indeed, he was a great orator. His speeches were not only well put together, but more importantly, always had deep content. He never just gaff at public fora.
One speech that has remained prominent in my mind was the one he delivered during the debate on the 1980 Constitution. I recall when he started speaking, as usual the National Assembly was somewhat noisy, but very early in his speech a hush descended on the chamber. Feroze’s logic was so compelling that he quieted every one and had the National Assembly enthralled as he spoke.
I looked, from the public gallery at Cheddi Jagan’s facial expression. I could see the great pride in his face and at a point when Feroze paused; that famous smile broke across his face and he leaned over in his seat and said to Prime Minister Burnham, “you want to borrow him!”
I also worked closely with him in the Progressive Youth Organisation. He was the First Secretary, under whose leadership the PYO was resuscitated after its splits in 1965. He built the PYO as a powerful youth organisation that played a vital role in the fight for free and fair elections and democracy in our country.
I recall his contribution at meetings of the Central and Executive Committees of the PYO. He was always profound in his analysis. The youth, under his leadership had a deep understanding of what they were fighting for! He paid close attention to both theory and practice as he strove to create a conscious cadre. He was also a hard task master. At important events, and as chief Parliamentary whip, he demanded discipline and insisted on comrades fulfilling their tasks.
After the great victory of the Guyanese people in 1992 when the struggle locally and international solidarity brought about the first free and fair elections in independent Guyana, Feroze was asked by Cheddi Jagan to take up the post of Minister of Home Affairs.
It was a delicate time and his skills in dealing with people were needed to work towards professionalizing the Police Force. He did an outstanding job in gradually moving that organization to play its constitutional role in the society.
However, that job also took a toll on his health, but he fulfilled his mandate.
Since 2012, he withdrew from public life. During his active working life, he gave of his all. Even though he voluntarily withdrew, he kept an active interest in national and international events. He was always there to advise comrades and gave his opinion whenever it was sought. Whenever he came across interesting articles he would send them to comrades whom he believed had some interest in the subject.
In 1997, when Cde Cheddi passed away, Feroze was asked to deliver the eulogy. He was asked because of his closeness to Cde Cheddi, he more than most knew Cheddi’s thinking, he knew of his concerns and he had a keen appreciation of his work. That eulogy, delivered at the official funeral at the Public Building was another great speech a great tribute and in my view could be considered as one of the best given to a head of state in the world. It’s one that is worthwhile reading more than once.
Feroze has left us at another important juncture of our country’s history. The democratic gains that this country has made are in danger of being lost once more. The PNC is in the process of trying to steal the votes of the people of Guyana.
It is clear that the bureaucratic capitalist elite that run the PNC are fighting to hold on to power for their own selfish, corrupt ends. To do so they are prepared to destroy democratic governance. The consequences of that we know, we have lived through that from 1968 to 1992.
To preserve the efforts of so many who fought for freedom from colonialism and who struggled against the PNC dictatorship both inside and outside of the PPP and PPP/C, we must stand firm and strong and frustrate these efforts.
Feroze Mohamed was a prominent and most significant fighter in those noble causes at the most difficult and dangerous times. We must honour him by defending the gains of the working people of Guyana; we must ensure that we build a democratic and free society as our contribution to people throughout the world who are also striving for peace, freedom and justice.
Rest in Peace Comrade, thanks for a job well done.
Always tell someone how you feel because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye but regret can last a lifetime.