Essequibo man
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Isahak Bashir
Isahak Bashir

ISAHAK Bashir, CCH, is a retired political activist and a father of six children. He was born in Jacklow, a small but well known village in the Lower Pomeroon River, but later settled on the Essequibo Coast as an adult seeking elevation in life.
Now 83, Bashir nowadays spends life quietly at his Hampton Court home, where he meets visitors daily and is being taken care of by his children.
In his earlier days, he said he received his primary education at the Jacklow Anglican Primary School and, after sitting the School Leaving Examination at age 14, he came out to the coast to attend a private secondary school.
He related that just before he sat the Junior Cambridge Examinations, the school that he attended closed down and he subsequently did a General Certificate in Education programme offered by Bennett College in the UK.
During that programme, he learned the Geography of the British Empire, as well as English, Mathematics and Drama.Upon completion, he returned to his home village where he engaged in farming, cultivating coconut and ground provision.
Bashir also said he managed a complex there that produced coffee and rice. After working for a few years, he took a break and did a course in Mechanical Dentistry and worked for three years with a certified dental surgeon.
Having born in a riverine community, Bashir from an early age learned to swim and to operate a speedboat and would on occasions ferry passengers on the Pomeroon River and to Moruca and Barima-Waini.
On these journeys, he came into contact with many people and made many new friends, and in 1957, he accepted a job offer at the Albion Distilleries Limited (ADL) at Uitvlugt, where he worked as an assistant distiller for three years.
At Uitvlugt, Bashir recalled he met Harry Persaud Nokta and subsequently CV Nunes, both of whom went on to serve as ministers under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Administration.
Through encouragement from these gentlemen, he was gradually drafted into the fold of the PPP and became an active member of their political activities, an occupation that saw him travelled extensively both locally and abroad.
In 1976, Bashir accepted an invitation from then PPP leader, Dr Cheddi Jagan to serve as a parliamentarian at a time when the PPP was engaged in extra-parliamentary struggles.
Bashir related that during that time there were many dramatic incidents in Parliament, some of which he orchestrated without any serious reprimand.
But he was eventually expelled in 1991, after he hurled a drinking glass at then Speaker of the House, Sase Narain, who was trying to prevent Dr Jagan from speaking on a motion to prolong the life of Parliament.
Dr Jagan at the time was gaged for unbecoming parliamentary conduct.
Now in his twilight years, reflecting on the incident, a smiling Bashir said the Speaker was a courteous guy and he (Bashir) always practiced a different kind of politics from what he saw around him.
According to him, while he held passionate views on national issues, his politics was never one of hate as he has always, even to this day, believed in social cohesion and nationalism.
He related that during the time Dr Jagan was in opposition, he (Dr Jagan) was an advocate of power sharing, a national front government and compromise or alliance, but these never came into being under the PPP.
Bashir said when Dr Jagan died in 1997 before serving out his first term in office, these proposals died with him.
In 2001, he said knowing that the PPP would have won the election, in a letter to the press, he urged the party to take Dr Jagan’s proposals on board but was accused of wanting to break up the party and was shunned ever since.
Failing to heed sound advice, he said, in the long run caused the PPP to lose the government, pointing out that Mr David Granger, some 14 years after and under a six-party coalition under a similar platform, contested the national elections and won.

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