A WREATH-LAYING ceremony was on Sunday held at the Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, Lot 12 Princess Street and Louisa Row, Le Repentir, Georgetown, in commemoration of the 58th death anniversary of Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) activist, Michael Forde.
Among those present at the ceremony were Seepaul Narine, President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU); Neil Kumar, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) executive member and manager at Freedom House; representatives of the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO), PYO and the Michael Forde Bookshop, and members of the Mc Alistair family.
Forde, a then 22-year-old was one of the leaders of the historic Freedom Marches in February 1964.
Forde was killed by an explosive package that was brought to Freedom House by a book purchaser. His death was the second in the Forde family that week; his father had died the previous Sunday. It was reported to the police that a young man went into the bookshop housed in the Freedom House building with a small carton. He placed the box on a bookshelf, purchased a book, and, without waiting for his change, hurriedly left the shop, leaving his box behind.
Seconds after the man left, Forde, who was an employee, called out to the manager, Miss Euna Mulzack, an American citizen residing in the country, and informed her that the young man left hurriedly without collecting his change and also left a box behind.
Becoming suspicious, she told him to throw the box out of the building. Forde responded, and was rushing through the eastern side door of the shop when there was an explosion. The lower part of Forde’s left hand was hurled some 50 yards away, landing behind the pit entrance of the Metropole Cinema. His mutilated body was found face upward, lying across the entrance of Freedom House, with just strips of clothing dangling around his waist.
At the time of the explosion, there were around 40 persons in Freedom House, some of whom were injured. Among the wounded were Mary Nunes, wife of the then Minister of Education, Cedric Nunes; Patricia Christian; Euna Mulzack, who suffered a damaged eye; and Miss Bispat, who had a suspected fractured spine.
The First Lady at the time, Janet Jagan, wife of the then Premier of Guyana, Dr Cheddi Jagan, escaped with slight injuries to her hands.
Kumar said that Forde will be remembered for his heroic action as he was only 22 when he was killed and it was right after he had participated in a countrywide march sponsored by the PPP/C in the struggle for free and fair elections.