We mourn the passing of Dr. Yesu Persaud, renowned Guyanese icon
Dr. Yesu Persaud was a man of courage, achievement, philanthropy and humility. An admired icon of Guyana, the Caribbean and worldwide, who transformed the landscape of Guyana in economics, politics and culture in truly historic ways which are imprinted in the history of Guyana. His entrepreneurship and achievements are exemplary; his humanitarianism without fanfare and his extra-ordinary humility are commendable; his generosity of heart and support of the needy are unmatched. His commitment, dedication and outstanding service in the preservation and promotion of Indian history and culture will always be remembered.
Persaid’s multi-faceted efforts in many segments of society were always with the interest of Guyana in mind. A consummate, energetic visionary, a great son of Guyana is gone. He was a man of peace yet one with strong convictions of respect for culture and discipline. It is fitting that the company he founded produced “El Dorado” which means “City of Gold” because he had a heart of gold. He was my dear friend and mentor, I am blessed to have known him, and I will miss him dearly.
In recognition of his long and continuing effort to preserve Indian culture, he has been accorded an enormous array of recognition and awards, most notably the Government of India Pravasi Samman Award – only 97 persons have been so recognized at that time. In addition, he was accorded Honorary Doctorates from University of Warwick (UK), University of West Indies (Trinidad) and the University of Guyana, for his many outstanding years as a highly successful entrepreneur, civic leader and philanthropist.
Dr. Persaud was in charge of the 150th Arrival Day celebrations in Guyana in 1988. He founded the Indian Commemoration Trust (ICT) which worked to obtain land for the Indian Arrival Monument at Monument Park in Georgetown. The commemoration of Indian Arrival with the symbolic ship and Indian Arrival Memorial in Highbury and Georgetown will be lasting tributes to Indian ancestors to Guyana who braved obstacles and pain to make their lives better and more secure. He was also integral to the success of the 175th Arrival Day celebrations in Guyana in 2015.
He worked hard to locate the documents, list the many ships and document what he could to preserve the history of our arrival. He is an ardent supporter of documentaries, books, symposia and series lectures which promote Indian heritage and culture. Examples: Film Once More Removed by Shundell Prasad; the late Pradeep Samtani’s movie filmed in Guyana; as well as writers, poets, historians. His autobiography “Reaching for the Stars” reveals the initial struggles and obstacles which he overcame through hard work and determination. Dr. Persaud often said, “Boy, we all come in ships and we are in the same boat”. He worked hard for harmonious co-existence in peace and understanding.
Ashook Ramsaran, Indian Diaspora Council International (IDC)
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