‘Uncle Tabrak’ eulogised

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─ former Member of Parliament, Isahak Basir known to many as ‘Uncle Tabrak’ laid to rest

─ his son described him as the ‘epitome of humanity’

─ “Basir was a ‘healing soul’. He did not discriminate in sharing his ideas” – Min. Harmon

─ “Isahak Basir was a universal man” he was loved by everyone who knew him, and he equally loved everyone in spite of their political and religious persuasion or ethnic or social strata – PM Nagamootoo

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, February 6, 2019

What began as a sombre reflection on the life of former Member of Parliament, Isahak Basir, known to many as ‘Uncle Tabrak’, turned out to be a highly charged political event with strong political statements.

84-year-old Basir, a Muslim and community icon, died last Friday. His funeral service today was attended by hundreds of Guyanese, from all ethnic, cultural, religious and political backgrounds.

While the tributes flowed, the service was soon transformed into a highly political ceremony. Former President Donald Ramotar used his time at the podium to lash out at the Coalition Government. Outbursts also came from former PPP’s General Secretary and Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, MP Need Kumar and former Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Harripersaud Nokta.

But while the opposition was blatant in their attacks, Minister of State Joseph Harmon eloquently addressed the gathering and focused on the exceptional life of Basir. According to him, although ‘Uncle Tabrak’ was a longstanding executive of the PPP, that did not prevent him from sharing his ideas with the ruling administration.

“He did not discriminate in sharing his ideas with the chairman of the APNU, neither did he discriminate with sharing his ideas with His Excellency, the President.”

Minister Harmon said Basir was constantly writing to President David Granger, presenting ideas on things that could be done to develop Essequibo and other parts of the country.

“Basir was a “healing soul” and this is the kind of individual we require in our country. We are the poorer for the passing of Isahak Basir” the State Minister said.

He reminded that Guyana is on the cusp of major development and that it will be in the best interest of all to follow the advice of the giant on community leadership and work together.

Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, in his glowing tribute, said Basir was loved by everyone who knew him, and he equally loved everyone in spite of their political and religious persuasion or ethnic or social strata.

“Irrespective of our ethnicity or race, hence the presence here of a multiracial gathering to celebrate his life. Isahak Basir was a universal man.”

The Prime Minister said while ‘Uncle Tabrak’ was a politician, he would not have chosen to politicise such an event, “out of respect for the family, for the multi-ethnic composition of those who would have been here and of our country.”

He recalled it was only last Friday that he met Basir during an outreach at the town hall meeting at Anna Regina. During that engagement, ‘Uncle Tabrak’ boasted about the transformation that has been taking place in Essequibo under this government.

“He was not thinking about death when he made the commitment on Friday that he was in the struggle, that he was there to help in the progress and development of Essequibo and Guyana.”

‘Uncle Tabrak’ was described by the Prime Minister as “one of the very few full-blooded Jaganites” who stood his ground on principles.

The Prime Minister said:

“This is not the time to claim Basir, this the time to name him as the person he has been in his life.”

Described as a “champion for the poor”, ‘Uncle Tabrak’ was no ordinary human being. In fact, the outpouring of tributes proved that he was not confined to his religion. He was a lover of hymns and taught lessons in Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

His son, Andrieko Basir said his father was the epitome of humanity. Delivering the Eulogy, the younger Basir called on all gathered to put the interest of Guyana first.

“I encourage you to continue to support the cause of development. Let us put aside party politics. In recognition of this man’s effort, if we don’t come together to build this country and make it a happy place, it will be an injustice to him.”

Isahak ‘Uncle Tabrak’ Basir was born on September 18, 1935, in Jacklow Pomeroon. He was the former Chairman of the National Congress of Local Democratic Organs, Vice President of the Guyana Rice Producers Association and Chairman of the Guyana-Libya Agricultural Company. In 1995, he was conferred with Guyana’s third highest national award the Cacique’s Crown of Honour.

He leaves to mourn his wife Sabra, partner of 60 years and recipient of the Arrow of Achievement Award, eight children, 17 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren.

Alexis Rodney.

Images: Adrian Persaud.