TRIBUTE TO MR. HUGH DESMOND HOYTE, S.C., M.P. BY MR. ROBERT H. O. CORBIN, M.P. CHAIRMAN AND LEADER (ag) PEOPLES NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM
“We therefore must approach its agenda in a mood of creativity and innovation and a spirit of inquiry that allows us to question our methods, strategies, policies and programmes, with the full understanding that, in our Party, there are no sacred cows or immutable traditions …… And if revolutionary thinking produces ideas and projects hitherto unfamiliar to us, let us nonetheless examine them keenly and, if necessary, embrace them bravely in a spirit of change.
Change is as necessary a part of politics as it is of life. Those who do not change become dinosaurs, irrelevant and eventually extinct. If we do not adapt to new circumstances, new challenges and new responsibilities we cannot survive, much less overcome.”
H.D. Hoyte, Congress Speech 2002
Mrs Joyce Hoyte,
His Excellency President Jagdeo & Mrs. Jagdeo,
Chancellor, Chief Justice & Members of the Judiciary
His Excellency, The Governor General of Barbados & Other Visiting Dignitories
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
The Speaker, National Assembly,
Ministers of Government,
Family & Friends of the Late Mr. HD Hoyte,
Ladies & Gentlemen
Comrades & Friends,
Today the task has been thrust upon me to pay a special tribute to a friend, a Comrade, a patriot, a distinguished Guyanese son, the former President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Our Party Leader, Mr. H D Hoyte.
So much has been said and written of him in the past seven days that one is forced to ask the question, “What manner of man was he?”
For me, the quotation recited by me earlier from his Party Congress Address in August 2002 reflects most accurately the philosophy which guided H D Hoyte as he led his Party, the Peoples National Congress Reform, and as President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
He approached his tasks with creativity and innovation and a spirit of inquiry that allowed him to question methods, strategies, policies and programmes. His revolutionary thinking produced new ideas and projects hitherto unfamiliar to us. He recognised that change was as necessary a part of politics as it is of life and he was unafraid to make changes where he considered them necessary, even at the expense of personal popularity. He was determined to ensure that his Party did not become a dinosaur….. irrelevant and eventually extinct. Consequently, he ensured that we adapted to new circumstances, new challenges and new responsibilities and in doing so he carried the torch lit by his predecessor, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham and advanced the struggle for human dignity, freedom and genuine independence.
How else could one explain his resolute change of the economic philosophy of our country characterised by the Economic Recovery Programme or the change in the ideological direction of the Party.
“For everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven;”
In his last Congress Address, he categorically stated,
“An adjusted system of governance for our country – whether we call it “power-sharing”, “shared governance”, “inclusive governance” or any other name – appears to be an idea whose time has come.”
What he did not know then was that his time had also come to hand over the torch that he had so brilliantly carried since 1985. For Hugh Desmond Hoyte, the time to die has come. A mighty leader, statesman, visionary, friend, father and husband has fulfilled his time on earth. This is a time to weep, a time to embrace, a time to love and a time of peace. The Guyanese nation, both in Guyana and in all the far flung corners of the globe where sons and daughters of this Republic are to be found, mourn the passing of this great son of the soil. Even though Guyana is a relatively small country with a tiny population by world standards, it is, nevertheless, blessed by its generous supply of great minds in many fields and areas of endeavour. In the area of political leadership; this is no less the case. Many nations have raised up sons and daughters who were renowned in the struggle for independence and nationhood. Very few could boast, as we can do in Guyana, that we were led by outstanding statesman in our early struggles, Linden Forbes Samson Burnham and Cheddi Bharrat Jagan.
Unfortunately, many nations are unable to sustain the drive and the energy which won freedom for lack of the visionary leadership which could build on the work of the founding fathers and fine tune the national institutions and vision for the next stages of development and nation building. For Guyana, came the hour, came the man. And thus Hugh Desmond Hoyte was thrown into the fire of leadership at a crucial time, indeed a dangerous time in our history. He made an indelible mark for which we all owe him an immense debt of gratitude. Indeed, there can be no doubt that this era belonged to Hugh Desmond Hoyte.
Historians and analysts will with the tools of their craft discuss in years to come what might have been our fate as a nation had he been allowed by circumstances to complete his task. That, however, is not our task today. We are met to give him honour and to express our collective gratitude to him for his contribution and to God for giving Guyana this great son.
“ But search the land of living men
Where will thou find their like again?
But in close fight a champion grim’
In camps a leader sage’
Those of us who knew Hugh Desmond Hoyte well were very aware of the fact that this gifted lawyer was in many respects a reluctant recruit to public life. He may well by personal preference have remained in the practice of the law and live a comfortable and rewarding life but. having accepted the call to political life, he gave all his energy and intellectual powers to the causes and beliefs which he embraced and made himself a fine and noble servant of the interests of this country, its people, and the party which he embraced.
He was a formidable man, tireless in his work habits, intolerant of incompetence and corruption, meticulous in his attention to detail and consumed with the rightness of his causes and the needs for justice and honour in the life of our country. It is remarkable that he has lived and worked in the full view of the national and international scrutiny without attracting to his name even the barest whiff of credible stain on his character.
Hoyte was a visionary, and always conducted public policy and political strategy on the basis of deeply held and thoroughly analysed understandings of the needs of Guyana. His work and writings demonstrate that he understood the international role which Guyana should serve, he understood the needs and strategies for economic development and he had a clear appreciation of the requirement and importance of social and cultural cohesion in our multicultural society.
He was not merely a thinker and philosopher on the development of Guyana. He was an unflagging worker in its cause. Anyone who worked with him in the public service, in his political party or on the international scene will testify to his energy, his sense of duty and his indefatigable drive to accomplish any task which he set himself or, if truth be told, which his sense of duty to his country devolved upon him. His legendary seriousness of purpose and focus on national priorities are, for many Guyanese, the mark of the man. In times of crisis and challenge, Hoyte put country first and was always willing to do the right thing for Guyana, cost it what it will.
‘His sledge and anvil lie declined
His bellows too have lost their wind
His fire extinct, his forge decayed
And in the dust his voice is laid
His coal is spent, his iron gone
His nails are drove, His work is done’
His major achievements have been so chronicled over the past seven days that it would be like taking bauxite to Linden if I attempted to repeat them here today. It is sufficient to say that he forged ahead with what he believed to be good for Guyana, even when he faced the criticism and carping of lesser men who did not share his vision.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy
[Martin Luther King]
The greatness of Hugh Desmond Hoyte lay in his capacity to diagnose the ills and weaknesses of the nation, conceptualise the remedy and administer the surgery with resoluteness and an iron will. To the end of his life, his brain was alive with ideas for reform, revision, improvement, national development and fresh vision for Guyana.
Focusing on the intellect and moral strength of this man would be to paint too narrow a picture of this multi dimensional being. He was a man of the people who was always willing to reach out to the small man, the vulnerable, the oppressed and those who felt greatest hurt. He was a personal supporter without public fanfare of a wide range of charities and causes. He was at his most vulnerable as he listened to tales of the poor and defenceless.
At the personal level, he valued friendships and worked hard to nurture them. He was a skilled raconteur, a man of letters and a devoted patron of a wide range of the finer arts and sports. He was a devoted father to whom the loss of his children was a tragedy and devastation which made his continued commitment to his patriotic duties even more remarkable. Above all else, he was a devoted husband who forever reminded those who worked with him of the support and sacrifice of his beloved wife which enabled him to give so much to his country.
‘Lives of Great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time’
He is no longer with us in the flesh but his legacy of patriotism; devotion to duty and a civilised life will remain with us for a long time.
Those of us who must attempt to fill the void he leaves behind can do no better than to hold fast to the values he held most dear: honesty and efficiency; hard work; a liberal and open society; a market driven economy; and a cohesive community. We who must now carry the torch must like him approach the present tasks with creativity and innovation. We must in his memory be prepared to embrace revolutionary ideas and be unafraid of change if this is considered necessary.
We will build on the legacy he has bequeathed to us. We therefore pledge ourselves to the task of working for a beautiful and better Guyana, one of inclusiveness, economic progress peace and harmony so that all citizens in our beloved country would say with pride and conviction, “I’m proud to be a Guyanese”
Rest well dear Comrade … You have done your task. Be assured that the torch has already been picked up …. We will carry on the struggle.
May his soul rest in peace.
Let me take this opportunity on behalf of my colleagues and comrades of the PNCR to thank all those who have given time and tribute in the celebration of the life of our leader. We appreciate and treasure the expressions of condolence to the party which he so ably led.
I also wish on behalf of his widow Mrs Joyce Hoyte and other members of his immediate family and circle of friends to thank those who have shared in this moment of sorrow. It was comforting to note the expressions from our friends and comrades in the international community, the Caricom region, the Americas, the Commonwealth and the world at large. We particularly appreciate the presence of those who have come to join us at this time of bereavement and appreciation. Your presence here is, indeed, comforting and we are grateful for your support.
It is also my duty to publicly acknowledge the support in spirit and in tangible manner from the Government of Guyana and the agencies of the state.
Such times as these bring us together as a nation and as a people. It is my fervent hope that this is the dawn of a new era.
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