Sympathy on the Death of Mrs. Margret Ackman, C.C.H.2551 21 Nov, 2013
SYMPATHY ON THE DEATH OF MRS. MARGRET ACKMAN, C.C.H.
Ms. Ally: Thank you. Mr. Speaker and Hon. Members of this House, I rise to move this motion paying tribute to the late Mrs. Margret Ackman-John CCH. The People’s National Congress Reform and indeed the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), bids farewell, pays tribute and salutes one of its exemplary founding members and former Assistant General Secretary, Margret Ackman-John, CCH. – former Member of Parliament, Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister.
We are saddened by the passing of one of Guyana’s finest daughters, but are comforted by the fact that her life’s work and example, bore testimony to what Guyana’s sons and daughters can achieve.
Born in colonial Guyana of humble parentage at a time when “Britannia ruled the waves”, she was not constrained by the ritualistic brainwashing of the colonial master, but rose above it all to become a leading advocate and activist for political change and independence.
Additionally, she along with a few others blazed a trail never before traversed by persons of her gender and set a shining example for the women who followed after her, in the political struggle in Guyana. Any objective view of her life’s work would not escape the conclusion that she made a reality of or emulated W. Holly Brandt’s composition, “The song of Guyana’s Children” one of the verses of which reads:
“So like the mountain, the sea and the river
Great wide and deep in our lives would we be.
We would possess all the virtues and graces
We all the glory of goodness would learn.
We would build up by our faith, love and labour,
God’s golden city which never grows old.”
It is also safe to conclude that she made the chorus of that song her personal answer:
“Onward, upward, may we ever go
Day by day in strength and beauty grow,
Till at length we each of us may show,
What Guyana’s sons and daughters can be.”
Her commitment to country; her outstanding contribution to the land of her birth and indeed to the struggle for women’s rights in Guyana have long been recognised and is evidence by the many awards she received in her lifetime. Indeed, she had the opportunity to see her dreams and aspirations realised as well as her contributions acknowledged, both by the political party she struggled with, with others to build and the people of Guyana.
In 1957, when the People’s National Congress was founded, Margret Ackman John was among the group of militant women such as Jane Philips Gay, Winifred Gaskin, who pledged to work relentlessly with our founder leader, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham to make the People’s National Congress (PNC) an enduring institution. But that was not her debut in international politics. She was actively involved from the early 50’s with Jesse Burnham, Janet Jagan, Jane Phillips Gay and others in the Women’s Progressive Organisation, but decided to leave with the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Burnhamite faction after the split of that party.
She never wavered after her bold step with Forbes Burnham and made her contribution during the various phases, challenges and development processes of our party. She served as our party’s Assistant General Secretary for over a decade. More particularly, in 1957, she was one of the trail blazers who institutionalised the PNC, women’s auxiliary, and served as the organisation’s General Secretary and later second Vice-Chairman of the WRSM – the PNC’s Women’s Arms.
Margret, as she was familiarly called by her peers, was a leader in every sense. As she campaigned fearlessly throughout Guyana, during the difficult days of struggle, when the party was out of office in the late 1950s and early 1960s, she stood tall and strong at the forward line of the battle field in those dark days, until victory was won in 1964.
Under the banner of the People’s National Congress and its Women’s Arm, she mobilised women to campaign for the PNC and worked tirelessly to free the Guyanese people from the bonds of colonial domination and oppression.
At public meetings and rallies, Margret was one of the more influential voices, who could win hearts and minds to support the noble cause of the PNC. Within the PNC’s WA, she organised members of the Women’s Arm to raise funds for the party, catered for party Congresses and other events and to implement the welfare programme of the Party at senior citizens homes and hospitals, as well as, and undertake welfare tasks among the elderly.
In the wider society she supported efforts to ensure the advancement of women in politics, women in leadership positions at Governmental level, and in the educational and economic spheres. Many of the equal rights benefits which Guyanese women take for granted today were obtained through the agitation of Margret and other women leaders of our party.
Margret Ackman-John, also represented the party in Parliament as one of the first PNC Women Parliamentarians from 1969-1980 as Chief Parliamentary Whip, from 1969-1973 and as Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister from 1973-1980.
She was a role model for women Parliamentarians who were impressed by her dignity, her articulate speech and her appropriate sense of style. She was awarded the Cacique’s Crown of Honour (CCH) in 1976 for her excellent service in the field of politics and national development.
The fact that PNC has endured and is still militant today, 56 years after it was formed, is testimony to the strong foundation laid by Margret Ackman and other Party stalwarts who are no longer with us. Even in her phase of retirement and failing health, she remained committed to the cause, to the extent of attending party events in the United States of America. Most memorable, was her return to Guyana to attend our special congress in 2003 for the election of our new leader, after the death of the then party leader Hugh Desmond Hoyte.
The party and all its arms; youths and women, wish to place on record, its deep appreciation for her services, as a founding member, activist and someone who cared deeply about the improvement of the lives of the Guyanese people. We extend sincere condolences to her immediate family, relatives and friends, particularly, her daughter Marva and son Keith, who is also a Member of this Assembly. Be comforted by the words of John Donne, found in his Holy sonnet, Devine Mediation No. 6:
“DEATH, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so:
For those whom think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.”
Margret will not really die; she will continue to live in the memories of all whose lives she touched. In the memories of the members of the People’s National Congress and in the hearts of all with whom she shared her love, as well as the patriots of her country Guyana.
Let us pledge to honour her memory by her relentless efforts to build and strengthen not only our party, but the Parliament of Guyana, our country as a whole and to continue the struggle for democracy and good governance. After such a long and dedicated service, we are confident that her soul will find eternal rest. Farewell beloved comrade, friend and patriot a luta continua. May her soul rest in peace.
I thank you. [Applause]
Ms. Ally (replying): I just would like to thank the other two speakers for contributing to this motion and I ask that the Assembly approves this motion.
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