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A COMPLETE REVOLUTIONARY BY CECIL PAUL

posted 23 Aug 2019, 05:38 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Aug 2019, 05:46 ]
Jimmy Singh was buried on Tuesday August 20, 2019 in his hometown of Success Village, Laventille. The persons at his funeral were 

grass roots people of his community comprised of children, young people, ex panists of the famous Hilanders Steelband, revolutionaries of the 1970’s and former and present Trade Unionists. Two very young panists from Hilanders played at Jimmy’s service. He was working with others to revive the band to again become one of the country’s greatest steelbands.


I met Jimmy in the early 1970’s while campaigning for the United Labour Front (ULF) in the East/West Corridor for the 1976 general elections. He was a member of the Northern region of the party and based on reports was a very valued member. He was a respected activist from the Laventille area. It was reported that he organized sports and cultural activities and represented his community in their struggle for amenities in their area.

We found out that Jimmy was for more than electoral politics. He was an advocate of direct community action, empowerment of the people through their organization and for mass organizations of the people to demand proper representation on a continuous basis. He never spoke about or mentioned his academic achievement. Many of us never knew until his funeral that as a Laventillian he qualified to attend a prestige school, was granted a government scholarship but refused and was a former customs officer.

We knew Jimmy Singh, as an uncompromising defender of the rights of the poor and all working people. Many of us remember his criticism of those politicians who owe their political rise to workers then once in office abandoning the rights and advancement of the working classes. That speech of Jimmy was so stinging that Oma Panday wife of the then newly elected Prime Minister tried to boo Jimmy off the Labour Day stage in Fyzabad without success. That Labour Day speech was Jimmy Singh at his fearless, straight talking best.

Jimmy was a kind and generous revolutionary. I remember in the late 1980’s he was selected to attend a seminar in Czechoslovakia organized by the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). Several months later I was leaving to attend a General Council meeting of the WFTU in the same city in Czechoslovakia. Before leaving Jimmy gave me a sum of US dollars with a letter and an address. He explained to me that he was short of funds at the end of the seminar and wanted to give a gift to the liaison officer - a student who was very professional and helpful to his group at the seminar. He wanted me to deliver this gift to the person. Very few of us would think of doing this thank you gesture. But that was Jimmy Singh thoughtful and thankful.

Jimmy was well versed in the history of the anti-colonial struggles and our working class heroes such as Elma Francois, Jim Barrette and Christina King. He found out from John La Rose of New Beacon Publishing that Jim Barrette and Christina King were still alive and living in John John, Laventille. In my presence at the Council of Progressive Trade Union office (CPTU), Jimmy invited himself to a visit John La Rose was making to see the great working class heroes.

The next day Jimmy requested that the CPTU grant Jim and Christina a monthly pension and that they be invited to all our functions as honorary guests. The CPTU agreed and Jimmy himself would further insist that the best vehicle be made available to take them around. His request was also granted until they passed away.

Jimmy insisted that Jim Barrette’s’s last rites be held at the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union, as he was one of the founders of that Union. Most of the top people in the Progressive Trade Union Movement were present but Jimmy Singh was not allowed to speak. NJAC openly protested took over the proceedings from the elitist opportunists and opened the proceedings for others to speak. All the big names spoke except Jimmy who had brought back Jim and Christina into the spotlight albeit for a few years. Such was the humility of Jimmy Singh, the Complete Revolutionary, Hero of Laventille.
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