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JIMMY SINGH TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN by Dr. Godfrey Vincent

posted 29 Aug 2019, 05:10 by Gerry Kangalee
I got to knew Jimmy Singh in the middle 70s during the reorganizing of the ULF fraction under Raffique Shah. Like Jimmy, I was
involved in Community Organizing, and he was par excellent in organizing and mobilizing people in Success Village, Laventille. During his time on the earth, Jimmy understood what it meant to be a servant-leader, and he performed this role with dignity and commitment. Jimmy turned the world upside down in several ways.

First, he truly committed class suicide. In the movement many of the so-called leaders used to say that they committed class suicide and became part of the working-class. They lied and continue to lie. Jimmy Singh had a well-paid job as a Custom-officer and like some of his cohorts, he could have turned a blind eye and engage in corruption, live fat off the hog, build a 14-bedroom mansion, and drive Range Rover.

Rather, he didn’t engage in those activities. Instead, he left his comfortable job, became a small merchant and served the people in Erica Street and the rest of Success Village. He dedicated his entire life to working-class struggle for real transformation.

Second, long before it was fashionable to organize seven-a-side football in Trinidad and Tobago, Jimmy was in the vanguard of that movement. I remember, before I knew him, I played for a team in Erica Street. My friend Stephen McLeod who lived in Erica Street but subsequently moved to Queen Street, Port of Spain recruited me to play on his team. Jimmy understood the power of football, as a tool, in community engagement and empowerment.

Third, Jimmy was s force in the Trinidad and Tobago society where organizing the unemployed was concerned. He became the Butler of his era in understanding how to unite Africans and Indians as a class. This ability to unite the masses to engage in working class struggle meant that Jimmy Singh understood “What was to be Done” in our society to bring about much needed change that dramatically impacted the socio-economic lives of poor people.

I vividly remember that historic day when he mobilized thousands of DEWD workers and the unemployed and they staged a massive protest and demonstration that shook the PNM government to the core. I penned a poem called “Ah wasn’t dey but Ah hear.” I have it some where in my storage. When I find it, I will publish it and dedicate it to the memory of Jimmy.

Fourth, the Jimmy I knew helped many people in Erica Street and surrounding neighborhoods. When people needed food, he supplied. When people where short of funds, he chipped in. When children needed books and school supplies Jimmy assisted. When people needed advice, he offered. When people needed an advocate, he became their voice. When the police terrorized the community, Jimmy placed his life on the line to defend the community. When people needed transport, his vehicle became available. When DWED workers were threatened with retrenchment, Jimmy organized and mobilized them to defend their interest. Indeed, Jimmy was a “Man of the People.”

I do hope, we will continue to celebrate the life of Jimmy Singh. I urge all his comrades to continue his legacy. I also urge studies at UWI, and UTT etc., to engage in an oral history project on Jimmy Singh. We have lost a great community organizer and activist. Let us document his contribution to the struggle. He was one of our working-class heroes.
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