The New York based Guyana Democracy Project (NYGDP) pays tribute to the memory of an outstanding history scholar Prof Brinsley Samaroo who passed away last Sunday. The organization issued a press release noting that the passing of historian retired UWI Professor Dr. Brinsley Samaroo is a big loss to history and social science academia in the Caribbean particularly the studies of Caribbean Indian history and on Indo-Caribbeans in general. Dr Samaroo published much on the Indian community and taught many thousands of students. The NY GDP wrote: “The fraternity of Indian Caribbean social science and history scholars has lost one of its stalwarts. He will be sorely missed but will be remembered for his many works”.
The NY organization also notes that “Dr. Samaroo was very helpful and friendly to Guyanese students and academic visitors welcoming them at UWI and helping to make them feel comfortable having learned that their life of hardship in Guyana during the Burnham dictatorship”.
Samaroo co-organized several academic conferences including the First, Second, and Third Conferences of Indians in the Caribbean. And he put a structure in place to organize the 4th international conference of Indians in the diaspora that was hosted by a group that included Dr Mahin Gosine, Dr Tara Singh, and this writer Vishnu Bisram in New York.
Samaroo provided much needed assistance to delegates from Guyana at conferences held in 1975, 1979, and 1983. Guyanese delegates were not allowed to travel with more than $15. Samaroo himself was also fondly treated by Guyanese hosts at conferences in USA and in Guyana.
NY GDP penned: “Samaroo’s life time academic work was focused primarily on topics related to slavery, indentureship, agriculture, and politics. He published extensively in national and international journals and was the author and or editor of several books including books used in classes on history of Indians in the Caribbean.
He was also a politician and served in the lower and upper house of Trinidad and Tobago. His academic pursuits and professional responsibilities and involvement in politics merged in a rare blend. He worked with the former Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday who went on to become PM. And he also served as advisor to PM Kamla Persad Bissessar. And he was a Minister of government under ANR Robinson during the NAR administration (1986-1991)”.
The organization describes Samaraoo as “a teacher and researcher of the highest order. He published extensively in journals, books, magazines, and newspapers. The meticulous manner in which he prepared and delivered his lectures has been widely acclaimed by students from the 1970s thru his retirement in the early 2000s. He also presented exceptional papers at academic conferences in USA, Guyana, Trinidad, India and Suriname. Despite his monumental academic achievements, his humility and dedication to work were exemplary. He is fondly remembered by those who read his works and listened to his lectures for his extraordinary scholarship and teaching abilities. He supervised several students for their MA and PhD degrees. His mentoring qualities were of the highest order and under his stewardship the department grew up to become one of the most prolific research centers at UWI.
Besides academia, Prof. Samaroo was a good person and a humble human being. He will be dearly remembered by all as an affectionate and beloved teacher who gave his best to students and colleagues and as a person of highest integrity, honesty and sincerity”.
NYGDP President Dr Tara Singh says: “Dr Samaroo is an iconic Caribbean man of history, and his great works would live through his countless students”.
The NYGDP extends “deepest condolence to his bereaved family.”