President Ali hails Philomena Sahoye-Shury as fearless freedom fighter
The passing of veteran politician Philomena Sahoye-Shury brought unsurmountable condolences and tales of a fearless woman, known to many as “Fireball” as she greatly influenced the political arena during her years.
Expressing his sorrow over her death, which was announced on Sunday, was President Dr Irfaan Ali, who remembered Sahoye-Shury’s efforts in Guyana’s battle for Independence.
The President penned, “Her death has robbed me, the People’s Progress Party, and Guyana of an exceptional human being who touched every life with which she came into contact. I have enjoyed a long relationship with Cde Phil, as she was affectionately called. I considered her as family, friend, colleague and comrade. She, along with my late grandmother, was in the vanguard of Guyana’s struggle for Independence. She was also involved in the struggle for the restoration of democracy and helped build a free and democratic Guyana.”
The Head of State continued that the country owes an eternal debt of gratitude to her as an outstanding daughter of our soil, who was a “fearless and formidable fighter” in the struggle for freedom.
“We were close associates within the People’s Progressive Party. I respect her and learnt from her. Cde Phil was always willing to share her vast experience and wisdom with younger members of the party. She never shirked from leading by example when it came to political legwork. I also worked with her on the Depressed Needs Committee, of which she was a Co-Chair. Later, she would work within the Ministry of Housing when I was the subject Minister. I always rely on her. I respected her candidness. Her work has helped to transform communities across Guyana.”
He added, “Guyana has lost an amazing human being. Our country is poorer for her passing. Her death diminishes us all. The poor and powerless have lost a true champion. But she will live on in our hearts as someone whose service was selfless beyond reproach. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mrs Philomena Sahoye-Shury – one of Guyana’s foremost warriors of freedom.”
Sahoye-Shury died at the age of 90. Along with former President Cheddi Jagan, she also served as a Member of Parliament for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic between the period 1968 and 1971.
In addition, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is also the Secretary General of the PPP/C, also penned, “A longstanding and dedicated member of the party, Cde Phil also contributed immensely during the struggle against PNC dictatorship. She touched many lives in a positive way and has left a rich legacy of service to the people of Guyana.”
In a statement, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) regarded the veteran leader as “a long-standing ally of the Guyanese working-class, a dedicated comrade of GAWU, and a voice of the people in our country”.
During her earlier years, she would have served as the General Secretary of the Union, which the entity said played an instrumental role in the consolidation and success of the GAWU.
“During her time in GAWU, the Union was engaged in the nearly 30-year struggle for recognition on behalf of the field and factory workers of the sugar industry. It was a period when no attempt was spared to extinguish the militancy of the workers and the GAWU. Despite the great challenges, the ‘Fireball’ was not daunted. Her commitment was unyielding as she and other leaders of GAWU, demonstrated tremendous grit and determination that eventually saw GAWU gaining Union recognition in the sugar industry.”
Even after she left the Union, she never lost touch. She inspired the new leadership of GAWU to go on to secure new successes and further gains. She remained grounded with the ordinary people despite the new heights she attained nationally. It is a testimony to her character and the ideals she abided by during her lifetime.
GAWU added, “Indeed, the ‘Fireball’ leaves an unenviable legacy of service to the Guyanese people, especially the working class. She made an indelible mark of humility and dedication to mankind. The GAWU owes a tremendous debt to her, and her contributions will continue to live on in the many organisations within which she functioned.”