Red Thread activist Andaiye Williams loses battle to cancer
Former executive member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Andaiye Williams, who was also a recipient of the Golden Arrow of Achievement (AA) died on Friday after battling cancer.
Williams, who was a strong activist for women’s rights, was 77 years old at the time of her death. The WPA in an emotional two-page statement said it was saddened by the news of her passing and will most definitely miss her leadership.
She was a founder of the Guyana Cancer Society and the Cancer Survivors Action Group and also worked with the Women and Development Unit of the University of the West Indies (WAND) from 1987 to 1992, and from 1987 to 1996 with Caricom.
In 1997, she was awarded the Golden Arrow of Achievement, the fourth highest award in the Order of Service of Guyana, for her hard work.
“Her passing is a blow to the movement for change and transformation in Guyana and beyond – until the very end she remained a committed soldier of the cause of social justice, women and children rights, working-class liberation and ethnic and racial equality,” WPA said.
Williams began her career as a schoolteacher and Foreign Service worker. According to the Party, she never really left the teaching profession as she left her prints on the WPA and Red Thread.
The activist will long be remembered as a Black Power activist who saw the movement towards Black pride and dignity as a necessary step in our independence journey. She changed her name from Sandra Williams to Andaiye and wore her hair in the Afro-style of the day—these two symbols remained part of her identity for the rest of her life, the WPA wrote.
The legend returned to her homeland in 1977 after being urged by her classmates, Walter Rodney and Rupert Roopnarine, both of whom had become associated with the newly formed WPA. She joined the party and played a pivotal role in its development as one of the most formidable radical parties in the Caribbean.
She was able to serve the party in various capacities, especially as a writer and editor of the party’s publications and as its International Secretary but was equally involved in spreading the politics of change and transformation across Guyana.
“In later years, she became disenchanted with political parties and thought that enough energy was not being put into building non-party movements. As WPA mourns her passing, we call on Guyana and the Caribbean to emulate the example of Andaiyes of our Caribbean. She died like most revolutionaries in our country and region—forgotten and marginalised by the political elites whose power came from the struggles and sacrifices of these very forgotten souls. But the WPA is comforted by the fact that Sister Andaiye died knowing that she selflessly gave her life to the service of country, region and humanity. In her name and by her example, we forge on,” the Party stated.
President David Granger also sent out condolences to Williams’ family as he lauded her for her years of dedication to Guyana.