Lloyd Aloysius Searwar A. A. 1925 – 2006
Preserving our literary heritage
By Petamber Persaud
July 23, 2006
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That love for books was passed unto him through his mother, Louisa, a housewife, who loved reading. That desire was so strong in young Lloyd that he endured counting the days to the birthday qualifying him to join the library.
Lloyd Searwar was born in Georgetown, British Guiana, on July 28, 1925, the eldest of seven issues of his parents, Louisa and Humphrey. His father operated a grocery business in Vreed-en-Hoop on the West Coast of Demerara even after moving to live in Georgetown.
Lloyd Searwar attended Queenstown Roman Catholic School before going on to the highly-regarded Modern High School that produced notables including Sir Harry Annamanthado, Professor Drayton, Bishops Benedict Singh and Randolph George, Justice Guya Persaud, Dr. Balwant Singh, R. B. O. Hart and Balram Singh Rai.
Early in life, young Searwar displayed the propensity to be a team player as well as a leader. That showed up whether he was playing ‘bat-an-baal’ with Clive Lloyd and Lance Gibbs, inviting friends to listen to opera music on the radio or debating at school.
As he matured, Searwar found the need to share his knowledge and ideas, to have his ideas tested and to analyse the opinions of others. To examine church doctrine and issues pertaining to Catholicism, he founded the discussion group at the Catholic Centre in Brickdam. He organised the book-oriented discussion circle at the Carnegie Library (now the National Library), Main and Church Streets, Georgetown. That circle included persons like A. J. Seymour, Cheddi and Janet Jagan, Clement Brandt, Father Francis Fenn, among others. Searwar was part of the Young Men’s Guild led by E. A. Q. Potter, a group that discussed current affairs and cultural matters. He was also part of an informal group labelled, ‘Gang of Five’, which included Martin Carter, Ian McDonald, David DeCaires and Miles Fitzpatrick.
Searwar entered the world of work as a Class 2 Clerk in the General Registry Office before moving across to the Bureau of Public Information (BPI), a move that started a long, fruitful and satisfying career as a public servant and servant of the people, locally, regionally and internationally.
To be a good servant he had to master his trade. Between 1951 and 1952, by way of a British Council bursary award, he earned a Diploma in Politics and Economics from Oxford University, returning home to streamline systems in public information, working along with Carlotta Croal, Celeste Dolphin, Victor Forsythe, Lorna McArthur and Arthur Seymour. In radio land, especially the with programme, Broadcasts to Schools, much was done by way of researching and disseminating the history and folklore of the country.
By the time Searwar was elevated to Chief Information Officer in the BPI, he was earmarked for a higher calling. In 1966, he was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With promotion goes responsibility so between 1970 and 1971, by way of a UK Government scholarship, Searwar worked for his M. A. in International Relations from the University of Sussex. For Searwar, that was also a time in the shift in the dissemination of information – from the air waves to the printed page. He was responsible for the production of such publications like GUYTEL, GUYGRAM and the GUYANA JOURNAL, ‘to keep the overseas missions informed’.
But that was by no means his full contribution to the written heritage of this country. He wrote numerous papers that have become reference documents in the field of Guyana’s foreign policy and international relations. He wrote for KYK-OVER-AL and KAIE, sometimes under the pseudonym, ‘Critias’, he wrote the Wednesday Editorial for the Stabroek News from 2001 on regional and international affairs, and he published a booklet, THE THREAT OF NON-ALIGNMENT, for the Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement hosted by Guyana in 1972. However, one of his more significant contributions to Guyanese literature was the publication in 1988 of THEY CAME IN SHIPS, an anthology of Indo-Guyanese prose and poetry. That monumental work was compiled by Searwar, Laxhmie Kallicharran, Joel Benjamin and Ian McDonald.
Lloyd Searwar was a consummate litterateur, conscious of the movement of world literature, conscious of direction of West Indian literature especially through the work of Henry Swanzy’s ‘Caribbean Voices’ and cognisant of the explosion of Guyanese literature through his support of KYK-OVER-AL and other literary periodicals. His co-founding (with Arthur Hemstock and Bertie Martin) of the Threatre Guild Playhouse in Kingston, Georgetown, was a landmark development in drama.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as Ambassador, he connected with the top diplomats at the time including Shridath Ramphal, Rudy Collins, Rudy Insanally, Rashleigh Jackson, James Matheson, Barton Scotland, among others. And at whatever level of involvement, at the United Nations General Assembly, at the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM), or at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Searwar served and led with distinction.
As an educator, he was appointed a Visiting Fellow on a Ford Foundation Fellowship at the Institute of International Relations (IIR) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, Co-ordinator of the Post-Graduate Diploma in International Studies at the University of Guyana (UG) and was elected first Director of the Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1998-2001).
When Searwar died in 2006, he was already a legend of his time, but he also left behind an invaluable library of books and helpmate, Francina, who was with him, side by side.
Sources: * Interviews with Francina Searwar, and Bridgette Searwar – July 2006
* Stabroek News, January 2004 & January 2006