Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo: A true Guyanese patriot and fearless politician

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“It is not about the next election, but the progression of our next generation.” This has always been the mantra of a determined young man who grew up in the bountiful lands of Whim Village, Corentyne Berbice. Today, Moses Veerasammy Nagamootoo stands as Guyana’s Prime Minister and the reality of his motto could not be more alive.
During the 2015 General and Regional Election campaign, Nagamootoo travelled all across the nation, inspiring as many as he could to embrace a new era, a new time, a new breed of politicians. He invited the nation to welcome a new type of politics: the kind that despises self-aggrandizement and rewards those caught in corruption with deserving penalties.
Politics, for this feisty and well-respected orator, is not a one way ticket to wealth but a platform for transforming lives, making a real difference and fostering national unity. Nagamootoo has fought untiringly for the place he stands in today. And if one were to trace back to when he was 14, the time when he first entered politics, every decision he has made since then would prove that he was not only preparing for this post all his life but was perhaps, destined for it.
Nagamootoo was born on November 30, 1947, to Gangama (Chunoo) and Nagamootoo Ramaswamy (Mootoo), both of whom are deceased.
He recalled his parents to be amorous, humble and dedicated workers.
“I always found my mother’s name to be beautiful because it means, “Mother of the Sea.” She was a strong woman and always supportive of my father. My parents were in the fishing business. My father had some fishing boats and the day’s catch was what my mother sold at her stall. My parents worked really hard to ensure that we had food on the table and clothes on our backs and while they exhibited a great deal of contentment and happiness, they always pushed me to dream big and to know that anything is possible.”
“Yes, we grew up poor but they gave me rich lessons about life. I am grateful for the lessons they passed on to me especially the importance of valuing the little things in life and being humble no matter what you do, or where you end up in life. They taught me the importance of discipline and that it is key to anything you want to be successful in. If you don’t have that, then regardless of how talented you are, your success if or when it comes would be short-lived because you need discipline to maintain it. So, my mom and dad passed on some principles of life, which are responsible for where I am today,” expressed the Prime Minister.
Leading a humble life back then, Nagamootoo’s parents enrolled him at Auchlyne Scots School, located in Corentyne, Berbice. It was there, that this aspiring politician first laid his eyes on his, “Juliet”.
“Of course, I enjoyed my primary school days, for I love learning new things each day, but boy was I awe-struck when I first saw this pretty, little girl –Sita. I remember just staring at her because she was so beautiful. I knew at that moment that she would have my heart forever. There was no doubt about that. At that time I was perhaps 11-years old and she was nine. She didn’t live far from my village too. ”
The young “Romeo” was convinced that he had found his soulmate but he hadn’t seen much of her after he had moved on to Rose Hall and Corentyne Comprehensive High Schools. After high school, Nagamootoo reconnected with Sita and even then, he was still honing his talents in the political sphere.
He was a member of the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) and later joined the “big boys” in the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) where he made sterling contributions. He did this while juggling the demands of a teaching career from 1964 at the Corentyne Comprehensive High School. But he was fired in 1967 for giving a lesson on Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Nagamootoo decided to go on his own and co-founded D’Edwards High in Rosignol but soon left after a disagreement with the principal where it ended in a physical altercation.
“Yes, I had to give him some lashes with a wild cane because he misappropriated school funds and that didn’t go down well in my book. Even from then I detested any form of corruption, and I just couldn’t stay there anymore so I took the students to a Hindu temple and I taught them there. It was a private school and I called it the Zeezight Secondary School. It was good for some time but I left there after giving it a few years,” the Prime Minister stated.
Leaving the teaching career behind, Nagamootoo in 1970 made a few attempts to join Guyana’s military force but this was not realized.
“I tried to join the army and they threw me out the first day because I was a rebel. I had a smart mouth I guess and in the army that was not tolerated so I tried joining the police force and they told me twice that I was just too short. They told me I was short by quarter inch so it was clear that that path was not for me. It was really hard trying to make a living,” said Nagamootoo.
But the power of love would soon determine that it was time he tied the nuptial knot with his life partner, Sita and he did so on May 23, 1971. Behind the scenes, the politician enjoys a rich and supportive marriage with his wife, Sita Nagamootoo, of over 40 years, and the overwhelming love and appreciation from their four children: Angela, Maria, Adela and Moses Ernesto and, of course, their five grandchildren.
Later, he was then requested by former President Janet Jagan, the late wife of former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan, to join the Mirror Newspaper. There, he enjoyed a rich career in journalism but still refined himself in various academic fields.
During that time, the “Lover of Fine Art” became the founder of the National Union of Students, and functioned as the first Organising Secretary. He was also recognized as the leading activist for restoration of democracy, press freedom and human rights.
He was also the student of the Accabre College of Social Sciences and even became a student of the Venezuela Spanish Language Institute.
Given his exceptional journalistic skills and literary talents, he was invited to the Allen White School of Journalism, University of Kansas in the United States of America (USA). There, he worked as a visiting journalist and it was sponsored by US Information Services.
Commenting on that period of his life the Prime Minister said, “I loved writing and I was a journalist at some of the news outlets we had in those days. Going to the USA as a visiting journalist was just an incredible experience. It was not a degree programme but it was part of a fellowship programme and it gave me the opportunity to learn how to write editorials and how to budget stories for the newspaper, that is to say you choose based on priority. It deepened my love for Literature and writing. Literature is the foundation of life and because of how much I care for journalism it is one of those programmes which I want to reintegrate into our system because it is very beneficial.”
The First Vice President continued, “When I was there I worked with so many persons and wrote for so many newspapers, the top ones too. So I enjoyed my days as being a journalist because it not only sharpens your oral and writing skills but deepens your appreciation for the power of words. I knew that this would be extremely beneficial to me if I wanted to become a politician. You cannot run from the fact that how you say something and what you say can inspire your fellow man to be better or make him work a little harder to be the best he can be. Those years were, perhaps my most enjoyable during my working life because it helped me to document the events of the day; it helped me to keep a critical and objective eye and most of all it taught me to see all sides of the coin before making a pronouncement.”
So successful was he in this field that he was awarded the International Organisation of Journalists (IOJ) Scroll of Honour for Journalism from Vietnam and the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) Press Week Award. He was also recognized as a Harvard University Guest Author and Allen White University Fellow (USA).
As a thriving journalist of his time, Nagamootoo held several posts which included: General Secretary of the Union of Guyanese Journalists (UGJ) between 1970 and 1992; Founder/Executive Member of Caribbean Association of Media Workers from 1986 to 1992; Executive Member of the Federation of Latin American Journalists (FELAP); as well as Vice-President of the IOJ during the years 1990 and 1996.
He said that his 20 years in journalism was truly an enriching part of his life.
But adoration for a new field, that being Law, would soon sprout, and of course, every academic area for Nagamootoo had to be refined. As such, he moved on to the University of Guyana (UG) to read for his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. Unfortunately, he did not have the funds to move immediately on to the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad for his Legal Education Certificate (LEC) so his aspirations in this area were placed on pause but only for a short while.
The General and Regional Elections which were held in 1992 and would see the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic ousting the People’s National Congress (PNC).
Although he was a successful journalist, Nagamootoo still maintained a firm grip on his political aspirations and had already proven by the 1970’s that he was a rising force to be reckoned with in the local world of politics.
“In those days, the leaders of politics gave you a feeling that anything was possible, that it was an honour to serve your country and a privilege once given the position to do so. So, in my teens, I was involved in politics and knew that that was where I belong, that is where I feel at home. Politics is never self-serving and it is disheartening when I see others falling into that poisonous trap. For me, it is about making a real difference in the lives of my fellow Guyanese. One of my greatest accomplishments is being able to say ‘Yes, I contributed to the foundation that will enable the generation to survive and to do so successfully.’ And when you lead with honour and integrity, you also leave behind a great example for your young ones to follow and that is another important aspect of politics for me,” intimated the Prime Minister.
It came as no surprise that in 1992, Nagamootoo was called upon to serve as Senior Minister of Local Government and Regional Development with responsibilities for Information and Amerindian Affairs.
To this, Nagamootoo said, “Politics is a rough and tumble world but in every way I was ready for it. I was ready for this since I was a teenager. As I have said before, this is my calling and I have no regrets about taking this path. Indeed, it is not always hugs and kisses among politicians. It can get heated and dirty but I’ve got the skin to deal with it. Mentally I was always ready and nothing was going to stop me from making my mark in this arena.”
He continued, “Politics is a life changing arena and it isn’t for the faint hearted. I knew that I had certain things to accomplish and I had something meaningful to bring to the table and I believed in myself and the policies I had. This has been a truly remarkable journey for me and I think that I could safely say that I have no regrets because every decision has led me to where I was destined to be and I am thankful all the opportunities which came my way.”
Describing himself as a person who always finishes what he started, Nagamootoo said that he eventually saved up enough money and completed his legal studies. He graduated in 2002 and soon established himself as a true legal warrior in the courtroom.
“Being able to practice law while dedicating myself fully to the world of politics was a great accomplishment for me. The two fields really married well: the skills I employed for Law enhanced my performance in the political arena and vice versa. Both were demanding fields but fulfilling in various ways. For me, it was the ultimate win-win situation because I was making a difference in the world of politics and also in the world of law where people often needed your help.”
Nagamootoo served as a member of Cabinet under four Presidents of Guyana and as their Chief Speech Writer as well. For 11 years after, he was a Member of Parliament (MP) and there he served as a Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Reform from 1996 to 2001 and as Chairman of the Oversight Committee on Constitutional Reform from 1999 to 2001.
From 2006 to 2009, Nagamootoo was a Member of the Foreign Relations, Standing Orders and Constitutional Reform Committees in addition to the Committees on Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill and Legal Practitioners Bill.
Nagamootoo’s relationship with the PPP came to an end in 2011 as he left that camp for a robust and aggressive party, the Alliance For Change (AFC), with which he similarly served as Member of Parliament.
The AFC then joined forces with a then five-party coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in February 2015, in the lead up to the May 2015 General and Regional Elections where they returned victorious.
Their win, which ended a 23-year rule by the PPP, saw Nagamootoo being sworn in as Prime Minister and First Vice-President on May 20, 2015 under the leadership of David Arthur Granger, the country’s eight Executive President.
Reflecting on the lead up to their triumph, the Prime Minister admitted that the elections campaigns were indeed grueling. Even though he is known for the ‘blows’ he delivered, Nagamootoo confessed that he held back on some of his witty and ingenious slurs he could have shared. He noted that this was so because he had his harshest critic by his side: his faithful wife Sita who is known for the years she spent serving as an exceptional educator, moulding many young minds.
“She has been my harshest critic on the campaign and it is because of her that I held back on the full force of my jabs during the elections time. But I am grateful for her: she is supportive and loving and has never once faltered. Throughout this turbulent journey she has been true. I am indebted to her for her unconditional love in every way,” the Prime Minister expressed.
To date, Nagamootoo says he is proud of his literary accomplishments which include his two novels: Hendree’s Cure, published by the Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom, as well as Fragments from Memory which was published this year. The former book was a Nominee in 2001 for the Guyana Literature Prize for First Novel.
Nagamotoo is also known for editing For the Fighting Front: An Anthology of Revolutionary Poems which was a Special Edition for the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) Festival Congress in 1794.
His critically acclaimed publications include: Three Trials of Arnold Rampersaud; Towards a Peaceful Solution: a Commentary on the Guyana-Venezuela Border Issue; Fraud: a Synopsis of Guyana’s Rigged 1980 Elections; The State of the Free Press in Guyana (with former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan), Race, Class and Nationhood (with Dr. Cheddi Jagan) and Party Paramountcy over the Guyana Media.
His prized manuscripts to this date remain; Caribbean Perspective of Suriname’s 1980 Coup, Origins of Mass-Based Parties in the Caribbean, the Grenada Grundnorm and Revolutionary Legality as well as NAFTA – Implications for the Caribbean.
The First Vice President of Guyana is also the recipient of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Community Service Award from India, the PPP Meritorious Member Award and the Distinguished Service Plaque from the PPP/NY Support Group.
“My life has indeed been a fulfilling one and I know that my party, the APNU+AFC will deliver on all its promises and even more for the people. I assure you that we will deliver the good life for the people.”
“The important lesson I think to be learned from all that I have been through is to believe in yourself. Your circumstances do not define the destination. Look at where I started out and I didn’t allow the lack of resources to daunt my will power of getting to where I needed to be. And that is what I hope to continue to inspire the other young leaders of this nation to do and to understand. Once you have that discipline, the dedication and determination to achieve your goal, nothing, and I mean nothing is impossible.”
This accomplished son of the soil said that he will continue to fearlessly pursue the enrichment and survival of the citizens of his dear land. For him, this remains an honour.

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