Rahman Bacchus Gajraj passed away quietly in Toronto,
Canada in January 2004. The State, the City Council and the
people of Guyana took little notice.
R. B. Gajraj is a name we should pause a moment to remember
at this time when we are celebrating the arrival of East
Indians to these shores.
R. B. Gajraj was born in the year 1912. His father, H.B.
Gajraj, was President of the British Guiana East Indian Association
formed in 1917, but faltered) when the Centenary of
Indian Arrival was celebrated on Thursday, May 5, 1938.
R.B. Gajraj himself was Honorary Secretary to the
B.G.E.I.A. (resuscitated in 1936). Their home, Ajmir House, on
High Street, Kingston, Georgetown, was a place where Muslim
Indians met and discussed matters of general interest to the
B.G.E.I.A - British Guiana East Indian
In Volume 1 Number 1 of The Indian Opinion (the official
organ of the B.G.E.I.A.), H.B. Gajraj writes: "The B.G.E.I.A.
was founded in 1917 by a few far-sighted Indians who saw in
the distant years ahead of them the great need for an
organization of their own which would be able to weld our
people together socially, economically, as well as
politically, which would serve to foster education among our
people, carefully guard and protect their rights and gradually
improve and elevate them that with the passing years they
would be able, more and more, to take on full civic and
colonial responsibilities and occupy positions in the colony's
progressive march forward which from our ancestry, our
heritage and our numbers, we fully justify and are entitled
to. I want everyone to realize that Indians are striving hard
to elevate themselves as partners in this British colonial
H.B. Gajraj, no doubt, saw that Indians, by elevating
themselves socially would also contribute towards the
elevation of the colony as a whole.
H.B. Gajraj's son, R. B. Gajraj, rose to his father's
expectations of the transplanted Indian in every way.
Here are some of the achievements of this Guyanese East
Indian who served his country with distinction:
of the United Sad'r Anjuman and generally
recognized as the Wazir of the Muslim community in British
The first East Indian ever to sit on a Board of any
Insurance Company in the country.
Councillor (having won his seat in Kingston, a
predominantly Portuguese ward of the city and the Portuguese
dominated the Council both as members and as staff).
Under his tenure as Mayor of Georgetown, potable water was
introduced in the city.
Lord Mayor of the city of Georgetown (a position
created by the Queen of England)
Parliament from 1961-1964 (during the PPP tenure)
and, again, from 1969-1970 (during the PNC tenure).
second Ambassador of an independent Guyana
to the United States of America.
He was also accredited to Canada and was extraordinarily
respected in the countries where he was posted.
Later, he served as Guyana High Commissioner to India
(from 1970). He did not return to his homeland after his
duty as High Commissioner to India was completed.
R.B. Gajraj was a Parliamentarian, a live wire in
organisations like the Anjuman and other charitable
organisations and a keen businessman.
He possessed a fertile mind. He was a flambouyant man who
loved public speaking and was the moving figure in the
founding of certain social institutions especially where
Indians were debarred from existing ones.
R. B. Gajraj was married into the Ruhomon family, early Indians who came
into the city and became westernized.
Parliament ought to have paid tribute to this son of the