PNM stalwart Ferdie Ferreira launches book – Portrait of a Patriot

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THEIR WORK: Dr Sheila Rampersad and PNM stalwart Ferdie Ferreira with their book Portrait of a Patriot during its launch last week at the Angostura Glass House and Conference Centre in Laventille. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI –

THE launch of Ferdinand “Ferdie” Ferreira’s second book, Portrait of a Patriot, took place on Wednesday, one day after the author celebrated his 90th birthday, at the Angostura Glass House and Conference Centre. The book is a series of tributes to Ferreira, a self-taught political commentator and columnist.

Described as the “Dean of Docksford”, Ferreira was a close friend and adviser to the first prime minister of TT, Dr Eric Williams, and successive leaders of the People’s National Movement, a dock worker who promoted to deputy manager and former commissioner at the Port Authority, managing director at the Port & Maritime Services, and a national officer of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU).

Many of the tributes given acknowledged that many times patriots and those who had contributed to the nation were not given while the person was alive. Former AG Anthony I Smart said he was grateful and thankful to be able to celebrate Ferreira’s active and productive life with his friends and family.

SWWTU President General Michael Annisette said Ferreira had been a friend and mentor to him for years.

“While we had our disagreements, he taught me that friends must agree to disagree amicably. I look forward to engaging with him on Sundays, and it’s amazing that at 90 he still has the wit and insight he shows about what is going on in the world. He brings to the table a wealth of knowledge and experience. I come from the tradition of elders being libraries, and when you lose an elder, you lose that knowledge.”

Former PNM Secretary General Ashton Forde said he knew Ferreira since he was a child, when he would accompany his father to Balisier House and Ferreira would give him documents to read. He said Ferreira was a non-academic politician who had achieved more than many who had gone to university and was a shining example for young people.

The audience who attended the launch of Ferdie Ferreira’s new book, Portrait of a Patriot. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI –

Former Caribbean Shipping Association president Captain Rawle Baddaloo said Ferreira was an icon and more in the maritime sector, as he held the distinction of working up from a messenger to be the managing director of the Port & Maritime Services.

Prof Clement Imbert said while Ferreira was not formally trained, he was one of the most educated and academic human beings in TT.

Niece Debra Ferreira said even with his involvement with politics over the years, he upheld his role in the family and continues to take care of them.

“God has sustained him for 90 years. We are grateful to have been able to spend time with him, and we trust that he will see many more birthdays.”

Co-writer Sheila Rampersad said while Ferreira’s first book was an autobiography, the new book was a collage filled with other people’s portraits of the man.

“In Ferdie there is a truth of character that can take us into his world. He is not just a man of stories but a moral, tender heart at a time of violence. Ferdie travels light and true, and lives guided by an inner compass. Docker, activist, public educator, newspaper man, personality of this man, this carrier of our past, in rough waters, anchors us.”

She said the book is 71 pages long, small and compact, as they wanted a book small enough to accompany readers in a purse, bag, or glove compartment.

“We wanted a book where every page is a visual feast but not busy or noisy. We hope you will buy copies and share them with the young people in your lives. We would be especially interested in the feedback of the young people.”

Ferreira said TT had taken care of him for 90 years.

“My life’s journey has not only been about the government, politicians, entrepreneurs, union leaders, our charitable institutions, or the oppressed and dispossessed. Important as these institutions are, in the final analysis it is about you and I, how we play the hand that was dealt to us, what use we made of the opportunities available to us, always in the framework of law and order.”

In my autobiography, Political Encounters 1946-2016, I described my life as a dispossessed and vulnerable non-professional in a former colonial society and without wealth, inheritance, a profession or the right connection, you are classified as a common knockabout, and how I successfully navigated and overcame the insurmountable barriers and challenges and continued to serve my fellow men and by extension my country.”

Ferreira thanked all those who over the years recognised his contribution as a patriot of TT. He called for the people of TT to unite and observe the watchwords of discipline, tolerance, and production, and to not allow a minority to promote disunity in the nation.

Among the attendees at the launch were National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, Joan Yule-Williams, Brinsley Samaroo, Emmanuel George, Russell Higgins, Clarence Rhambarat, Lester Forde, Ramesh Deosaran, and Andy Johnson, among others.

The book can be found at the PaperBased Bookstore at the Normandie Hotel.