The regional journalism fraternity woke up early Saturday morning with the sad news that one of their colleagues, Guyanese-born George Alleyne, a contributor to Caribbean Life, was found dead the day before at his home in Barbados.
Alleyne, who covered Barbados for Caribbean Life, was 61.
Bert Wilkinson, Alleyne’s lifelong friend, fellow journalist and compatriot, who also contributes to Caribbean Life, said Alleyne, in recent years, “had been battling some health challenges but still found the time to pound away at the keyboard.
“His death means that he would also have missed the chance to have become an established weekend farmer in Guyana,” Wilkinson told Caribbean Life on Sunday.
The online news outlet Barbados TODAY, for which Alleyne was also a contributor, said on Saturday that “the respected Barbados-based regional journalist died suddenly Friday.”
It quoted Alleyne’s sister, Ann Wallace, as saying on Facebook: “I write on behalf of my family with utter sadness and a painful heart to inform you, his friends, that our dear, sweet loving brother, father, uncle, cousin and friend, Ian George Alleyne, has passed away. May he rest in peace.”
Barbados TODAY said Alleyne, who, up until his death, was a freelance contributor to the paper, “had a career spanning more than four decades.”
“We have been shaken by George’s untimely passing,” said Editor-in-Chief Sandy Deane. “He was a valued member of our Barbados TODAY family.
“His professionalism, his insightful knowledge of local and regional happenings, dry humor, and kind and humble nature will be missed,” she added. “No one was more committed to the very highest principles of integrity, fairness, accuracy and insight that represent the best journalism.
“We pay tribute to his contribution to our development, and endeavor to let his work and guidance remain with us,” Deane continued.
The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) described Alleyne as “a committed and avid regionalist.”
“A staunch advocate of regional food sovereignty, George believed his native Guyana should be the breadbasket of the Caribbean and, thus, reduce our US $5billion-plus annual import bill,” said ACM in a statement, adding that he was “ever passionately devoted to the idea of a vibrant, productive and purpose-driven Caribbean civilization and to a craft that daily seeks to tell its story as he would – comprehensively, earnestly and fearlessly.”
The Barbados Association of Journalists and Media Workers (BARJAM) also expressed “shock and sadness” over Alleyne’s sudden death, conveying condolences to Alleyne’s family and praying for “comfort and consolation in their time of grief.”
Wilkinson said that Ian George Alleyne started his journalistic career at the Government Information Service in Guyana in the early 1980s.
He then transferred to the state-owned Guyana Chronicle, the lone daily at the time, Wilkinson said.
“Recognizing his talent and sharp intellect, management placed him in a cadet training scheme from which he emerged with flying colors,” he said, adding that Alleyne served at the Chronicle until around 1989, when he migrated to Canada.
Wilkinson said Alleyne covered politics, sports and trade while working at the Chronicle and “scribbled a few articles for ethnic papers in Canada while there up to mid-95.”
Alleyne then returned home, spent a few years and then moved to Barbados to join his Barbadian father and sisters, Wilkinson said.
“He hooked up with the big names at CANA (Caribbean News Agency, which later merged with the Caribbean Broadcasting Union to form the Caribbean Media Corporation), spending a while there and later with Barbados TODAY,” Wilkinson said.
Besides journalism, Alleyne was an avid sports fan, football (soccer) in particular, Wilkinson said.
He said Alleyne was a senior executive of Western Tigers Division One football team in Guyana in the 1980s and covered the sport periodically for the Chronicle, “happily volunteering if staff were short.”
In addition, Wilkinson said Alleyne was, at one time, active in the Young Socialist Movement (YSM), the youth arm of the People’s National Congress (PNC) in Guyana as a youth, “but eased out because of journalist commitments.”
“George was a committed and avid regionalist, and believed in unity,” he said.
Wilkinson said Alleyne was the father of an only child, daughter Tendai, who was born in Guyana but raised in Barbados and the Cayman Islands, where Alleyne had also worked as an editor and writer.
Besides Tendai and Wallace, Alleyne is survived by two other sisters — Myrtle Pitt and Grace Alleyne — and other relatives and friends.
We, at Caribbean Life, join the global journalism fraternity in mourning the unexpected loss of our colleague, George Alleyne, and extend our sincere condolences to his family.
He will be solely missed. May his soul rest in perpetual peace!