Andaiye in Swahili means ‘a daughter comes home’. Born Sandra Williams on 11 September 1942 in Georgetown, Guyana, she changed her name to ‘Andaiye’ in 1970 as the Black Power movements swept her country and the wider Caribbean region.
Andaiye was seen as a transformative figure on the frontlines of the struggles for liberation and freedom. She was an early member and active in the leadership of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), a socialist party in Guyana which fought against authoritarian rule and continued throughout her life to focus on justice for the working-class and rural women’s rights and on bridging ethnic barriers between Indo and Afro-Guyanese women.
Andaiye was a founding member of Red Thread Women, an organization that advocated for women’s care work to be fairly remunerated, worked at the University of the West Indies and with CARICOM. Never afraid to challenge governments, she pointed out gender imbalances in state boards, laws that discriminated against sex workers, called for abortion rights in Jamaica and spoke out against trade agreements such as the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allowed for the free movement of women domestic migrant workers but did not give their children the same rights.
Andaiye published several scholarly essays, wrote newspaper columns and also edited the last books of Walter Rodney, the Guyanese political activist and fellow WPA leader, who was assassinated in 1980. A cancer survivor, Andaiye was one of the founders of the Guyana Cancer Society and the Cancer Survivors’ Action Group. She also served on the executive of the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA), as a Director of Help and Shelter and as Board Member of the Guyana National Commission on Women. She received a number of awards, including the Golden Arrow of Achievement in Guyana (the fourth highest national award).
Andaiye passed away on 31 May 2019 at the age of 77. The subsequent tributes that flowed in from activists, friends and those inspired by her life spoke eloquently to her amazing legacy and her beautiful humanity.
Here are but a few:
“Andaiye had a profound effect on me...she was so many things, an educator, fighter, she taught me to be self-critical, to think more clearly, she taught me about survival, about incredible courage, about compassion, about going beyond external appearances and treating people as people and not being distracted by status, class, race...anything.”
- Peggy Antrobus, Feminist Activist, Author, Scholar, Barbados
“The kind of confident idealism Andaiye expressed, this willingness to confront the world and a stubborn belief that you could actually change it... That politics of hope...How else to honour her life, legacy and memory but to keep doing the work ethically and with ongoing self-critique? And to put women’s caring work at the center of it.”
- Tonya Haynes, Barbados
“I can hear her quip at our collective keening. So through the tears I can laugh. Deep bows to you beloved Andaiye, thank you for everything. Love and light for your spirit’s journey. Tell Walter and all the ancestors howdy.” - Carol Narcisse, Jamaica