Friday, May 22, 2009

World's Oldest Blogger (96) lives in Florida

This story has been published by the South Korean citizen reporters' journal OhmyNewsInternational

World's Oldest Blogger (96) lives in Florida

"I am not a professed Muslim" says this Guyanese philosopher/poet

Randall Butisingh, a poet and philosopher living in Florida (US), who was born in British Guiana (now Guyana), 96 years ago, is probably the world's oldest blogger, succeeding the much-loved Spanish great-grandmother Maria Amelia Lopez Solino, who died on May 20, aged 97.

"I am not a professed Muslim," Butisingh wrote last year. "I was raised as a Christian from birth by Hindu parents and grew up in the Christian Church, in a village which was predominantly Afro-Guyanese. But eventually I separated from the church as I saw it as exclusive and divisive and I wanted to be involved in all mankind.... I am at present living in the home of my son-in-law and daughter, who are Muslims."

Butisingh was born on December 1, 1912. He grew up in Buxton, East Coast Demerara, where he received his primary education. In 1927 he passed the school leaving examination and became a pupil teacher at the age of 15. So began a 45-year career as a teacher, with a few short breaks, until he retired in 1972.

Eager to learn more about him, OhmyNews sent an email to Butisingh, who replied:

I was happy to hear from you and for getting the news that I am probably the oldest blogger in the world.

As regard my health I am in fairly good shape after surviving a serious illness at the age of 91. I can do most things for myself like showering, dressing, preparing my breakfast, etc. I can walk, unsupported by a stick. At present, the only pill I am taking is the aspirin (low strength) to help with my circulation. My blood pressure is stable -- 140 over 70.

I have 7 children, 19 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. My oldest great-grandaughter is 21. They all live in the USA, except for 1 daughter and a grandson who live in Guyana, my homeland. I live in Florida, the Sunshine State in the USA, with a daughter and her husband who is a physician.

Here's a list of just some of his literary work:

* Three books of poems: Loves Light, Wild Flowers and Loves Balm.
* A book of thoughts: Flashes of Light.
* Articles and letters to newspapers on education, morality and other issues.
* Paper: Hindi in Guyana.
* Thesis: The Role of the School in the Estate Community.
* Translation of a biography of Mahatma Gandhi from Hindi to English.

The American Poetry Association has recognized Butisingh as a Poet of Merit.

In his late seventies he learned to read Arabic script and can still read from the Holy Quran and recite a few of the Suras (chapters) from memory. He can also read Urdu, a sister language of Hindi, written in the Persian script.

At 89, he began learning to play the recorder, and last year was studying Spanish and documenting his life story, dating back to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

An Indian blogger, Anki Bajaj, wrote this tribute:

Butisingh’s blogs are versatile and different from others including Buxton (his home town), economics, politics, environment, history, philosophy, poetry, psychology, religion and so on.

Butisingh has never visited India as he does not like travelling, however he is updated with the history and culture of the country. He is a fond of languages. He grew up in African slaves, where dialect of Hindi and Creolese were spoken...

The venerable blogger does his own typing. He once wrote:

Gold and silver have I none, but such as I have, give I unto thee. If my messages can touch only one heart, I know I have not lived in vain.

You can read the new World's Oldest Blogger's thoughts by clicking on Randall Butisingh's Weblog

Thousands of Spanish-speaking bloggers around the world are mourning the death on May 20 of the previous holder of the "World's Oldest Blogger" title.

"A Spanish grandmother who billed herself as the 'world's oldest internet blogger' has died at the age of 97," says a BBC report:

"Maria Amelia Lopez only began blogging from her seaside home in Galicia two years ago.

"But her postings on international affairs, Spanish politics and old age quickly turned her into a celebrity, attracting followers around the world."

Maria Amelia's blog attracted worlwide media attention, which resulted in more than 1.5 million hits.

As a lifelong leftist, she often mentioned her support for Galicias's Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Eventually the politician met the famous blogger, to her great delight.

Hundreds of messages of condolence (in Spanish) are pouring in to Maria Amelia's website

In one of her last postings in February she said: "When I'm on the Internet, I forget about my illness. The distraction is good for you -- being able to communicate with people. It wakes up the brain, and gives you great strength."

Her grandson Daniel has left one final post, thanking readers for their support.

"[There were] 880 days when her blog made her happy... the support she needed to enjoy her last days of life," he wrote.

"When somebody leaves after 97 years, living with joy from the beginning to the end, we can't be sad.

"Wherever you are, grandmother, you will read these comments, all of them without doubt. She will laugh at some, will learn with others, she might get annoyed at the specific 'language' used in some ... but she will be happy reading all of them."

Like Maria Amelia, Randall Butisingh is also liberal-minded and sometimes writes about politics.

On November 30, 2008, Butisingh's blog was headlined "Mumbai to Obama: End Bush's War on Terror".

US President Barack Obama said recently "I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries." Will he meet Butinsingh when he next visits Florida?


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