I am hopeful that one day. . .

Guyana Chronicle
September 6, 2001

IN response to the letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] of Ms. Victoria-Ann Watson published in the Stabroek News on September 6, 2001, asking "What Happened?".

Please allow me to address you as Ms.

I found your letter inspiring but sad.

It was inspiring because it reminded me of how far we have deviated and retrogressed from the, instilled or learned, moral edits that made many of us proud to be Guyanese. A time tested honesty and respect for others, (irrespective of race, religion, economic well being or social status) that was passed down to future generations. A tolerance for the opinions, physical presence and ideas of others regardless of whether that idea was sound or infeasible. It was sad, because many of us Guyanese would find it hard to accept that the good and altruistic national personality has evolved to something so sinister that we are incapable of controlling and may take decades to correct.

In 1970, taking a course on Economic Development, I told my class mates that if Guyana's development is to take the path of the U.S, then I would prefer that Guyana remained in its under-developed state of being. Today, I see us taking that bloodied, unrepentant, disrespectful and shameless path that our descendants will try to analyse without closure or find a justification for. Our descendents will find themselves in the same quagmire as modern day Americans when trying to explain the crimes committed during slavery and the reconstruction period. Our descendants will face a history that they would like to forget.

Ms. Watson I am sure you are aware of what happened. It all started on the day we became independent. Before independence, our national existence was influenced or controlled by foreign forces that suppressed the deviant and selfish minds in our midst. After independence, we the people, allowed those minds to become dominant without any effective objections. We accepted and laughed at the political repartee to nationally important issues. We somewhat defied and pedestalised our leaders without question, and over time the politicians' race coated all aspects of Guyana's politics. The racial factor now being entrenched, clouds our objective thoughts and prevents us from selecting leaders that will exemplify the virtues of the Guyana you so eloquently narrated in your letter.

The effect of our national folly is now manifested by the social, economic and political reality of the nation.
"What Happened?", you ask.

Most of the blame must be laid on the doorsteps of the politicians. They failed to set the national path upon which Guyana would evolve with dignity. They failed to reinforce a national pride and create a Guyana full of hope and enthusiasm; instead they fostered other ill-conceived ideas that became national policy and was justified through the lens of the party and race politics. It is with the advent of independence that we were exposed to corruption, nepotism, political intrigue and racial intolerance. However, this blame must be shared also by the populace, for it is us that allowed the corrupt mind to become dominant. Currently, we see the seeds of corruption and racism flourishing and the political mechanism still reaping the accrued benefits as the nation slides into despair.

Contribution to Guyana's despair is also made by the foreign-based Guyanese. Many of us return home and become extravagant. We flaunt our acquired wealth, dressing in clothes purchased only for the trip, giving the impression that Guyana is not the place you should be. This flaunting creates the impression that those at home should leave and by leaving in such large numbers all of Guyana's institutions suffer from the brain drain that results.

Ms. Watson I am still full of hope that one day people will realise that race is a dividing and non-progressive factor. I am hopeful that one day

Guyana will elect a leader by a wide cross-section of the electorate, and that leader will govern Guyana and dispense justice, and the national agenda, based on merit and fairness. I am hopeful that the chosen leader will realise that there is a national consensus on the future of Guyana, and that in Guyana there is no place for homogenous voting, and therefore, issues of national significance will determine who rules, set policy, and unite the people as they justly deserve.

I am hopeful that one day politics in Guyana will never include or exclude any Guyanese from higher office due to the will of any ethnic group. I am also hopeful that the issues will be ethnically insignificant but nationally significant and as a consequence, the learned voting patterns will become non-existent. Then the question of "What Happened" will take on an historical context. Until then we can only reminisce on what was, what is, and what aught to be.