What about the contribution of slaves? To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
November 28, 2001

THE Constitution of every Nation State is an important document, it is not merely a statement that identifies the personality of its people, it captures its history, struggle and vision for the future. It is for those of us who live today and for posterity.

Its words should not only inspire, but be a literary gem for our children, our descendants to ponder with pride, and pleasure.

The language in this important document should be so tastefully, and carefully put together in sentences, that they become symbols of a people with a desire to be respected among Nations, and as in the words by Cleveland Hamilton, in the "Song of the Republic."

"To climb the glorious perch, to fame, prosperity, join in the universal search, for world-wide comity."

William Alston put it succinctly. "We naturally think of words as the sorts of symbols that are organised into a system when we have a language. But the linguistic analogues of symbols, which exist outside language, are sentences, not words. This is because an isolated symbol has to be serviceable for performing a complete act of communication all by itself, and within language it is the sentence which has this role."

The sentence in our constitution must flow like a delightful symphony, while communicating its powerful message to all Guyanese and non-Guyanese.

The one I saw in the official gazette dated, August 7, 2001 is a bit of a disappointment.

While not disagreeing with most of the ideas, I beg the President to allow those in our society, capable, to be asked to rewrite the preamble and other portions.

The first sentence of the preamble gives the impression of a draftsman in a bit of a hurry, anxious to get on with the next assignment.

While not seeking to go through it line by line, another example is the portion, which refers to our young people, 'belong to them,' instead of repeating to 'its young people,' would be both elegant and easier to read.

While at this noble assignment, I beg all the parties that took part in the preparation of the final draft not to ignore a flaw in our constitution.

There ought to be some specific reference that slavery made to the making of our Guyana.

It was this labour that for centuries, provided fabulous fortunes for the Europeans. The end of the slave trade allowed people from Asia and Europe to be part of our Country, adding excitement, and lustre to Guyana, to ignore this important causative factor will be unpardonable.

Reference is properly made to the value and the special place in our Nation State is our indigenous people, why was nothing said of the massive contribution of slavery?

Without machinery slave labour built our entire coastal infrastructure. The question of ancestral rights seemed to have escaped the attention of all of the parties in Parliament. This is a great pity.

I beg for the sake of our National pride, the truth, ancestral piety, and patriotic exhilaration that there is still time to correct this defect.

Please Mr. President, Leader of the Opposition, members of Parliament, fellow citizens, I beg that we put the Benjamins, the DeCaries, the McDonalds, the Roses among others to work, it will take just a few hours for us to have a better worded document.

We must not live with that bit of pedestrian literature, I read yesterday in the official gazette to be assented to by His Excellency the President 'Little things means a lot,' and the fabric of our society need to be secured.
By Hamilton Green, J.P.