The implications are staggering
Stabroek News
August 31, 2001

Dear Editor,

In his letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] captioned "An appropriate acronym for Guyanese" (22.8.200l), Dr C. Kenrick Hunte presented an interesting mathematics problem: "Could you work out all the other possibilities you can derive from taking six things two, three, four and five at a time? This will give you some knowledge of the genotypes in Guyana..."

To perform the necessary calculations we use the combination formula: nCr, which gives all the possible combinations taking n things r at a time. Since we have six historical ethnic groups, then n=6. Taking the 6 groups one at a time, that is, r = 1, the combination formula becomes 6C1 - 6. This is the case when the six groups remain genetically isolated and no intermarriage takes place: the six groups remain six groups, pure and uncombined. However, we do know that combinations took place among the six groups through parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents, great-great-great grandparents, etc. Hence, taking all the possible combinations of 2 groups from the 6 original groups (r = 2), we obtain 6C2 = 15 combinations. For increasing combinations of groups, r = 3,4,5,6, from the 6 original groups, the calculations are respectively: 6C3 = 20, 6C4 = 15, 6C5 = 6 and 6C6 = 1. The total number of possible combinations is therefore the sum of all the combinations: 6+15+20+6+1 = 63. In other words, there are 63 genotypical ethnic groups in Guyana.

Here is another interesting mathematics problem. How many great-great-great-great-great grandparents do you have? The answer: 2 raised to the 7th power which gives 128. So if each one of us had 128 foreparents seven generations or roughly 175 years ago, then how many foreparents did we each have twenty generations (500 years) ago? The exact figure is 1,048,576, which is 2 raised to the 20th power. The implications are staggering. For instance, how many interethnic unions occurred during those generations and even before? How do we know that we might not be related to a person whom we beat up, violate, rob or otherwise discriminate against? As a personal example, a few years ago I was unsurprised to learn that an Indian co-worker and I share the same Indian immigrant great-great grandparents. And that's just four generations or sixteen great-great grandparents ago.

If I remember correctly the theme for the recent visit of the Hindu holy men from India was "The world is one family." The Islamic teaching is, I believe, "Mankind is one nation." And the Bible teaches; "God has made all men of one blood." From the world of science we learnt that "all humans belong to one species." So there we have it: one family, one nation, one blood and one species. Therefore, telling people that "all awe is not one family" does nothing to heal the wounds of the nation; it only serves to further exacerbate racist feelings by promoting man's most dangerous myth: the fallacy of "race". Guyana is no longer a land of "six peoples", but a land of "sixty-three peoples" with three major cultures: Afro-European creole culture, East Indian creole culture and Amerindian culture.

One of the reasons for our "race" problem in Guyana is cultural intolerance. Some people just do not and will not respect other peoples' culture. I see nothing wrong with any Guyanese practising a culture of his/her choice, be it Indian, African, European, Amerindian, Chinese or Creole culture. Similarly, nothing is wrong or sinister for anyone to call himself or demand to be called by an ethnic appellation of his own choice: Indian, African, etc. Cultural diversity must be encouraged. Cultural tolerance must be promoted.

Indeed, we do belong to different ethnic group families, but in the final analysis we are one Guyanese family. Stop beating Indians. Stop marginalising Africans. Stop discriminating against Amerindians. After all, we are all brothers and sisters.

Yours faithfully,

M.L. Hackett