We have gained Independence but not attained unity

Says Donald Duff
Stabroek News
April 15, 2000

Recently I have been approached by a few persons who have expressed interest and concern over Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

The questioners wanted to know what was being done to help Chanderpaul and how soon would he be back in the West Indies team.

At first I couldn't understand the interest in young Chanderpaul's private life, but then I thought back to Hansie Cronje, the former South African cricket captain who has recently admitted that he accepted money from a bookmaker.

I thought of the reaction of the South African cricket authorities which, at first was solid support for the Afrikaner (later changed with Cronje's admission of guilt) and of the reaction of the South African people which ranged from disappointment to devastation.

And then I understood that people are concerned over the welfare of their sports stars.

Which is as it should be because by their exploits in the international arena, we can either feel proud or ashamed of them.

And that is why as a nation we ought to pay more attention to the welfare of our sporting ambassadors.

Sad to say, we have been deficient in this area.

A nation's most precious commodity is its people and we have been guilty of not treating our people properly, of treating expatriates better than our own.

Foreign cricket teams visiting Guyana get better treatment than our own West Indies team.

Carl Hooper, now in his self-imposed exile in Australia, was better treated in Barbados than he was at home.

Rohan Kanhai, after several years as Jamaica's national coach, is back home but are we making the fullest use of his knowledge and experience?

Andrew Lewis is on the verge of giving Guyana its first ever world boxing title, but is anything being done to ensure that his preparation is adequate; that he is trained to the hilt so that come June 3 we can all proudly celebrate?

Nothing. Not even lip service. But there will be plenty of lips flying if Lewis finally manages to secure for Guyana its first ever world title by a Guyanese fighting under the Golden Arrowhead.

As to international cricket, there is a lot of money being made and questions will now be asked whether the game receives its fair share in return or if the remuneration for international cricketers and the prize money for winning major international competitions such as the World Cup are adequate.

The `Cronje Affair' has shown to us just how important our sporting ambassadors are.

In fact, each and every Guyanese is important and deserves the best that his country has to offer him. Of course, they are also required to do their best for the land of their birth.

There is need for a re-awakening by Guyanese; to understand that although we are all individuals that we are all ineluctably linked; that the actions of one affect us all as a whole.

We may have gained Independence but we are yet to attain unity and that, could take an eternity.