Let us tell our leaders we want no race hate
Stabroek News
February 4, 2002

Dear Editor,

There are two reasons why Guyana is in such a pathetic state of affairs. These are an inability of its citizens to respect each other's cultural and ethnic differences, and political leaders who put their quest for power before the development of Guyana. Many other reasons can be tabulated, but these are the root of the problem, the other reasons are as a result of these reasons. Many countries are faced with these challenges, but the ones that grow, that provide a better standard of living to its citizens are the ones that have developed a workable strategy to deal with these problems.

It is very ironic that the different races in Guyana profess such dislike for each other. These are people that rub their sweat into each other pores as they sit crammed in mini-buses, that drink together, work together, and more than occasionally have sex together. The most puzzling aspect of this relationship is that these people pray together in churches and mosques, and to a lesser extent in temples. They hug each other before and after prayers, they claim that their God is more important than anything else, and after they leave the mosques, temples and churches they refer to each other in the most derogatory terms. Why is this?

A number of years ago, when I was younger and more naive, I would loudly proclaim that America owes Guyana for the loss and pain suffered by at least two generations of Guyanese while America engaged in its obsessive dismantling of the communist system. During this period we saw many members and leaders of the PNC regime- favored by America over the "communist" PPP- engage in corruption, discrimination, inefficiency, and rigging of elections. We also saw the building of the Linden Highway, the Demerara Bridge, free higher education, and many other good things. But the bad outweighed the good, and eventually we reached the point of financial, and moral ruin. The moral decay is more devastating, humiliating and saddening than the financial ruin. I remember then President Burnham saying "We shall survive". We did, barely, and at whatever cost.

As Guyanese grappled with their situation, many could not help pondering the significance of that part of our national song that extols us to "arise triumphant, glorious from the ashes of our past". But we were weaker than in the 1960s. We had no moral high ground to take. We could not claim colonialism, white master manipulation, and discrimination.

We were betrayed by our own. Linden Forbes Sampson was given an opportunity for greatness, but he missed it, he blew it. He missed it, brothers and sisters, because he chose wrong over right. No end can justify evil. His successor, Desmond Hoyte, was not only unable to reverse the financial ruin, he was unsuccessful in uplifting the moral standards of the society. He did some good, but did not have the courage or ability to get rid of the racists and incompetents in the critical areas of government. And so like every people, when they have reached the end of their rope, Guyanese brought about a change in government.

The ascension of the PPP/Civic to the highest leadership position in the country was a chance for a new beginning. A chance to "arise triumphant, glorious from the ashes of the past".

I am still trying to figure out what went wrong. Why is it that these very people that were so loud in their condemnation of the bad policies of the former regime have let some of them continue.

Maybe it is true that a people get a government that they deserve. Maybe, it is that we are racist and our leaders are just feeding off our hate.

Brothers and sisters, I believe that Guyanese are basically decent people, fearing God, and like people all over the world, trying to provide a better future for their children. The greatest sin that we have committed is being gullible, in not saying no to what we know is wrong, and hoping that the bad will go away. It will not. It did not go away before and it will not go away now.

Let us tell our leaders that we want no race hate, and that we will no longer tolerate corruption. Let us strengthen the hands of the good people in the leadership of our country, so that they will not have to worry about being disgraced, and thrown out by the people that feed off of hate and corruption.

Let us make it untenable for the wrongdoers, those who seek high political office not to serve their fellow man, but to feed off of them. Let us make our leaders know that we are watching them, and that we will expose any corrupt act, any moral degeneracy, and race hate.

Yours faithfully,

Sultan S. Sattar