We need to know more about each other
Stabroek News
March 2, 2002

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Dear Editor,

I have been moving up and down Guyana and everybody I meet laments to me about the lack of racial unity. People would like to see all the six races which inhabit this country think and act like one big happy family.

Ever since I was politically conscious this has also been my ambition. I feel that an end to petty racial strife could generate prosperity.

But in my researches I found some serious gaps in Guyanese thinking. I find that black people do not have the remotest conception of Amerindian history or culture and the same applies to the Amerindian in respect of black history. And higher up the line East Indians have never heard about black history or black culture to any degree, and black people would never admit to knowing anything about East Indian or Chinese history or religion. A black man or woman might have heard about the TajMahal but he would not go into detail or think it worth his while to sit down and read a book about why East Indians were formerly known as Gentoos or what is the difference between the Buddha and Babajee Maraj. And East Indians of course, would not care to know anything about the Empire of Gundo, the Kingdom of Timbuctoo, or King Daisy of Karta.

The only history which the various races in Guyana seem to admire is European history. The only culture which they want to embrace is European culture.

My contention is that if a people of diverse ethnic background want to be united as a single group or, at least to live together in amity as a group, the first essential is for them to respect and finally to love or to admire one another. Lack of knowledge leads to fear and fear leads to disrespect and disrespect gives birth to disunity.

Even a woman cannot love a man until she gets to know him. Women have often told me this. I would not advocate that black people discontinue the study of European history but they should not throw all their weight on it. There is far more advantage in them studying Indian and Chinese history. And the East Indians ought to know that unity is impossible in Guyana except they spare some time to study Black history.

Of course, it must be true to say that scholastic intelligence and religious teachings have not promoted these concepts with the vigour and dedication which they should. And our legislators have been grossly remiss in their duties in this respect. They scream for unity yet they use all the instruments in their power to promote disunity.

Love is vital to political understanding and unity in this great society can only be possible if the people respect one another and they cannot respect one another unless they familiarise themselves with the histories of one another.

Yours faithfully,

Prince Michael