Experts can be found in the Guyanese diaspora
Stabroek News
May 14, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Some time ago, I read the following caption, and the report following it, in one of our leading newspapers, "Expert submits options to local government task-force". I was wryly amused at seeing this caption. I must be candid about my views on the use of the term "expert". This term is pregnant with distressing colonial symbolisms. During my teenage years in Guyana, the term "expert" connoted, and still does, a white, anglo-saxon, protestant, middle class, professional male, who was expected to be polymathic, but quite obviously knew nothing about the indigenous realities of many of the post colonial states that quested for this colonial hangover.

The use of the foreign "expert" has become a growth industry in many developing countries. The main reason for this is, I suppose, apart from the fact that this anachronism may be linked to the aid programme, that through decades of mental conditioning, many of us have been persuaded not to have confidence in ourselves, and by extension, in our professionals. "Our own is never as capable as the armani- suited, white professional." As Guyanese, in our shared colonial and post colonial experience, we have lived through this, and we don`t want it anymore. It is preposterous, to say the least, that we continue to ignore the talent pool in the Guyanese diaspora. I have never heard of some of our most distinguished sons and daughters, being referred to as "experts".

The Australian, Dr. Benjamin Riley, was recently consulted by the Guyana Government as an "expert" in local government, when here in the U.K, there is a Guyanese who is considered as the doyen of local government politics. This Guyanese is the first black man to become Mayor of the London Borough of Merton.

He later became the deputy chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, and was honoured by the British government for distinguished services to local government politics. Joseph Abrams, has almost four decades of experience in local government politics, and with his background in law and education, coupled with his great negotiating skills, he could have been tasked with restructuring the local government regime in Guyana, yet he was never approached.

Another Guyanese is Lord Herman Ouseley, the former Chairman of the C.R.E. In Guyana we have established a body whose remit is race relations, yet the assistance of Lord Ouseley has not been sought. Guyana`s problems are best dealt with, by people who have historic links to the country. This is not an appeal to crude nationalism, it is an appeal to pragmatism. It is moreso relevant to all Guyanese, as we have never had the good fortune, of having philoprogenitive governments.

Yours faithfully,

Joseph B. Collins