The real world?
Stabroek News
November 12, 2002

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Reading ‘Guysuco’, now `Guysuco News’, the bimonthly in-house publication of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) is somehow enormously soothing in these times of great stress and strain when it is so easy to forget that there is still a real world out there in which people are trying to live relatively normal lives.

The June-July and August-September issues deal with topics like producing the first batch of organic sugar at Uitvlugt which could be the start of something significant, the massive Skeldon modernisation project where interested bidders for the supply of equipment and construction of the new factory spent three days in August with senior executives of Guysuco and where infrastructural work is ongoing to prepare more lands for cane cultivation to supply the increased factory capacity, the photographs of the champion workers on the Honours Roll including Fertiliser Mixing Hand Fitzpatrick Burgess of Skeldon (“we must make our work easy by finding pleasure in what we do” he advised), J. Ganga Persaud, formerly a cane harvester now in the labour transport section, Anthony Leitch, Second Runner Up Champion Worker of Albion who said “If it wasn’t for my mistress getting up early and preparing good meals for me to get to work, I never would have made it” and added “I like to work in this industry, I see it as a way of getting out of poverty and I have dedicated myself to working very hard to develop myself and family. I would encourage young people to get involved in estate work and help to build this country”, Khemraj Diaram, a former apprentice of the Guysuco Training Centre and now a fitter machinist who works in the diesel workshop at Ogle where he repaired about 30-35 pumps in 2001 (“After repairing they gave 90 per cent performance. This was good” he said), and a row of pretty young ushers waiting to escort the champion workers to receive their awards at the Honours Roll Function.

Whatever qualms one may have about the future of the sugar industry given the threats to the preferential price now obtained from the European Community it is enormously reassuring to read about an institution that is still functioning purposefully and with an emphasis on training and productivity in the Agriculture Improvement Plan which aims to increase yields to levels achieved in the 1960’s and make the product more competitive.

In similar vein, attending the annual presentation awards dinner of the Guyana Manufacturers Association last Friday and seeing what Mr Ken Gordon described as the business heroes of the Caribbean, who have survived truly fearful odds, receiving their awards for achievements ranging from exports to product innovation was poignant. Something useful is happening amidst all the pain and disruption of nation building. There is a creativity and an energy still there, one felt like either weeping or shouting hurrah as these largely unsung and unheralded patriots stepped forward, often with considerable modesty (none of the panache one would find at a similar event in Trinidad or Jamaica - Guyana really has lost far more of its traditional capitalist class than these countries and is in a real sense a classless society in which businessmen are still largely, despite the political rhetoric, an endangered species).

If only, one felt, if only, one hoped, the country does not implode or expire in its birth pangs. If only it can transcend the difficult problems of ethnicity and cultural differences. If only those who happen to be at the helm in politics could drink of the spirit of Mandela, overcome their self-righteousness, forgive past wrongs and think imaginatively and constructively of what is still here and the enormous and exciting tasks that could lie ahead, we could have a future. We may never completely overcome our differences, nor should we, but in expending our energies productively in developing the country we could start to overcome poverty and unemployment and rectify so much that is now out of sync.

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