It's about time
My column –by Adam Harris
Kaieteur News
April 1, 2007

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The national awards are back and it is about time. For some four years no Guyanese was recognized for anything that he or she did simply because there was no committee in place.

This was surprising because the people who examined the various recommendations were all volunteers and from experience no Guyanese ever refused to work for the recognition of others. Of course, if one stayed on a commission for too long one could either become too old or could simply die.

We know that the awards began in 1970 when Guyana became a Republic. I know that the members changed after 1992 when the new administration came into office. I also know that the people who served on that commission would have aged by almost 15 years today.

But four years ago they would have been very active. I want to suspect that the awards were put on hold in the wake of the 2002 Camp Street jailbreak and further suspended during the harsh year, 2003, when gunmen ruled the roost.

This country has one thing going for it. Whenever something is ignored, if even for a brief while, it often disappears. When television came to this country in 1982, people realized that they could see movies from within the confines of their homes. Someone might have said that he would skip the cinema for a week and return the following week.

History has shown us that the cinema industry has all but died simply because people opted to resort to television.

The national awards almost went the same way. There is now one fear. Will they be cheapened since people went without them for so long?

The list this year, once the nominations come in, should be impressive. There was the construction of the National Stadium at Providence that allowed this country to host aspects of Cricket World Cup 2007 and position ourselves to host the Champions Trophy in three years' time.

While the Indians could get honorary awards, the Guyanese who ensured that the pitch and outfield reached the standards they did should be recognized. I know that there are those who would say that a foreign company supervised the work but this was simply because of the demands of the International Cricket Council.

I am hard pressed to find anything really spectacular that anyone did over the past four years except if I look in the construction industry. These past few months we saw numerous hotels going up and in so doing, paved the way for Guyana to host conferences and conventions.

It is difficult to imagine that we could not host a simple Lions Convention once more than 200 people were coming. That number would be child's play to accommodate in just about any other country, but not Guyana . So it is likely that the nation may wish to honour those who constructed the hotels in the same way the nation recognized those who, through their initiative, introduced television to Guyana .

In the field of sports we do not have too much to shout about except the fact that we have Nicolette Fernandes who has broken into the world rankings in the field of squash, and those boxers who won world titles.

We have some people who are continuing to help those afflicted by HIV and AIDS. These are the people who set up non-governmental organisations, some of which set the stage for the others that emerged.

Some teachers, working with great odds, produced students that could hold their own in any part of the world. But then again, it has not been a culture to recognize the efforts of those teachers.

However, we have been quick to recognize politicians for whatever reason. Politicians are people who, for the greater part, spout rhetoric. Rarely do they do something spectacular unless they operate on the international stage.

I would expect the list to be relatively small if the awards are to be of any significance. We could trivialize the awards by handing them out to just about any Tom, Dick and Harry, but awards are not to be trivialized.

Over the past three or four years, too, there were some enterprising Guyanese who brought the music industry to Guyana . In the past, musicians had to travel to either Barbados or Jamaica . They could use the facilities at the radio station to record their voice then send it to be mixed with the music.

Today people invested, and there are at least two big recording studios that actually attract people from those countries to which we had to send our music at great cost. It might be well to recognize them.

I am looking forward to the announcements in May. I do not expect to be surprised especially since many people who were capable of doing great things for this country, opted to leave for greener pastures.

Yet, I am happy that the institution of national awards is returning. A nation needs to have something to say think you to those who remain to help and this poor country should be no exception.