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Today Guyana celebrates 55 years as an independent nation. By human standard this would be the age when persons have settled into life or for some branching out into new endeavours. The road to Guyana’s independence has not been paved with gold. It has been rugged, hard, and at times fraught with ethnic conflicts and divisions.
It has not been easy for a country with a racist historic past, mistrust and hatred for the other to emerge as One Nation of One People with One Destiny. The motto of Guyana- One People One Nation One Destiny- on the surface may appear unattainable but serious reflection acknowledges the desire of present inhabitants to peacefully coexist. Guyana does not have a situation like the Palestine/Israeli conflict.
Whilst some of our forebears came against their will, we all came. It is a fact that should not be denied or ignored. Guyana is our home and this acknowledgment must see studied efforts to mould a nation where all could truthfully feel at home. This year’s independence, as some seek to celebrate for others it is bittersweet because Guyana is still to get her act together in forging One People One Nation One Destiny. Hardly if any has a day gone by without some being made to feel they are intruders and unwanted in their own home. This place (home) is called Guyana.
It would be difficult to forge a nation if not impossible with some being ascribed the outsiders’ status. The institutions of Guyana are not working for all Guyanese. This does not mean they are as designed wrong or to favour one over the other, though some seek to so claim or are made to so feel. Guyana’s Founding Fathers and Mothers would today weep if their eyes were to behold how their aspirations are being disregarded. Their sweat, strategising and journeys in Guyana, to England and around the world, were to create a nation for all Guyanese. They wanted us to live as one.
The Founding Fathers and Mothers did not fight for us to disregard and/or disrespect the other because we may look different or come from different strains. They knew this. But they also know our differences are strengths, we have a shared history, and we could forge a common future. They wanted better for us. When we fail to live up to their expectations a mockery is being made of their sacrifices. Those who once oppressed us see the present conflicts and divisions as vindication independence in our hands would be worthless and we are better off being suppressed, led and dictated to.
The 55 anniversary finds Guyana a torn nation and Guyanese more divided than ever in post-independent history. This is such an irony when Guyana is on the path to economic greatness. Should Guyanese mark this anniversary without acknowledging the unhealthy state of affairs, the opportunities to be gained and those squandered, it would do Guyana no good. Failure to do honest and serious introspection would deprive Guyanese building a nation on common ground and common interests. It would deprive us our humanity.
Guyana, as a nation, could only be built treating fellow Guyanese as equals, deserving of dignity and respect. It matters not one’s race, class or creed. Guyana belongs to all by history and birthright. This we all must claim and reach for. If we do not, Guyana and the rich resources within her bosom will be taken away from us by others, who are operating here not to seek our collective interest but their own.