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During a few outbursts in the Guyana Parliament, the glory of Queen’s College was unceremoniously invoked. Subsequently to the exchange that saw one school denigrated, a few anti-QC social media apparatchiks could not miss the opportunity to take their pound of flesh. As a result, several posts appeared on Meta that echoed the hackneyed myth about QC people being elitist, forged in snobbery. As well as that, another flawed thesis was proffered.
The razzle and dazzle commentators argued that since Guyana has been ruled since independence by several Presidents who attended Queen’s College, this school must be responsible for Guyana’s morass. The daring proposition was ‘like’ and ‘shared’ by many. This hypothesis cannot withstand a cursory glance of scrutiny. Nevertheless, it has created a need for this intervention. I shall argue that Guyana’s problems cannot be placed at the feet of the graduates of a specific school. Our problems are due to tribalism. Thus, no amount of influence of a school can surmount that primal instinct that continues to haunt this land.
BURNHAM, JAGAN AND RODNEY
First, if you argue that those who attended the great halls of the black and gold are forever imbued with elitism, you would have to give an account for the work of Rodney, Burnham and Jagan. The aforementioned gentlemen shall forever remain champions of the poor and downtrodden and have permanently etched their faces in the pantheon of advocates for the working class. Certainly, elitism has to be made of much more stern stuff.
In October 1968, riots broke in Jamaica. At that time, Dr. Walter Rodney was teaching at the University of the West Indies. The Queen’s College boy did not thumb his nose at the downtrodden, fighting for their rights. At the risk of being fired and expelled from Jamaica, he joined the class struggle on the side of the poor and powerless. Today, Rodney is deified by the Rastafarians. It is difficult to argue against this endorsement. By virtue of his actions, influenced by his schooling, Rodney has made an everlasting contribution to social justice.
In 1957, the youthful Attorney, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham founded the People’s National Congress at the law offices of Cameron and Shepherd with its battle cry that hailed factory and field workers. As well as that, by a Notice of Motion on March 20th, 1969 in the National Assembly, Prime Minister L.F.S Burnham started the process to change from the monarchical system to a Republic. In 1970, the Prime Minister inserted the word ‘co-operative’ in the name of the country. He committed to making the small man, a real man.
In 1948, the PAC was formed as a political discussion group. On January 1, 1950, the PAC metamorphosed into the PPP. The former QC boy, Jagan became the head of the first mass-based political party that sought to rearrange Guyana’s economic and social circumstances, in an effort to smash elitism. Therefore, any argument which advances that students of Queen’s College are automatically and permanently imbued with a heavy dose of elitism would have to explain the public record of the aforementioned leaders. Among the champions of the poor in developing countries, the aforesaid historical figures have impeccable credentials.
IT’S TRIBALISM, NOT QUEEN’S COLLEGE
In their circuitous proceedings, the anti-QC advocates erroneously tie Guyana’s problems, past and present, to the institution that boasts: FidelesUbiqueUtiles. This short-sighted desperation can be easily debunked by an amateur pen. The poorly concocted theory proceeds from the assumption that the problems of a tribal society are due, exclusively, to its leadership. Even though leadership or lack thereof cannot be dismissed as being part of the equation, it is folly to place the myriad of national headaches squarely at the feet of those leaders.
As well as that, it is far-fetched to prove a direct correlation between what occurred at one stage of a leader’s education journey to their decision-making at the helm. Now, failed societies have never lacked finger-pointing and blame but to throw it all on those leaders’ experiences at one stage of their education journey, is untenable. Besides this, if indeed they are responsible for our sordid conditions, what about those who did not attend QC? When a people decide to vote based on tribal obligations and decide that they shall only be led by their kith and kin, what does that have to do with the school that the leader attended?