Mapping the future

– designing the Guyana Dream

We face two possible kinds of future. We could either stumble along into the default future, or design and create the future we want.

In our default future, tomorrow just happens. It happens as we stumble along into tomorrow, not planning and charting a deliberate path forward.

The designed future that’s possible, however, sees us map, chart and carve tomorrow out of the veil of time. We envision tomorrow, and know what it looks like. We see it ahead. We embrace a clear vision of what the future looks like. We then create it with a plan of action, and working that plan.

We may stumble into our default future with no real idea of what tomorrow holds. Or, we could create and design our desired future.

So it is possible to design the future, to create our tomorrow. First, we must believe that we posses this kind of power. It is possible to plan and mould the future into what we want it to be.

Once we wake up every day with that firm belief, that idea and sense of responsibility, knowing that I am responsible to design and create what my tomorrow is going to be, then I am inspired, motivated and energized to live today with zeal and passion.

This nation lives today stumbling into a default future, with no Guyana 21st century vision for our people.

We do not design a way to achieve a Guyana Dream. Maybe we do not even believe anymore that we harbour a Guyana Dream.

The American Dream, made famous and tangible in F Scott Fitzgerald’s golden novel, The Great Gatsby, drives the United States in its global ambition. Many of our own people migrate to North America because they believe in the ideal of the American Dream.

And America, from its founding days till now, charts its way forward with a clear vision, a firm idea, of what it wants its future to look like. America builds the kind of society it wants.

Most developed societies first design a model of what they want their communities to look like, and then empower the nation to work towards that visionary model.

Our nation once harboured a great dream. We once believed that we served the world as the breadbasket of the Caribbean. We once supplied the world with top grade bauxite, as a leading global bauxite producer.

The world once knew us as the friendliest folks in the British Commonwealth, with a garden city. We once ranked among the highest in our literacy rate, at 98 percent.

The Guyana Dream once lived, the flag flying high and promising.

After political independence, this nation planned, designed and mapped a future that we envisioned.

We built roadways spanning the length and breadth of the coastland; we spanned raging rivers with bridges; we built a university for our sons and daughters; we empowered villages across the land with electricity and schools and a public education, and health, system; we graduated from colonial worker habitation to planned communities and fertile farms and buzzing villages, alive with hope and hard work.

In village after village, farmers paddled boats loaded to the brim with cassava and plantain and fruits and vegetables, along clear canals, bringing fresh food from farms to our market centres.

This sense of the Guyana Dream made a young Chinese man, Cho Kee, abandon a Caribbean-bound China cargo ship that docked in Georgetown in 1937, and make this country his new home.

Cho Kee told his son the story one day, at his restaurant at Grove, East Bank Demerara. His son, Malcolm, was a boy attending Central High School. The old man told Malcolm to always love Guyana, because in this land, no one could ever starve to death.

“He told me his parents had put him on the boat in China because everywhere people were starving, in fact dying of starvation. He had seen many, many Chinese people die because they could not get food. Starvation was a massive problem in China. And his parents boarded him on the cargo boat because they hoped he would find a place where he could get food,” Malcolm said.

Cho Kee told his son he was entranced when he came on land here and found that if he ate a tomato and threw the seed away, that seed sprouted and grew into a plant growing many more tomatoes.

To him, it was a miracle. Cho Kee chose to stay here and made this country his home.

Today, the Cho-Kee clan makes a vibrant living in North America, with grands and great-grands world class professionals, as doctors, dentists, architects, business owners.

Cho Kee came off the boat and saw the Guyana Dream, and he designed a future where his children would never starve.

He charted a well-lived life, passing away in Canada recently at the age of 96. He came, he saw the kind of future he could build here, and he worked hard to achieve it. Today, his descendants benefit from his vision of the future.

It is a story of enduring beauty, of one man starting only with the belief that he could never starve here in this land, and building a brilliant future on that solid foundation.

As a nation, and as individual persons, we make our tomorrow. We design the future. We mould our destiny, to use that famous phrase L F S Burnham coined.

We count among us many individuals who designed their lives to rise from rags to riches, from barefoot village boy to global, world class professional, from poor and bedraggled to world statesman.

Cho Kee showed us how. He planted his yard in the warm sun, educated his children, embraced his place in the Guyanese society, built a small business whose edifice still stands today.

He dreamed of a future, and designed it. He taught us that each of us could also design our future to make the Guyanese nation a global 21st century success story.

Today, are we stumbling into a default future where failure deflates our self-image?

Are we building and designing a future of vision, of a clear mental model of tomorrow?

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