It is a widely held belief that the main pre-requisite to nation-building is a sound knowledge of your country’s past, especially in a multi-racial setting. I am a pensioner who has always had a penchant for reading, and because of that I more often than not engage young people of various backgrounds, banteringly sometimes, on historical, but significant events of the Guianas, mainly British Guiana both before and after Emancipation. I am often flabbergasted both by their negative responses to questions, and their awakened curiosity for knowledge of same. Where does the fault lie?
(1) In my humble opinion the blame lies squarely on the education system that is obviously failing its students in a crucial area of their scholastic career. The average Guyanese is clueless about the 1823 Slave Rebellion, and moreso the products of our schools. Mr Eric Philips, in a letter published in KN on November 27, 2012 captioned ‘We need a concise text of key events in Guyana history‘ wrote that the solution to our ethnic dilemma lay in the school system. His intention was to initiate a discourse which he believed was vital to our existence as a nation.
The four points were:
(1) What become of the batch of Indians who were brought to these shores, before the system of indentureship was institutionalised?
(2) Despite the freed slaves’ ability to save money and purchase plantations or villages, why was their business acumen stifled and denied, their attempted entrepreneurial ambition thwarted, credit contemptuously rejected, while the Portuguese and to a lesser extent the Chinese were favourably accommodated.
(3) Has the economic condition of our indigenous population improved comparatively speaking under past and present administrations?
Last but certainly not least was the 1763 Slave Rebellion as critical to the Emancipation progress as that of 1823? These are issues that should be debated in the school system, since the impact on their consciousness in a positive way is incalculable.
Undoubtedly the Parade Ground will be the chosen site.
Lloyd W Davidson