The National Assembly on Thursday adopted a motion paying tribute to freedom fighter and human rights activist, the late former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela.
“There are many similarities in the life of Mandela to our own journey from colony to nationhood, many similarities but not identical in challenges and tasks. The life story of Nelson Mandela and South Africa provides both an example and a challenge to us in Guyana, to overcome the problems of our own history and the seeming impasse in which we find ourselves,” said Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who tabled the motion.
Mandela died on December 5 in South Africa.
The Prime Minister reflected on Mandela’s life and the indelible contributions he made to people globally. “Mandela earned the world’s tribute in the way he met and the way he created many of the extraordinary circumstances of which he spoke. Mandela’s life, the events and his achievements has significance for people across much (of) the whole world,” Hinds asserted.
He reflected on his childhood when he first learnt of Mandela who was suffering under apartheid.
A Partnership for National Unity’s member of Parliament Basil Williams also gave a historical overview of Mandela’s life and likened some of his struggles to those experienced by his party. “He was the target of constant oppression by that government …he was always under the watchful eye of the state,” he said.
He recalled Guyana’s late President Forbes Burnham’s support of Mandela’s fight and made reference to the banning of cricketers from playing in South Africa at the time. Guyana’s monetary donations to the African liberation struggle were also highlighted.
In his presentation, Alliance for Change parliamentarian Moses Nagamootoo used Mandela’s work to point out how it can be an inspiration given Guyana’s political history. He said that all Guyanese should fight against oppression and racism. “Oppression peculiarly doesn’t carry an ethnic face…we must ask ourselves how multi-racial are we, how multi-racial we want our country to be,” he said.
To his fellow parliamentarians, he urged that they use Mandela’s work to make changes for the people they serve. “If we want to talk about Nelson Mandela we have to be able to ask ourselves whether we are capable of doing Mandela….of building a multiracial government, a multiracial society that is based on all.
Not fighting racism and tribalism and apartheid but to be able to go after the root causes of all these problems… the inequity the inequality of wealth …those (are) notions, those are values that we have to deal with in talking about Mandela,” Nagamootoo stressed.
“Unless we take grip of those values, a recitation of history won’t help us here….who knows more about what happened in the past that is not going to be helpful; those who know, knows where we ought to go, what we ought to be,” he added.