Frankly speaking, as my columnist friend Alan Fenty would say, I have mixed feelings about the English. There was definitely a time in my early years in Guyana when, to use an English expression, I did not take tea with them.
Two things you should know about me: one is that I’m Guyanese from head to toe. My father came here as a young child from Portugal, and my mother’s parents came from there, but Portugal is just another part of the world to me; there is no special connection; I have no desire whatsoever to go there.
Given the aggravations of daily life in Guyana, citizens are in need of some occasional light-heartedness to restore the human spirit, and this week, with the politics at full boil, one came for me via an email to his friends from Alex Neptune, who lives in New York with long roots reaching back here.
There can no longer be any serious debate about it: wherever we aim our gaze, the evidence is clearly before us now that Guyana must find a way to get off this fractured political path that has bedevilled us since independence.
With much of Guyana undeveloped, and not even fully explored, the conditions of daily living in some of the country, particularly the interior, have produced some very tough individuals, with both the physical and mental strength to overcome adversity.
Whales are not at home in shallow water. Their territory is the deep, 200 feet or more. The one that showed up this week off Mahaicony, in water 70 feet deep (shallow for a whale) ended up there from becoming entangled in a fisherman’s net.
It’s not nature’s topography; the complex pattern of waterways draining our coastland wasn’t always there. Guyanese built it. The Dutch and the British laid it out, but our ancestors did the back-breaking work that created this astonishing network of canals and trenches and four-foots and drains and dams and conservancies that makes it possible for us to live and work and play in an area generally 6 feet below sea level.
Followers of this column will know I’m always preaching that we should, whenever possible, present both sides of the coin when we’re discussing issues in the homeland; that as we take time to rightfully criticize the shortcomings, we should also be pointing to the good news happenings as they occur.
Six years ago, within weeks of my return to live in Guyana, I was in conversation with a very well-known Guyanese – someone I admired but had never met – and he suddenly said to me, “Dave, what are you doing coming back to live in this godforsaken country?” I pointed out to him that he was also still here, and we both laughed over the remark.