I would like to thank Dr McGowan for revisiting the issue of slavery and indentureship (SN, May 28) and Mrs Anna Benjamin for her brilliant editorial in the Sunday Stabroek (‘Hijacking history,’ May 31).
Now that the record/history has been set straight, let us as a people get on with building a nation and work to put an end to this divisive race-based politics which stifles us from realising our forefathers’ dreams of making their slavery and indenturship count for something in our lives.
We lost a golden opportunity post-1953 to develop independent Guyana as a nation of united people. Let us not lose another. The founding fathers of our modern political history, when they started out, no doubt hoped that our nationalistic sentiments and aspirations, our shared sense of historical injustices and our shared poverty would have overwhelmed our ethnic, political and religious differences. That is, our common interest would surmount our marked differences. But this did not happen and we lived through a period in which differences were all that mattered in the long tale of our post-1938 history.
We are differently placed today and can work in our common interest. It should no longer be about who suffered more or who deserved more. It should be about what is best in all of our interests. We are all Guyanese. We chose to stay and make this our home. Our relatives in the West will tell us they are no less an American because they were not the offspring of the Native Americans, the Pilgrim Fathers, the Europeans or the enslaved Africans who toiled so hard in the land known as the USA today. Barrack Obama is testimony to what is possible if race is not the burning issue in the politics of one’s country.
Let the minds of Guyanese be open to a politics of change. A system of politics in which we vote on the basis of issues and not race. We debate on the basis of issue and not race. The colour of our skins should never determine our destinies or our fortunes. Our political system has failed us. We should put our energies into fixing that. I am no expert on political systems, but maybe we ought to revert to the first past the post system of voting so that candidates from the ground can be fielded to make a difference.
The system of proportional representation, as predicted, has solidified the pattern of racial voting post-1964 and entrenches race-based politics. Let us all resolve to work to change this. Our politics is destroying us. Wake up, Guyana!