We need to look to the future while remembering the past

Dear Editor,
Thanks for a well written editorial that put slavery and indentureship into proper perspective and made readers better understand the two systems (‘Hijacking history’ Sunday Stabroek, May 31). However, I should note that the recent commentaries or discussions on the two systems were not attempts to rewrite or re-interpret history.  And there was no evidence that the contributors were motivated by political parties or agents to justify political goals. I do not think any of the contributors were acting on behalf of parties. I hope no one seriously believes that slavery and indentureship were the same.  And Dr McGowan and your excellent editorial brought out some of the differences between the two oppressive systems of labour.

While learning about the past, we should not get stuck in it. We need to look to the future while remembering the past. I do not think we should remain stuck in the injustices of slavery and indenturedship. As Brother Eusi Kwayana rightly said, and which you made reference to, we should not focus on who suffered more. I think we should use our energies constructively for positive development. We should strive to achieve the idealism of the independence movement of the founding fathers and mothers, the goals of the struggle against colonialism and respect for one another. We should strive to fight against injustices and for the creation of a modern nation based on egalitarianism and harmony.

Unfortunately, too many Guyanese are obsessed with ‘race’ and seem unable to get beyond that warp. We should not define our existence only in terms of a narrow primordial identity. We should not let race or colour differences keep us apart or prevent us from working together to build a modern Guyana where all will have an equal place. There is no time to spend on a luxury like arguing who suffered more.  That will not help the races. Everyone suffered under colonialism and in the immediate post-colonial period. Many are still suffering today and in a sense we are still suffering fighting each other needlessly.  We need to work together to truly build a nation that all will enjoy. We also need to foster and maintain a sense of understanding of the culture and history of one another because it appears that some people no longer value each other’s presence.

We have a beautiful country and we need to build it together.  Hopefully, the exchanges on slavery and indentureship and your informative editorial will help the different groups to better understand their historical presence and the two systems and appreciate each other.
Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Bisram

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