Chanderpaul is a national figure

Dear Editor,

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is an outstanding Guyanese and West Indian cricketer. His contributions to the game of cricket on the national and international level have been recognized and publicized both nationally and internationally.

In 2008, the International Cricket Council (ICC) named our very own Shivnarine Chanderpaul as its Cricketer of the Year, a significant achievement that will forever remain in the mind and heart of this brilliant batsman. He copped this award after scoring 819 Test runs at an average of 91.00 with three hundreds and six fifties within the voting period. And in the 13 One Day Internationals (ODIs) that he had played during the voting period, Chanderpaul had also scored 598 runs at an average of 74.75. He had scored a century and six fifties out of those 598 ODI runs.

Last year in recognition of his sterling contribution to sports in Guyana, President Bharrat Jagdeo presented Shiv with the third highest national award: the Cacique Crown of Honour.

Currently, Chanderpaul is the second highest West Indian run scorer in international cricket with a total of 8,669 runs. The only West Indian ahead of him is none other than Brian Charles Lara.

Guyanese and West Indians alike are very proud of his contributions to the game of cricket through the determination and extremely professional sportsmanship and discipline he displays on and off the field. Therefore I find it extremely sinister that the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) is deciding to recognize Chanderpaul’s achievements and his contributions to Guyanese of East Indian descent. I believe that the recipient of a National Award has demonstrated in no uncertain terms that he or she has earned a country’s appreciation for an outstanding contribution.

One has to ask why the IAC has decided to use this international sporting ambassador as easy bait to lure a section of the Guyanese society into further highlighting the racial divide that is already clearly drawn and runs through every conceivable section of our interracial and multicultural society.

Freddie Kissoon is right when he wrote in his KN article on April 30 calling for Shivnarine Chanderpaul to refuse this award. As a man who has built an outstanding international cricketing career on hard work and dedication, he should not tarnish that which he has worked so hard to achieve by stooping to the IAC and contributing to the deepening of the racial divide that has brought this country to its knees. When he scores runs, all Guyanese people rise to their feet and collectively uplift their voices to demonstrate their gratification and pleasure in his every play. Yes, as Guyanese, we acknowledge that this is one of our very own out there representing us.

Shiv is referred to by sports commentators, analysts and critics as a West Indian batsman of Guyanese origin. It is time we remove the weights that have been placed on our national identity by misguided leaders of the past and present. We are all descendants of immigrants to this land from a dark time in history. Together we fought hard for our independence. Let us celebrate independence and our arrival days in reflection on the history that brought us all together.

Further ethnocentric actions will only result in further division, marginalization and disharmony.

Yours faithfully,
Richard Francois

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