Our diaspora, our deportees

—requesting 10 election projects

Again the brightest of observations and notes on the subject of Guyanese migration and its consequent diaspora – or dispersal, which now sees very much more “born-Guyanese” living permanently away from their homeland.

Why? Because, as one who has decided to live (and die) in the land of my birth, I’ll always be intrigued by the movement of people from one place on this earth to another. And because every time I’m in the USA (especially) my mind, my soul thrills – then despairs – to the presence of my people in another land. They seem so satisfied – whether it’s genuine or faked.

Please realize that I appreciate that the populations of all parts of our whole world had their origins in immigration and emigration. Early man moved because of weather and comfort, space and environment. They explored for food, shelter, work – then later to conquer, occupy, settle. In a sense, all the world – except Africa – is now peopled by the descendants of migrants.

We fast forward to these days to experience the post-World Wars phenomenon whereby citizens of under –developed countries flock to the developed metropoles, by legal means or foul, because the prior economic organization of the planet rendered their homelands hostile to their quality of life and reasonable expectations.

So there I was in New York, New York two weeks ago, mingling and mixing with my countrymen and women at “socials”, July 4th barbeques and a Christ Church Secondary School Fund-raising Reunion.  My gladness for them, my pride at their achievements made ambivalent by my regret that they have elected to abandon life in Guyana – what life? And where would we house even 10,000 of them if, of the hundreds of thousands,  those 10,000 opt to return to the green land for good?

David’s department of the Diaspora?

Which brings me then, to how we can harness and utilize the skills and resources of Guyana’s overseas citizens. Separate and besides the significant remittances which keep many home-based relatives in survival mode.

Well, I first became familiar with the term “diaspora” (dispersal) when reading of the exploits of young Israeli Golda Meir who travelled to wherever Jews were forced to settle to mobilize their resources to arm then build Israel. I bet Israel has a vibrant agency which keeps in touch with Israeli Jews around the globe. India, Jamaica, Japan and countries in Africa must also surely do. In a more structured, formal manner Guyana must also actively connect with its citizens and their descendants world-wide.

As I sat with Brooklyn’s and New Jersey’s Afro-Guyanese, there was no doubt that the PNC’s David Granger was the candidate of choice. The few Indo-Guyanese I encountered on July Fourth did not indicate any electoral preference.

I suspect that if Mr. Granger and his GDF/Police Officer Corps- type campaign prevail on Polling Day, a Department of the Diaspora and Remigration will be established, perhaps, within the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The love, resources, energies and loyalty of expatriate Guyana can then be mobilized.

I’m not voting but that will attract my support. (After all, just look at the local candidates rushing to the Diaspora. Hey tell me: cannot overseas Guyanese return to vote, if they were registered here recently? Discuss!)

Our deported Guyanese…

There are those from the Guyanese Diaspora who found themselves forcibly/legally  returned to Guyana, after found guilty of breaching some law in other jurisdictions. Some folks here described them discreetly as involuntary returnees, since they had no choice, sometimes even after some representation, when ordered back to “home” country.

Just this week I read of a programme Jamaica has to integrate its deportees into its society.  Even as the stigma attached is challenged, criminal deportees stain all returnees.  That’s wrong as even criminals can be rehabilitated.  The strategy is to ask the sending country to contribute to re-integration programmes.  Those deportees probably once contributed to the welfare of their adopted countries.

I’m glad to read of local efforts these days.

A Juncata Juvant Friendly Society organizes sessions to counsel, organize and place returnees in appropriate situations once back in their homeland.  The Guyana Office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) now facilitates some deportees’ initiatives or desire for self-employment whilst it also attempts to influence positively both government and civil society employers.

I understand that Jamaica and Guyana differ a bit, in terms of negotiating acceptance of American assistance towards deportee resettlement.  I have to find out more about the Guyana position and programme.  As is applicable to the overseas Diaspora, the good deportees have much to offer their country quite short of Guyanese.  They too, are Guyanese.

What “election projects”

Isn’t perception so strong that it displaces reality?  People perceive then believe. Whatever the facts or the truth?

They see certain government-funded projects being executed with renewed vigour, sometimes haste.  Budgeted capital works on roads, bridges, buildings, school uniforms, solar energy, et al are being done.  And the people cry “election campaign project!”  How much are they accurate about?

I decided to find ten local/national projects I’d like to see implemented and/or completed before Polling Day.  They will read like this: 1) Replacing the Georgetown City Council with a municipal management comprised of wealthy businessmen, town planners, drainage engineers and shrewd investors.  2) Getting a German firm and Brazilian expertise to provide us with life-long uninterrupted electric power.  3) Establishment  of five agro-businesses to include bottled milk and canned fruits.  4) Encouraging scores of more peasant sugar farmers.  5) Hamley Case’s railway from Linden to Rupununi.  6) Two new roads/highways out of Georgetown. 7) New urban cemeteries 8) Two real crematoria 9) Twenty-six seater coaches for decent public road transportation and safe boats for the rivers.  10) The re-establishment of a National Youth Service along with four rural Street People Renewal Centres.

What are your ten (10) pre-election wishes?  What? A Change of government!?

Ponder…

1) Is the Brigadier right?  The PPP’s traditional ethnic arithmetic won’t help them this time?

2) Congratulations are in order for those confident business persons/investors responsible for massive constructions around Georgetown. Identify ten streets and “corners” and who’s building

3) Coming soon: lessons from 1823

’Til next week!

(Comments? allanafenty@yahoo.com)

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