In the time since this nation achieved political independence from Britain – over the past 50 years – several nations saw their people lifted out of gross poverty.
Brazil, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and a host of Caribbean nations, including Trinidad and Tobago, have all achieved a level of socio-economic development that has brought worldwide dignity to their citizens.
What’s wrong with our nation?
We have never had a coup or a revolution, unlike our neighbours Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname.
So what’s wrong?
This question echoes across this land, and even among communities of migrated Guyanese in the diaspora. It’s amazing to see the frustration with which folks ask the rhetorical question: what’s wrong with us?
In the 1970’s, this country was among the best in the Caribbean, and certainly looked prepared for a greater future than Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia or Grenada or any of the tiny Eastern Caribbean nations, where so many Guyanese chose to migrate to and now live.
We once touted ourselves as the breadbasket of the Caribbean. We once saw ourselves as the eco-tourism mecca of the Caribbean.
We once saw ourselves supplying the world with abundant rice, sugar, gold, timber, diamonds, and even uranium.
We once aimed to build a multinational hydro-power grid in the region.
As the land of many waters, our fishery potential comes second to none in the region.
Fresh fruit, vegetable and even sand for the global computer industry come easy to us.
What’s wrong with us?
Why do our citizens walk around their Parliament in Georgetown to see and smell half a dozen destitute, naked, mad, dirty vagrants sleeping in filth on the sidewalk?
Why does government stubbornly refuse to address this?
What’s wrong with us that garbage piles up all over the city, with central government having to step in to clean up the smelly mess?
What’s wrong with this nation?
We live next door to Brazil, an emerging global power with one of the world’s most powerful economies.
And next to Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago with their oil. Both nations help us out.
Driving across this land we see acres and acres of green fields all along the coasts.
So what’s wrong?
For more than 50 years, the governing managers of this country came from two main political parties. The machinery that churned out national leaders to govern us came from the highly polarized racial voting environment fuelled by these two political entities.
Independent observers have expressed some satisfaction with reforms within the Opposition, seeing democratic internal leadership.
But within the ruling party, the selection of a leader who could govern this nation after national elections, remains mired in mystery, undemocratic practices and secret deals.
On the street, people perceive some leaders as power-hungry, wanting the power of holding the reins of government without being committed to the task of building this nation.
A talk with residents of Bush Lot and Canje, Berbice show people’s frustration and lack of confidence in the national leaders.
Yet, does the root of what’s wrong with us lie only with our government leaders?
How responsible are we as citizens of this land for the state this nation is in?
Many of us opt out of the hard work it takes to build the nation. We simply pack our bags and find a way to fly out of this land, coming back for a visit now and again to spend foreign money and revel as tourists.
A few worthy individuals have stayed and continue to fight the battle. These few keep alive the light of hope for this nation.
The land has descended so far down into the sickening depths of social decay that it must be a hard daily battle for the decent men and women who still fight to right the sinking ship of this nation.
But their presence shows that maybe we’ve got what it takes to pull ourselves out of our social quagmire.
After the recent riots that rocked London, England, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said his government would embark on a cultural revolution to clean up the deteriorating moral situation facing his country.
Britain has what it takes to clean up its act and reform its communities and repair the damage that decadent culture has unleashed on the society.
Have we got what it takes?
Apart from looking for leaders who could be our David Cameron, could we as the Guyanese nation reform our society and repair the damage and refine our socio-cultural existence?
Do we, as a people and a nation, have what it takes?
US TV personality Bill Boggs interviewed 44 of some of the world’s most successful people, and wrote a book called ‘Got What It Takes?’ as he probed the secrets to success.
Although the book aims at individuals, it applies well to our nation.
Do we have what it takes?
Brazil, South Korea, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago have shown that they have what it takes to leap ahead in their societies.
How about us?
Boggs details a series of qualities necessary for success. He calls these the “mind-sets of success”. As a nation we have to determine our attitude to life: do we have the “mind-sets” to achieve success as a nation?
After more than 50 years since political independence, with a polarized political leadership, do we have it in us to rank with Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore and The Bahamas in the new 21st century global village?
Successful people live with certain mindsets, Boggs found. “A sense of purpose helps fuel their drive”, he writes.
Is our national mindset focused on this purpose, of being a successful people?