There can be no plausible, no decent excuse that I can think of for the failure to host the Guyana Prize for Literature, the ceremony for which was to have been held at least a month ago as advertised earlier this year. That we are entering the second half of 2011, and there has not been so much as a shortlist announced for either the regular Guyana Prize for Literature nor the much touted Caribbean Prize is telling. The last prizes given for what used to be a biennial award was for 2006, awarded in 2007.
I believe that it is time the Government of Guyana, the University of Guyana in particular, hands over the mechanism for the management of the Prize to an autonomous and competent body tasked with private sector fundraising, with the government being engaged at most a funds-matching partnership and facilitation partnership with that entity. The way the Guyana Prize for Literature is being handled, particularly with regard to the lack of public accountability, is arrogant and as absurd as it is philistine. The time is long gone for the sort of reactionary defence of the regime whenever the Prize is mentioned, followed up by absolutely little or no movement in correcting the cause for the criticism – I first raised the issue of the Guyana Prize going missing over a year ago, and despite assurances from the Secretary of the Prize that this was not so, there still has not been a Prize held. If they have any decency left, the Prize Committee – if it exists in any real sense – needs to publicly resign immediately instead of perpetuating this ridiculous farce of enabling the erosion of what had become, as imperfect as it was, a national cultural institution.