We should seek to reclaim our dignity

Dear Editor,

My absence from home is made more bearable by the plethora of Guyana-focused online publications.  For the most part, I revel in the forthright and robust exchange of views, dreaming of a return to the land of Cheddi, Forbes, Peter and Walter.

But what I first regarded with mild surprise has, over the past decade, morphed through embarrassed bemusement into frustrated indignation. I refer to the consistent use of various versions of  ‘the issuance of US/ Canadian visa’ or ‘the recent State Department report’ as authoritative litmus tests of governance or criminality, or a miscellaneous indicator of moral Uprightness. Why are we looking backwards seemingly at will, even by state officials.

Each is entitled to use benchmarks most relevant to his/her principles and context.  However, I wonder what this reflex says about us, as a people. Whatever one thinks of the USA, that this national self flagellation goes unchallenged speaks to a dreadful malaise of our self belief as a people. Editor, I am hard pressed to recall such a stampede to surrender emotional sovereignty; this abandonment of national pride, our values.

Observing this growing malaise from my relative comfort, I have long felt unable – the confused guilt of the self exiled – to raise my voice.  I was a late learner – until my first term of university, it never occurred to me that there were cleverer, more able people outside my country.  And surely as we celebrate Arrival and Emancipation anniversaries, mustn’t we at least seek to reclaim the crowning glory of nationhood, the self; that dignity that allows us to be?

Amandla awethu!
Yours faithfully,
Kojo Parris
Honorary Consul of Guyana to South Africa

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