In this Election season, older persons are asked to remind the younger generation of what took place in the past. I am quite comfortable reminding young people of what took place but will have to give them the whole past.
As a person who lived through that past, eating cassava bread, sugar cake, experimenting with rice flour or ground rice, corn flour and cassava, and joining lines to purchase almost every item, I totally agree that we must not go back to those days. But as a people, we must recognise that a great lesson was learnt from those days, being our ability to now use and export our local foods, thus opening industries.
We need to remind ourselves that prior to the banning of foreign foods, bangamary and shark used to be thrown away by our fishermen. Today there is a wide variety of salt-fish and even the shark fins are sold. Five-finger and a host of other fruits were left to waste, but are now used as preserves for our traditional Christmas black cakes.
From an economic and nationalist point of view, the banning was of benefit to Guyanese, because industries were created which in turn created employment.
As for employment in the past, no one can deny that there were more persons working and opportunities were available bountifully for youths.
One only has to interact with anyone who had the opportunity to be an apprentice or trainee in any one of the major industries during that time and let them relate their experience. They are all multi-skilled and make a big difference in whichever industry in whichever country they now reside.
Indeed it can be said that the past under Dictator Burnham or BAN AM was tough, but more youths were gainfully occupied in a whole host of nation building activities.
So in reminding the youths of the bad past under the Champion of a Leader LFS Burnham, we must also be able to highlight his good Nationalist traits. He was very conscious that no country with great agriculture potential like ours can develop by importing the same things we can produce for ourselves.