I read with interest and some amusement the exchanges over the South African award to deceased president LFS Burnham. Then, I reflect on all past presidents, alive or dead, and a rush of questions comes. It chokes.
Now I put some of these same questions before the public, particularly those involved in support of (or against) the Oliver Tambo award. I insist that this be seen as encompassing all Guyanese presidents, and not Mr Burnham alone.
When have our presidents been steadfastly for the law, taken a stand for all the majesty that it represents, come what may? Which of our presidents have been separate and apart from the corruptions of the day and their times?
Which one amongst them has been for this nation as a whole, and not the chief marshal of narrow racial parochialism? I ask again: which one of them? Who in this so-called pantheon of the indescribable, perhaps unmentionable, has been above a low meanness of spirit, a tawdry vindictiveness?
Will somebody tell me who has honoured the institution of the presidency? The trust of this nation? And the truth and ethics customarily associated with sublime leadership?
Last, when have they not been suspected of serious wrongdoing, of terrible lapses of judgment, and of conduct severely detrimental to the welfare of this nation? Who and when and how…?
I upturn an ancient Roman saying: licet bovi, non licet Jovi. What is permitted an ox is not permitted Jupiter. Presidents are not oxen; they are expected to be ‒ should be, must be ‒ transcendent in their dealings, in their stewardship through a certain indefinable resonance of character.
I submit that Guyanese have not seen any of this from its leaders. In fact, the opposite is closer to the meagre reality.
Editor, if and when any fellow citizens step forward to provide acceptable answers to the foregoing questions, I stand ready to honour, and honour without qualification.