Forbes Burnham’s Guyanese world view challenged colonialism and the European world view which regarded races as inferior to whites. By world view I mean a way of seeing oneself, things events and others normally to one’s advantage. It is also called vision. Let us call Burnham’s vision ‘Think Guyana’ and imagine ‘Think Guyana’ as a rope. This rope had six strands which when unravelled were distinctly Amerindian, Afrikan, Portuguese, Chinese, European and Indian, but which when plaited together were indistinguishably one, Guyanese. It was he and his administration’s genius that they were able to craft this Guyanese world view and had the courage and skill to represent it on the world stage. I argue that it is: (a) a misunderstanding of his world view; (b) an unwillingness to release the stench of the colonial mindset; and (c) the fact that our education system contributes to the survival of the European ethos by not directly challenging its validity, that brings about the illogical vehemence towards and politicization of his legacy by detractors on the one hand, and an unwillingness by supporters and admirers to see the man in the light of a warrior king who possessed immense mental capabilities which he used to the benefit of all, irrespective of race, creed or sex.
The colonial world view does not see the Afrikan as a thinker. Burnham and Rodney are like their ancestors Quamina, Jack Gladstone, Susanna, Critchlow, and we today make nonsense of this European fallacy. Unfortunately, some among us who have received an education, essentially, an uncritical imbibing of the European world view still hold to these chauvinist eurocentric beliefs. It is this Guyanese world view which is at work when Mr Granger tells the US ambassador that his loyalty is towards Guyana and Guyanese. We think in world views and being aware of several of these enhances the process of thought. My personal creed is ‘he is a coward, who is afraid to think.’ All I did was to think from a Guyanese world view, the one Burnham built, about the issues and events that shaped the nation’s Independence, its symbols of nationhood, the nation state and its national and international policy.
There is nothing more the colonial-minded amongst us would like but an opportunity to tear you, me, or Stanley to pieces, so let’s curb our penchant for self destruction. I cast my mind back to my last conversation on this matter with Frank, in which we agreed that we would call one of us an admirer of Burnham the other a supporter of Rodney, for an end to the use of these two men’s legacies as an instrument of division, and for the truth of Rodney’s death to be revealed.