Next week we celebrate 48 years of Independence. Ours is yet a young nation, still growing up. What kind of nation are we becoming?
Born after World War 2, into an international arena where the United Nations brings together the peoples of the world into a global family, we started with visionaries in Dr Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham.
While both may have misread the world context of their times, focusing on internal socio-economic revolutions and thus suffering from the geopolitical realities of ambitious global superpowers, they positioned the Guyanese nation for greatness.
While the Caribbean leaped ahead and left us languishing in economic doldrums, we played a key role in the grand scheme of things. Burnham’s role in forming CARICOM, in leading from the front at the Non-Aligned Movement and at the Commonwealth are brilliant triumphs for our young nation.
Dr Jagan’s idea for Human Development, adopted as a socio-economic blueprint for the world at the United Nations recently, is a brilliant symbol of who we are: the Guyanese nation is world class.
We produced so many global sons and daughters of outstanding merit: Eddy Grant in music; Sir Shridath Ramphal in global politics; Dr Walter Rodney in social justice; Nicole Fernandes in sports. The list is long and distinguished, covering every area of the earth.
This promise of greatness, however, comes with the pain of unfulfilled potential.
Our sons and daughters, most times as citizens of other lands, accomplish outstanding feats on the world stage, in sports, academia, culture and leadership.
Our Guyanese nation, in fact, built up a history that is admirable, despite the severe socio-economic dysfunction that still dogs us today.
We stand today on a pedestal, where we see our potential play out worldwide. The crowning star of our nationhood is the fact that the brain, talents, resourcefulness and life-skills of Guyanese are in demand around the world.
However, we suffer a crushing 89 percent brain drain at home today, with even graduates of the University of Guyana, along with our nurses, teachers and trades people leaving.
Fact is, the world demands the Guyanese brain. Canada, America, the Caribbean , Africa and Asia see value is us, in our potential, our human assets and our intellectual capital.
Our homeland now has to compete with advanced nations of the world for the Guyanese brain. That’s the crucial fact facing us today as we celebrate our 48th anniversary as a nation.
The one thing that defined and formed us these 48 years has been that steady migration trend.
Today we face a society gutted of skills, expertise, knowledge-workers and intellectual talents. Those who show potential pack their bags and leave for advanced societies where their lifestyle could match their abilities.
Today, we face this crucial question: at 48 years old, how do we lift ourselves as a people so that this potential for being a great nation becomes homegrown reality?
How do we convert the dreams of our founders, Jagan and Burnham, into substantial 21st century reality?
We must care about each other. This nation is not about tribal enclaves. We were forged together as a nation out of colonial labour camps. Out of hard back-bending, sun-burnt labour on the land we became one people. We chose to stay together, instead of going back to our ancestral lands, and become one nation. We designed one destiny for us, as a Guyanese people.
How do we realize this Guyana Dream, this march into the history of humanity as One People, One Nation, with One Destiny?
We must care about each other. We must cultivate a national ethos of understanding, reaching out in empathy, embracing each other in mutual trust, working in the best interest of each other. We must care about each other.
Our fellow Guyanese who dwell on the streets, deranged, want us to care for them so that we do something to get them into decent care, where their human dignity suffers not.
If we cannot care for the least among us, how could we care for each other?
Our children, those delicate flowers of our future, need our care, understanding and hard work. They need us to get our act together and bequeath to them a nation that works in their best interest.
Stabroek News carried an Editorial this week lamenting the sad state of our children, noting the high incidents of sexual abuse of our kids, with scant justice.
We cannot just sit by and allow powerful old men to take advantage of our poor little girls. Ours must be a substantially humane, compassionate, caring nation.
After 48 years, with all the historical lessons we’ve learned of ourselves as we grew up, we now stand at a place where we can design the kind of future we dream about as a Guyanese people.
How do we accomplish that?
In caring for each other, we ought to look into the eyes of our children, and reach out to shape, mould and train them to be the best they could be as Guyanese.
Each of us needs to be a mentor, a coach, a life-training teacher to the children of our nation. The future of our nation lies in the hands of the adults. The onus is on adults and our senior citizens to pass on their wisdom and history to the new generations, to shape and define the Guyanese Dream in the hearts and minds of future Guyanese.
At 48 years old, we learned enough to mentor, coach and train the future of the nation. And this role rests on the shoulders of each one of us. We mentor, coach and train the Guyanese nation into becoming a dignified people upon the world stage.
Each of us must take on the responsibility to make this happen, caring for each other, one heart, one mind at a time.
At 48 years as a nation, each Guyanese is a mentor, a coach, a teacher, of every other Guyanese. In that role, we’ll advance and grow to become a great people in the hallowed halls of human history.