I hereby pen a few observations on Ruel Johnson’s letter on Ian Mc Donald (SN Dec 18, 14, `Donation to Trinidad was an implicit indictment of Guyana’s failure to preserve its heritage.’) Johnson was commenting on an earlier missive of mine on McDonald. And my correspondence was a critical look at Stabroek News’ editorial praise for Mr. Mc Donald as an outstanding Guyanese
Readers who read my disagreeing response to the editorial would know that I took objection to the section of the editorial that gave credit to Mr. McDonald’s sojourn into political reflections. I pointed out that he never made such a journey.
After McDonald’s reply to me I am further convinced that at the age of 81 and with his migration to Canada, we will never (they say never say never but I am saying it here) see any candid reflections from Mr. Mc Donald on what has gone wrong so badly in Guyana the past sixty years. And Mr. Mc Donald should know why because he chose to donate his papers to UWI and he chose Canada as the country to spend the rest of his life in.
Before I continue with the essential argument here, a relevant digression I will make. I have one child and I have instilled in her the concept of not accepting or even admiring a human who has eminence, status and a huge name unless that person proves to be someone that embraces the values that hold civilization together. That person for all his/her name may fall short by a long way of what a human being ought to be
I came face to face with this brutal reality at the University of Guyana. Dr. Compton Bourne became Chancellor of UG at a time when he held the position of President of the Caribbean Development Bank and he possessed Guyana’s highest award, the Order of Excellence. He earned a regional reputation as a scholar in economics
I have been at UG for twenty-six years and functioned under several Vice-Chancellors and Chancellors all of whom I have had trenchant disagreements with. None of them had the status of Dr. Bourne. In all honesty, Dr. Bourne is the worst administrator I have worked under. Professional and administrative correctness was below even that of Dr. James Rose and this entire country knew Rose and I were engaged in non-stop confrontation
My point is young people like Ruel Johnson come into society and hear about these big names, then these big names disappoint them. And the consequences can be harmful to Guyana because these young people can turn away from critical thought. Fortunately Johnson hasn’t. Bourne, Mc Donald and Sir Shridath Ramphal come to mind
Mc Donald tells us the facilities are not there in Guyana to cater for donations of papers like his. Then he becomes extremely frustrating by telling us that the lack of facilities in Guyana is there despite efforts at improvements. Why say such a fictional thing? UG’s top Caribbean Research Library has been closed for years now. UG’s Library is defunct. The national archive on Homestretch Avenue is pathetic. The fact is there have been no improvements. Why would McDonald want to say such a thing?
Sir Shridath Ramphal had frank words to say about Prime Minister Thompson’s expulsion policy of illegal Guyanese in Barbados. But Ramphal chose not to live in Guyana but Barbados. Ramphal refused to give Stabroek News a comment on the prorogation of Parliament but was happy to shower praise on President Jagdeo during Jagdeo’s Day of Appreciation
Of course Bourne, Ramphal and Mc Donald are not the only ones from the senior generation in Guyana that have not inspired the younger generation to embrace critical thought. There are so many others and that is what forms part of the tragedy of this country. Speaking for myself, as an academic and a commentator, I cannot and will not bring myself to write anything glowing about Bourne, Ramphal and Mc Donald. I have seen too much sadness and despair throughout the history of Guyana to praise people who could have made a positive difference but deliberately choose not to.