Delon Moffett wants you to #MoveForward. And by that, he means look beyond the past and, well, move forward.
“The past is good because it teaches us valuable lessons about moving forward. Nevertheless if you look behind you for too long while going forward you will definitely crash,” he says. Quite a few persons it seems, feel similarly and in the age of social media, Moffett, who is currently studying in New York, has found the ideal medium for his message in Facebook where he has created his ‘Youth Moving
“I was born in August, 1991. My experience of police brutality, poverty, blackouts and racism was not before 1992. I have spent all but a few months of my life growing up under the current government,” he wrote on the page.
“My first real recollection of a major political event was (former President) Janet Jagan throwing the writ over her shoulder and the song that soon followed. I have seen many forms of injustice during my 23 years in Guyana. In the year 2015, I want to move forward. I want to move forward with new found hope for a brighter future, a future where policies are discussed with stakeholders so that educated decisions could be made with the entire country in mind,” he wrote.
And that essentially is the message and those crafted by others are similar in tone each detailing their experiences under the PPP government – under which most have lived for almost their entire lives – and saying it is time to move forward. With general elections scheduled for May 11, Moffett’s #MoveForward movement is trending, he has garnered more attention than most and in one way or the other, individuals and politicians have picked up and utilized #MoveForward in some way though for those supporters of the ruling party, it has not been in a way that is complimentary.
Letters critical of #MoveForward have been written and published and he has been called names and been subject to slurs.
“I remember having to defend the movement under one of the pro-PPP pages after it was alleged that the founder of the page was being directed by the leaders of the opposition party. This defense lead to me being labelled a racist and a thug because I refused to discuss pre-1992 with anyone,” he told Stabroek News.
“It was also suggested that the page pays persons for their image and craft the messages on their behalf. Something I felt was very insulting to the youths who took the time to express their views,” he added.
He rejected the view that the movement supports a political party and insists that his political views are separate and apart from the movement itself.
“The message of the movement is to move forward. The page encourages individuals, regardless of political affiliation, to come and share their thoughts on the issues at hands and offer practicable ideas on how to move forward. Persons supporting the PPP are welcome on the page as long as the message is a message that leans towards “moving forward.” Further if any message supporting the political opposition seeks to burden people with the alleged past of the PPP that lies outside of their realm of experience for youth, then that will not be encouraged,” he said.
Moffett related that that he has seen attempts to denigrate the Youth Moving Forward movement in ways similar to attempts to undermine the voter education drive by the Guyana National Youth Council. “In my attempt to combat the misconception that the page supports the opposition, I personally reached out to Minister (of Natural Resources and the Environment) Robert Persaud and asked him if he would like to share a move forward message on the page and to date he have not responded,” he said while adding that he is in no position to tell anyone how to craft their message and who to support.
The 23-year-old college student emphasised that he plans to lead the #MoveForward campaign with utmost respect for everyone’s freedom of expression and freedom to choose which party they want to support. “I am not a political activist and even though I have my own political views it does not and should not represent the overall message of the enterprise,” he said.
Moffett emphasised that ‘Youth Moving Forward’ allows youths to express how they feel about the issues that affects them. “The message shared by these youths represents their own opinions and the movement itself encourages people from all political persuasions. The overall objective of the movement is to simply demand that no political party burdens youth with history that is outside of their direct experience while refusing to deal with current issues that concern young people,” he asserted.
He related that he was inspired to ignite the movement when the “pre-1992 discussion” resurfaced. “I felt as though Guyana was taking a backward step by not touching on the issues that affect the youths who actually make up a large percentage of the electorate. Spare a thought for the youths who have little recollection of life before 1992 and those who have none at all, must we constantly be reminded of those dark days so that we may be filled with hate and bitterness,” he questioned.
“My wish is not to have anyone forget the past or their own personal experience prior to 1992 but to express the view that there are times when we should leave the past where it is and focus on the tasks at hand so that we may finally move forward,” he declared.
Up to earlier this month, 2543 persons had ‘liked’ the page which was created on February 16th and about 58 persons had posted messages about why they want to #MoveForward. A cross-section of mostly young Guyanese including former Miss Guyana Ruqayyah Boyer posted on the page about why they want to #MoveForward.
In one of the more poignant posts, one young woman who said that she was tired of public officials who think they are above and beyond the law, wrote: “I hope the guy that protests outside Anil Nandlall’s office never ever becomes tired.” Her #MoveForward message was posted to the page on February 25. The man she was speaking of, Courtney Crum-Ewing, 40, was gunned down 13 days later on March 10, by a group of men in a car shortly after 8 pm as he walked along a street in the Diamond, East Bank Demerara community where he lived. At the time, he was urging persons to come out and vote at the upcoming May 11th general elections so that the PPP/C could be removed from office.
Moffett said that he is satisfied with the response to the movement “especially since one of the persons who reached out to the page to encourage the youths to keep up the good work was Father Malcolm Rodrigues who has long been a champion for democracy and freedom of expression.”
He added that the response could be greater if persons remove the anxiety that may arise if they discussed issues that are political in the open. “I know they are many out there who may want to share their concerns but are afraid of being targeted by persons who may not support their visions,” he explained.
The St. Stanislaus College graduate said that he believed that social media is going to play a critical role in the current electoral season because of the speed of the internet. “Speed in terms of getting a message out there. A lot of the persons voting for the first or second time are very young and spend lots of time on the internet where they could be reached easily. I do believe that the messages need to be crafted with youths in mind since the youths are the future and the ones most likely to move forward and have progressive thoughts,” he said.
Moffett is unsure about whether he would be in Guyana to vote in the May 11 elections as his studies are continuing but if he gets a chance to be in Guyana on that date, he would vote.
In the meantime, he wants Guyanese to #MoveForward.