An issue which I think Guyanese need to seriously address is our attitude towards Europeans, Americans, and white people in general. Many Guyanese and other Caribbean nationals, professionals included, occasionally get caught in the trap of attacking white persons for the travesties and abominations perpetrated during slavery. I was embarrassed at the recent dialogue on the abolition of the death penalty, hosted by the European Union in cooperation with the British High Commission at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, when someone who claimed to be from St Lucia stigmatized some of the presenters and the proponents of the
abolition of the death penalty as Europeans, and accosted them for contributing to the death penalty as a societal norm during colonization.
Guyanese and the wider Caricom community need to adopt a more mature perspective on slavery by first realizing that while the European colonial governments benefited from slavery at the time, many Europeans sought to push for its abolition. If anything, the abolition of slavery would probably never been achieved, or else much later, had it not been for these very same European crusaders against slavery.
The world is much changed, with America and many European governments pushing for an end to human rights abuses in many countries, with both America and the European Union extending financial and technical support to a host of countries as a means of improving the welfare of these states. While we may be quick to practise finger-pointing, the fact is these countries have their own social problems which they themselves are trying to arrest, and we would do well to accept their assistance without the negative stereotypical thinking.
Further, Guyanese can expect to deal with many persons of Caucasian descent as a result of their increased participation in our economy in the future. These individuals through their businesses and other investments create jobs and incomes which benefit our society. I therefore suggest we renew our thinking of the modern world and do more to make all Americans, Europeans and other individuals of similar ethnic origin, professionals and tourists alike, feel more at home.
Listening to the BBC early one morning this week, I learnt of the trials and success of an American female comedian, Patricia Williams, who started life on the wrong side. Coming from a dysfunctional family, she got her first two children at ages fourteen and fifteen, aborting the third in her sixteenth year. Faced with providing for her two children without the benefit of an education, she resorted to selling drugs. The full details of the interview are available on the BBC’s website, but the sharp lesson from her story is that man is by nature an animal who will do whatever it takes to survive. The inescapable law of life is ‘do or die,’ and this is a fact governments, particularly in modern societies, probably need to be reminded of occasionally, if only to remain connected to the basic nature of their populations.
An inescapable truth at sea is that the captains of ocean-going vessels are more often than not the most knowledgeable and experienced persons on board who have full control of their men and can manage under extreme circumstances. Even so, captains who may have more experienced persons on board will not ignore the wisdom of these individuals, or else will do so at their own peril. This particular facility of utilizing available resources, or lack of them, occasionally becomes something of a character flaw in some leaders today.
These individuals usually wind up being the worst leaders, and their organizations typically face the penalty of poor management and lack of foresight. The principal weaknesses of these leaders are arrogance and fear of loss of authority and control, which is ultimately realized in the long run anyway. Another weakness of leaders is that they very often forget that their accession to authority was not anything that they achieved by themselves, but was the result of someone or a group of persons working to have them appointed.
A case is point is the collapse of the PPP administration under Bharrat Jagdeo. An intelligent person, Mr Jagdeo adopted the wrong methods of managing our economy, for which he and the PPP ultimately paid the price for his abuse of authority.
The coalition APNU+AFC government, whose formation was no mean feat under the prevailing circumstances, is now entrusted with the authority and responsibility of administering the affairs of Guyanese. As someone who worked assiduously for, and was instrumental in this change, I can say that it is heartening to have the new government at the helm. Indeed, one of the things it is hoped is that they do not repeat the mistakes of the former administration by ignoring the interests of the Guyanese people at large and in particular, those who worked diligently to secure the new government.
Indeed, the supporters of the PNCR are keen on the current administration delivering on their promise of the good life, and growing from strength to strength in the future. A great tragedy at this point in our political and economic history would be the realization of what I imagine is the greatest fear of the supporters of the PNCR: the coalition’s loss at the next general election because of arrogance and indifference to the needs of Guyanese.