We must begin to celebrate our ethnic groups and their cultures

Dear Editor,

I will repeat what Prime Minister Nagamootoo stated in the last election campaign, for which he was roundly condemned by the previous government. He stated that he is not “Indian”. I responded to his statement with a letter to the press, full supporting the Prime Minister’s statement. None of us who were born in Guyana are ‘Indians’ or ‘Africans’. To be Indian or African is not an ethnic group. We are Guyanese of different ethnic groups. People of every ethnic group on earth were born in Africa today. Does this means that they are all ‘Blacks’? No, but they are qualified to be called African because they were born on that continent. Similarly, in India people of different ethnic groups were born there today, and that qualifies them to be called Indian. So the nationality of someone born in India or in Africa makes those people Indian and African respectively. But in Africa, their nationality is not African, but Nigerian, Libyan, Ghanaian, and so on. In Guyana, we are neither Indian nor African. We are Guyanese by nationality.

In Africa, the Blacks can be from the ethnic group of Yoruba, Ibo, Zulu and so on. In Guyana, some of our ancestry came from these ethnic groups. So a Guyanese whose ancestry came from the great continent of Africa is either a Yoruba, an Ibo or any of the many ethnic groups on that continent. You are not African. Your roots came from Africa, but you are not African, you are Guyanese of African descent belonging to the ethnic group of Yoruba, Ibo or some other ethnic group. Similarly, our ancestors who came from India also have different ethnic groups.

The people in Guyana need to wake up from their slumber. The country is blessed with the greatest ethnic and cultural groups in the world, and what are we doing? Instead of celebrating our great cultures with pride and joy, we seem bent on destroying each other.

My recommendation is that we carry out a detailed survey in two predominantly African villages, two predominantly Indian villages, two communities of both ethnic groups, and two Amerindian villages. Let us find out what these communities need to make our country move forward. Our researchers must compile the findings of these surveys and then propose new measures to launch a ‘New’ Guyana. We can use the information from the survey to begin the process of building our people rather than tearing them apart. The funds for this project should come from the business community, the government and other interested parties. We can then use some of our students from the University of Guyana to work with our researchers to get this done.

Let us put our hands to the plough and build a New Guyana for our children and grandchildren, and let us begin to celebrate our different ethnic groups and our rich cultures with pomp and glory.

Yours faithfully,

Charles Sugrim