I was amazed to read the letter by Anthony Pantlitz in SN of September 26 titled ‘Guyana needs repatriates’ in which he almost deifies a few Guyanese who have returned to Guyana to ostensibly serve the needs of the country as opposed to serving their own desires or needs. The examples given of repatriates having “to return to their adopted nation after staying only a short time in Guyana… because they cannot stand being away from their families” beg several questions: for example, why did they leave their families behind? When they migrated did they not do so with their families? I cannot recall any of the dozens of cases I know of where migration was without the immediate family. In view of this fact is it not sensible that the decision to repatriate should be a family one? Anything less would be akin to migrating on two feet but repatriating on one, and so confirm the impression that the so-called repatriation was merely an attempt to try out something and if it fails then, ipso facto, rush back to the world of migrants. The so-called difficulties referenced by Mr Pantlitz do not require ‘rocket science’ to foresee; they are in the realm of simple common sense.
So bro or sis, if you know you will miss your life’s partner(s) or the roads paved with gold, etc, then do not fool yourself or Guyana that you are making altruistic ‘sacrifices’. If the fantastic healthy breezes of our Atlantic that fan you year-long (as opposed to the inhibiting cold of ‘up-north’ and if the happy easy-going life-style of the average Guyanese with those welcoming smiles and heart-warming greetings do not titillate you, and if our fresh hassar and tilapia and calaloo and saijan with the unique Corentyne shrimp mean nothing to you, then realize that you were wrong in the first place to repatriate; do not blame others for your premature or impractical decision to repatriate with or without your “loved ones”.
As a repatriate Guyanese myself, I can say with clarity and honesty that the decision to repatriate is not a whimsical one and, like most decisions, typically involves long and careful discussion with family and friends, including weighing several pros and cons with conscious awareness of any sacrifices that have to be made. Furthermore, repatriates must realize that no society, including Guyana, remains stagnant; ironically, change is a constant. Repatriates should not expect that the Guyana they left will be enveloped in a time capsule; they must therefore be prepared to adapt to the current Guyana with all its foibles and fortunes.
When I migrated from Guyana in the 1970s my career in the sugar industry was in top flight as colleagues from those days who are still around will attest; my departure was influenced by a number of reasons which I need not elaborate here. Thankfully, I was blessed with immediate success as an HRM professional in Canada and subsequently with the United Nations; then in 1995 when the management of the sugar industry was in the private hands of Booker Tate, I was offered the opportunity to rejoin the management. It was an offer I readily accepted because as we say in local parlance, ‘my navel string chuk hey’, and although my career in the UN was also in ascendant mode, I am still here!