-National Flag, Corentyne’s Children
“Her children pledge each faithful hour
To guard Guyana’s Lands
To foil the shock of rude invaders
Who’d violate her earth
To cherish and defend forever
The state that gave them birth”
The foregoing, of course is just a snatch from our Guyana’s Song of the Republic. Believe it or not, I love the inspirational lyrics and whole composition of this national song just as much as I love our National Anthem.
Frankly Speaking I have reason to find even more interest in the Republic song because I appreciate that the messages were penned by a Guyanese lawyer-poet who had to submit his words via an “anonymous” name because he was uncertain of Mr. Forbes Burnham’s reaction to his own real name. The words of the National Anthem, it should be recalled, were the poem of a European priest.
But for friendly provocative debate, spare some serious consideration- analysis? – of the hopes of the song of the Republic. “Her children pledge…” Which children? All Guyanese? Who teaches them this fierce patriotism to “Guard Guyana’s Lands?” Parents? Teachers? Parliament? Government? If given easy access to migrate would today’s youth really stay to defend? Or won’t it be up to those who secured a job in the Guyana Defence Force? What’s the mind-set of Guyana’s Amerindian citizens who battle socio-economic challenges daily?
Of course you would have realized by now that the events occurring in certain hinterland areas have fuelled those thoughts. I refer to the most timely visits by President Granger to villagers in Regions Seven and One and Nine which communities are located near to our borders with Venezuela and Brazil. Frankly Speaking it was heartening to me and I suspect hundreds of others- to witness our military- minded Leader interacting with those now vulnerable interior citizens and taking advice and reassurance regarding their communities and the nation’s security against invaders.” But let’s delve a little closer into the history and realities of these communities and their relationships with coastlanders, including the trained official protectors- the males of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
Our citizens, the invaders, the Army
So how have I formed the impressions, the “understandings” which follow? Well, years ago I was able to frequent such places as Bartica, Port Kaituma, Konawaruk, Mabaruma, Lethem, even Tumatumari when briefing parents and educators about our very new primary school books. As well as when I used to do some “PNC Campaign work” in such faraway-from-town places.
Some Amerindian Guyanese were not given to much talking to strangers/coastlanders, but those I encountered in those days were relatively friendly and open, as their children were involved. The Coastlanders who became embedded in those- communities would, of course, love to “Gyaff” giving some intimate insights. Today we communicate more easily with the new technologies.
As is now more realised, borderline Guyanese communities are sometimes populated with persons born across our frontiers. These citizens enjoy dual nationalities, formally or informally. Early on I was told that Amerindians on our borders cared little about immigration issues like passports, visas length-of-stay and such like. They crossed back and forth and “belonged” to two countries. Along with the more permanent residents they would interact with the Coastlander police personnel, military, nurses and other public servants.
These interactions were frequently not equal, not fair, not pleasant. After, I’m told these Guyanese related more to visiting Venezuelans and Brazilians. Some GDF fellows were especially unliked for a variety of reasons. I trust those days are disappearing and that I/we should welcome the President’s meaningful visit to places such as Kaikan, Arau, Whitewater and Aishalton etc.
Calling those residents front-line and “the Guardians of Guyana’s territorial integrity and national security”, His Excellency superintended beefed-up Guyana’s military presence on some frontier locations.
He then outlined his government’s 10-point all-around development plan for all hinterland frontline residents – from registration to health services to communication technology, among other community development programmes.
Now, I don’t dare to think that it took some spoken or secret foreign threat to inspire this heightened interest in our hinterland citizens. And I can’t anticipate how many of our First People the Toshaos will motivate to join the People’s Militia or the community policing groups. But I’m hoping this interest will be sustained. Regional Chairmen will relate much more to the Toshaos; the GDF newcomers to the regions will be briefed to respect cultures and communities and that the President will continue his personal interventions into Regions Eight, Nine and Two.
Finally, I submit that Guyanese – both citizens and authorities – will have to identify and define who are the “invaders”. Out-of-work, sick poor Venezuelans? The Venezuelan military? Venezuelan and military disguised as unemployed strangers sent to gather intelligence? Brazilians and Venezuelans illegals out to intrude with illegal drugs and weapons and to mine our gold? Get to work my military intelligence and loyalist citizens. Foil the shock of any rude invaders! And congrats to His Excellency for remaining at home!
Our children, their flag…
The rank politics aside, there are two primary occurrences that saddened me about the aborted regional flag-raising event at Corriverton.
Proud, talented, enthusiastic school children – no doubt trained for weeks – witnessed a body of robot-like policemen stopping the event and could not even render a poem or a bhajan. Imagine those children’s emotions.
The national flag was then subjected to a tugging-and-pulling. Disgraceful! So this I conclude: yes, a minister – even if not really welcome – should be accorded precedence. But the identified minister “understood” and was in Georgetown. Social cohesion therefore took a beating at Corriverton last Thursday night. And guess what? In fair Local Government Elections the PPP folks will triumph there again.
What do you know of the brand-new cabinet-approved frontline village policy?
Name four countries that can donate transport helicopters and drones to the GDF
On this one – the Venezuelan Claim – there must be a completely unified front. Opposition Leader and former President Dr Jagdeo should know how to treat confidential briefings, however.
4b) Justice D Trotman must be a judicial arbiter of unimpeachable integrity and investigate fairplay to objectively inquire via in-camera/private hearings. And to study written submissions. Agreed?
Hey! “The Chinese” are moving in across from our world-famed Cathedral of St George/St George’s cathedral. I wonder: will they assist to refurbish it before someone paints it green?
’Til next week!