The philosopher George Santayana reminds us that, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Now that we have all collectively and formally paid our tributes to Dr Mohamed Shahabuddeen’s remarkable life, the public record and national interest demand that we consider a few thoughts relative to the common good and the historical record.
Indeed, Dr Shahabuddeen’s own words put his life and this letter, in perspective: “I shall not pretend that my life has been a triumph. I cannot even lay claim to the loser’s glory in coming through bloodied but unbowed. The case is that I have been blessed with luck in my career and satisfaction in work. I hope that I have not spoiled my good fortune. If I have, I ask forgiveness from the Lord; if I have not, I give him praise.”
The hard truth is that Dr Shahabuddeen, burdened, or liberated by these admissions which could not have been lost on him, seems to be acknowledging that he used his gifted intellect to consolidate the Forbes Burnham dictatorship when he authored and shepherded the present Guyana Constitution, replete with all its farcical bells and whistles, preambles and schedules, to become the supreme law of Guyana, and dumped the Westminster model and democratic and legal processes into the dustbin of history.
Dr Shahabuddeen may have made it possible today, despite his demise, for many wrongs to be visited upon his fellow countrymen. Contrary to his son Sieyf’s assertions, these actions define “the essence of Shahadudeen,” and constitute a mixed legacy.
(Name and address supplied)