Genuine diaspora returnees bring an immeasurable, invaluable quality back to the table of Guyana

Dear Editor,

From time to time, the returning diaspora attracts deep-seated misunderstanding and malice.  The parochial are rankled at those who “come fuh tek deh ting” and who supposedly benefit from their heroic struggles according to cries from the self-martyred.  There is substantial agitation in the childish jealousies and sharp anger directed at returnees.

What would this society be without the ministrations of an involved and caring diaspora subset?  That is those souls who put hard-earned (clean) assets at the disposal and service of local communities, be such through schools or hospitals or groups or any of the numerous areas in dire need of a hand?  No names need be mentioned; it is enough that there are known to those who feel their warmth and their generosity.  No names need to be mentioned either of those who come back to make a killing in the wide open local business frontiers.  They make many killings; sometimes with the help of local patriots, and sometimes with the same assistance from government, whether new or old.  That sizable despicable lot (greedy diaspora members) requires no introduction.

In the next instance, there are those few members of the diaspora who toil ceaselessly and quietly to make a difference through getting things done.  This is enraging to the narrow-minded primitives, who like things just the way they have always been.  This spoils their monopoly over negativity.  Meanwhile, returning diaspora (the genuine part) contribute in coin and compassion to those Guyanese down on their luck and knees, due to circumstances; they are many times out on their feet.  The diaspora members give of their time, presence, interest, and much more; through material contributions from returnees, more strapped citizens have access to basics that were out of reach; some can get expensive procedures done; lessons and textbooks can be had, along with so much more.  The social and economic pressures, already enormous, would be unmanageable for many without these invisible hands, sometimes small, but still very meaningful when the chips are down and the cupboard bare.  While contented locals rave loudly and incessantly, diaspora returnees deliver change.  It might be invigorating to rail against all that is wrong; the diaspora feels infinitely better in doing things tangible to ease burdens of afflicted citizens.

On another note, diaspora refugees introduce standards, add value, and engage in certain non-negotiable practices, all of which are foreign to an entrenched Guyanese way of life.  Parliament serves as a good example and proving ground. Of what has gone terribly wrong here.  In an assembly of approximately one hundred members, I guarantee that if 20% of those bodies were diaspora returnees, then the National Assembly would be a noticeably more qualitative and ethical place in terms of mentalities, behaviours, and character.  I believe that in a near perfect manifestation of the 80:20 rule, 20% of parliamentary membership would make it a model of excellence worthy of imitation by this nation; 20% of honourable returning strivers would lift parliament (raucous, retarded, and recidivist) out of its longstanding cesspool into a place of respect, appreciation, and maybe awe for those who care about such things in this nation.  Many resentful locals are aware of this and do their damnedest to denounce what is interpreted as a threatening presence.  The one-eyed men in a blind man’s land work feverishly to maintain their status quo; having backed themselves into immovable corners through locked minds, there are neither personal visions nor willingness to give way to new ones.  All they live for is PNC versus PPP and black and brown. Having reveled in the swill for so long, life is unthinkable without it.

Conscientious diaspora presences (even those distant) lift the content and calibre of local conversation and dialogue.  It may be invigorating and self-aggrandizing for the locals to rant over what is wrong and unacceptable; but unlike the natives (trapped in the old ruts and lost in reveries of negativity and animosity) the diaspora seeks to make things better.  There comes a time to stop talking and writing, and to start doing.  Returnees from hard experience know about self-sacrifice and improvement (especially of self) one painful inch at a time.  They know about setbacks and failure; yet they do not fear.

Whereas the locals create their own noble dispensations for staying and were palpably fearful of the great empty unknown, the diaspora went.  Members learned to master uncertainty and not having; they did so alone.  There was no comforting crowd, no familiar herd of the likeminded to give loud courage.  Whether it was 50 or 40 years ago, they saw where this society would be today.  Wholesome it is not, and now far from pretty.

When objecting locals have separated themselves from the dirty moneybags, and from working for or partnering with or taking gifts from the corrupt, then they may be able to step up and question, even criticize honestly.  But not before then!  Diaspora contributors do not grovel and prostrate themselves in homage to anyone.  They laud and regard, as appropriate, but they do not kiss anybody’s behind.  Nobody’s!  Not for compensation, not for contracts, not for any consideration.

Finally, the genuine diaspora returnees bring an immeasurable, invaluable quality back to the table of Guyana, and which they slam on that same table before one and all: It is integrity.  It is an unmatched and unknown set of principles that unnerve locals, including the wheedling whimpering; the self-serving insecure; and those fearful of shadows.  Only those Guyanese who feel that he or she possesses a sufficiency of integrity (and actually do) are in a position to dare to question them.  Otherwise there is only the camouflage of noise; the pseudo concerns of those who feel menaced.  Authentic diaspora presences seek neither recognition nor comradery nor approval.  They are not asylum seekers with baggage.  Instead, they come well-equipped mentally, psychologically, and spiritually to give to and grow their environments a little piece at a time, one citizen at a time on any given day.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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