Division in our homeland

first_imgDear Editor,The recent letter by former Prime Minister Hamilton Green, titled “Remembering the past; lest we forget”, brought back some fond memories of my youth, and also reminded me of how much our homeland has changed.As a school boy, daily I would ride my bicycle home from Queen’s College. That was in the days of former President Burnham, when free education was enjoyed by all, and performance in education was hard earned. Usually this ride home was with fellow school mates, one of whom was the son of the head of the sound engineering team at the National Culture Centre, the other was the son of the owner of a successful printery, and I was the son of an executive of GuySuCo.We were all from diverse racial, socioeconomic & political backgrounds, and our ride home would usually take us through Meadow Brook Gardens past former Prime Minister Green’s residence. On one occasion, I was fortunate enough to be invited in to play a game of table tennis with the former Prime Minister.In those days, Guyana felt like a large village, and a young country with many opportunities for all races to comfortably interact, especially in a school setting, where talent was your ticket to obtain a good education via national common entrance exams.The portion of former Prime Minister Green’s letter that stood out was his statement, “After that October, we saw a reversal of the gains won in the mid-1960s. We witnessed the discrimination of the descendants of those Africans”. No one should deny how painful it has been over the years for both Africans and Indians in our homeland.The hurtful discrimination and extreme acts of violence that have been experienced by both those of African and Indian descent have created a huge divide in our nation. It has divided colleagues, childhood friends, school mates, neighbours and neighbourhoods. In some cases, it has even divided families. Guyana’s population is such that instead of 6 degrees of separation, we are probably at 3 degrees of separation, especially for those of a mixed or diverse heritage.The division in our homeland, due to discrimination, has reached the point where political discourse is extremely difficult and obtaining a mutually beneficial joint solution is usually avoided. The influx of additional foreign actors who help perpetuate such division has also fuelled the problem of discrimination, and has promoted a bias towards the segregation of Africans and Indians. Our homeland no longer feels the way it did before, and a daily war is being witnessed between the Africans and Indians. That is how bad it has become.Some are of the opinion that segregation is the best solution to pursue. More evident is the attitude of “we take care of our own people”. This has fostered exclusion and biased business practices, which have caused stagnation (for the race not currently in power) in many sectors of the national economy. A dual-economy system has evolved to such an extent that people from one race “sell out” and leave the country when people from the other race are “in power”, and vice-versa.This is the dominant attitude in our society today. The long-held approach of “this area being for that group, and that area being for the other group”, e.g. Linden and Port Mourant, has created an unbalanced strategy within the investment cycle, and has undermined the level of growth which our homeland could achieve.This has created frustration in many villages and townships within our nation, while also increasing the risk our nation faces in terms of national security, as seen by the incidents with Suriname and Venezuela.The attempts to create a unity government have not been able to overcome the hate harboured over the years by members of the populace, and the upcoming election may not change these feelings of betrayal and discrimination on both sides of the racial divide. This has become evident given the current conflict over constitutional adherence. This leads one to believe that the racial divide between Indians and Africans has grown.However, if there is genuine interest in preventing the continuation of biased, racial-based investment that would lead to further conflict between the African and Indian races, we should consider establishing a three-party system in which a third party has the ability to foster true discussion on the issues without regard to race, socioeconomic standing and political affiliation.Such a third party would have to avoid creating a coalition with any of the two dominant parties, and lift up the voices of the other races and independent-minded voters in our homeland.It has been far too long that the Amerindians, Chinese, Europeans and the independent voices within the warring races have not had their own seat in Parliament, with the required authority to ensure that not only their needs, but the needs of the larger populace are taken into consideration regardless of which party holds a majority in Parliament. A majority in Parliament without a clear mandate would allow for better judgement of all proposed policies and investment needs. It will become more merit-based and will better consider the relative impact on the citizens who will benefit.This will allow for the prioritisation of projects that take into account all citizens of Guyana.Enough seats will have to be won by an independent party to allow for such fruitful discussions and achievements to be obtained in Parliament. Only the voters can determine if this would be possible.Best regards,Jamil Changleelast_img read more