June 9 2019
British High Commissioner Mr. Gregory Quinn should be given credit for drawing attention to our unrealized potential as a country. And even though the genesis of our under-development ran deep into our colonial past, our current divisive and adversarial politics cannot escape responsibility for our current woes.
As a child growing up, I have been indoctrinated into a belief that we are potentially a rich country. I still harbour that belief and optimism.
However, after over 150 years of British colonial rule and 53 years of post-colonial rule we are not any closer in terms of realizing that potential. Our riches still remain elusive and underdeveloped. Despite some limited progress, we are still ranked among the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
There is no point in trying to cast blame as to who or which political party is responsible for the current state of our under-development. I doubt we will ever agree. There is that tendency to view reality through the prism of our own political and ethnic lens.
I do believe, however, that there is some merit in following the example of South Africa when the abominable system of apartheid came to an end and democratic rule was finally granted a few decades ago. One of the first action taken by the victorious African National Congress (ANC) under the leadership of the iconic Nelson Mandela was the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with a view to healing the nation from the wounds of a dreaded past.
Guyana is crying out for a new governance model based genuine inclusivity and participatory democracy.
The current system of ‘winner takes it all’ has become dysfunctional from the standpoint of realising our full potential. As the British High Commissioner correctly observed, the country cannot advance in an environment of adversarial politics. Both the Government and the political opposition have to find ways of agreeing on fundamental issues that will positively impact on our development.The solution to our political and economic crisis lies in our own hands. We have to take collective responsibility to change the course of our politics in order to achieve the good life that we all look forward to and deserve. The emergence of oil and gas offers a glimmer of hope that the El Dorado that we are famous for will sooner rather than later become a reality.
I sincerely believe that if only we can rise above the narrow confines of race and prejudice, we can change the tide of poverty that has characterized our existence over the decades.