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A draft May 26 speech for His Excellency

by GHK Lall

I refer to Mr. Wendell Jeffrey’s piece titled, “On May 26 Granger has the opportunity to distance himself from the racially divisive behaviors of the past” (SN May 2).  Using the letter writer’s impressive contribution as context, I make the following comments in what is proffered to President Granger as a draft speech proposal for his May 26 address to the nation.  It is about nation building, not the customary divisiveness; about reconciliation and not partisanship; and about tomorrow to make up for all the forsaken yesterdays.

Starting slowly, I share first impressions from very limited acquaintance with the president: he is a humble, sincere person.  He is not one given to great flights of fancy, who will wax lyrical and stirring.  He will not be spellbinding.  Still, I take the man for his honesty and perceived purity of purpose.  While I laud Mr. Jeffrey, I caution that the expectation cannot be anything of the caliber of “ask not what your country….” (John Kennedy); or “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Abe Lincoln).  While these are captivating phrases, the questions to be asked (by Mr. Granger and of citizens) are: What is my private soul?  What is my core particle?  And especially as it relates to cohesion and inclusion here in Guyana?

Now while His Excellency may not be a master musician, he can rise to the decibel of an expert orchestrator on May 26 through a transcending symphony of surging sound.  He must make it happen; it must be his political and personal legacy to this nation.  Accordingly, I share these thoughts and words and phrases for his consideration.

“My fellow Guyanese, on this historic day, on this continuing journey in the difficult quest for true nationhood, I pledge myself to the unification of this injured land called home.  I commit myself and government to work tirelessly towards this hitherto elusive harmony.  I mean and will stand for brotherhood across the rainbow of colors; I stand for social cohesion, and the justice and peace that this represents in the clean bright light of this Guyanese day for the ages.  It is a truly Guyanese day, and one that should-must-endure beyond our times, in this hallowed place called Guyana.

I invite one and all (no exceptions) to join with me to make this powerful never ending dream become reality; this reality enduring; and this enduring legacy our own bequest to future generations.  For too long this society has existed in the crouched fetal huddle of promises stilled by indirection, by proxy, and by concealment.  The time has come for that time to be over, forthe death (political and social), described by Quintus Valerius Catullus as “the sleep of eternal night” to be over.  The political and racial tightrope must be crossed.  Like Captain Oates in Antarctica, the heroic self-sacrifice must be made, if only to assure the survival of others.

I, David Granger, so pledge, so commit.  So help me God!

And with the help of The Almighty, I declare to you the dedication of my energies towards a broad channeled vision that speaks of the comprehension and place of compromise; the demanding call to consensus building, when such counts.  Politics has always been an improbable, ignoble institution; the paradox is that it still reaches, on occasion, for near un-scalable summits.  On this grand day, such summits beckon those willing to respond, to travel the hard road, to walk all the talk.  Walk with me.

This society needs all of this, and some more, if only to soothe its soul, and to move its spirit.  The work ahead is hard and long, but there must be the power of purposeful steps to get from where we are to where we want to be if only for stability, for success and, indeed, for our very survival.  Ralph Waldo Emerson asserted that “character is higher than intellect.”  I agree.  It is why this nation standing at the wearying crossroads must manifest its true character today, and henceforth that sturdy approbation of sensitive, honorable conscience at the individual and societal level.  There can be difference of opinion on the way towards cohesion and inclusion, but I do not think that there is a difference of principle on this most compelling of issues.

Our collective existence has been one of a yoke around the neck; tight handcuffs on the wrists; and a ball and chain on the feet.  Together, these shackles form the wedge that deform and retard this nation.  Can it ever be different?  I dare to say that it can be different this time with the will, and sustained interest to propel forward and past the trapdoors, the bottlenecks and the hurdles.  I so believe and seek to infuse you with these beliefs of mine.  It all begins with the inexhaustible, relentless reversing of a tragic divisive history, one painful, weeping, hoping step at a time.

My brothers and sisters, fellow citizens, it is imperative that all of us distance ourselves from the selfish expectations and sorry results of the past.  The time is here and now to deliver across a spectrum of fronts, inclusive of individuals, families, communities, regions and, ultimately, the nation itself.  There are no shortcuts; no quick solutions; no place for one-upmanship or brinksmanship, but only that of political and social fellowship.

It begins and ends with that one vast meaningful word: deliver.  Deliver change.  Deliver on promises.  Deliver results.

May the month of May remind all of what is possible, amidstthose eternally comforting words of the Psalm 127:1 (as paraphrased) that once the hand and face of the Lord is there as a guiding force, then there can be the confidence that success will follow.  Now let us go forth together.  Together!

  • Emile_Mervin

    While that may be a good speech, here is a sobering one:

    “My fellow Guyanese, 50 years ago, we sent the British packing as we became the masters of our own political, economic and social destiny. We even broadly ridiculed the White people.
    Unfortunately, not even a decade later, many of us started packing to go live with the same White people. Today, more than half our country calls the White people’s countries our home.

    ” 50 years ago, we set ourselves a national motto: ‘One people, One nation, One destiny’, yet 50 years later, we are not one people, but a divided nation that shares a journey to an unceratin destiny.

    “So, as we celebrate the anniversary of attaining political independence, we cannot truly celebrate the true meaning or benefits of political independence. In short, we have to admit we failed. Once we admit we have failed, we next have to understand why and where we have failed, the identify workable strategies to correct the our failures. Past promises and slogans will not do.

    “To become the masters of our own destiny, we have to end racial voting, end systemic corruption and create jobs for the generation that grew up under the PPP the last 23 years, or else we could be sitting on a ticking time bomb with catastrophic national consequences as youths turn against society for failing them.

    “No country can develop without its most precious resources: people. And if we have our youths turning to crimes and being imprisoned or graduating from learning institutions only to migrate to other countries, then we will have to import human resources or suffer a gradual decline in our fortunes.

    “In closing, we can only hope that we can prepare leaders to take over from the current crop in the Coalition government, because the President and Prime Minister are up in age and by 2020, will be well into the stages of retirement. Who are the people to take over on our side or even on the other side? Do they represent the type of ideal leaders to take our country forward for the benefit of all or will it be more if the same: self-entitlement and self-enrichment?

    “If history will judge the present leadership on its performance and achievements, let it be based on this one thing: that we achieved our promises to the people and raised up leaders who can build on those achievements or continue the great work. Or else all that we achieved will go to waste if we do not raise up effective and efficient leaders who ask, ‘what can I do for my country’ instead of ‘what can my country do for me’.

    “After 50 years, our country cries out desperately for sound and serious leadership, from whom will flow sound and serious political, economic and social development in conformity with our national motto. Anything less is more of the same. “

    • rs dasai

      Go back 50 years and tell us about it. I was not there.

      • Emile_Mervin

        It won’the be fair to the history of our country 50 years ago to tell you in this limited blog site what Guyana was like with when it had 750,000 citizens, an abundance of untapped economic resources and poised to take as the economic jewel of the Caribbean.

        But I will sum up our misfortune with this description: a dumb-ass leftist ideology that had no resonance with the people of Guyana. In fact, while some chide the West for engineering the ouster of Cheddie Jagan, the truth is, since Cheddie and Burnham shared the same ideological anti-colonial, pro -leftist vision , Guyana would not have fared any better under Cheddie and a Cuban-style government.

        • rs dasai

          While Burnham’s is fact, Cheddie’s is theory. We just do not know. We have to do our best.