The initial volume of speeches of the late former President Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham was handed over by its editor, Professor David Dabydeen to Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman at Parliament building on Monday.
The handover was welcomed by the Speaker, who noted that after two previously scheduled attempts, it was timely. He said the volume would serve to educate and enhance interested persons about the manner in which parliamentary proceedings were conducted decades ago.
“They reflect a time when all politicians, regardless had immense respect for the House and conducted themselves in a manner befitting this august house”. The Speaker added that he was impressed with the level of decency and decorum displayed in the House during Mr. Burnham’s era. “I hope the volumes will be utilised by politicians, students and the wider public as, like Dr. Jagan, Mr. Burnham played a vital role in the development, democratisation, and transformation of our country”.
In brief remarks, Professor Dabydeen said that he was pleased to finally hand over the volumes after the initial delay, which he apologised for, and which he said resulted from miscommunication among the parties involved
Commenting on the contents of the former President’s speeches, Professor Dabydeen said that what stood out was the acuteness of Burnham’s mind as lawyer.
“A man who turns up to parliament to debate and he is in complete possession of his brief, he’s read everything you can read about the subject he’s debating so the quality of the debate, Burnham’s Hoyte’s, Jagan’s, you see the quality of the debate in the amount of detail in the presentations…people prepared, they did research and of course in parliament it’s a platform for the display of speaking skill so the eloquence and their passion, and their wit come out. Burnham’s erudition, his command of Latin phraseology comes out. So he would be speaking about for example, the Trade Union Bill and he would drop in a bit of Seneca or drop a quotation from the Iliad, possible to confuse everybody and impress everybody. You have a sense of erudition, not just with Mr. Burnham but also Mr. Hoyte’s and of course Cheddi Jagan’s and Janet Jagan’s. These were people who were serious politicians, who took parliament seriously as a space for debate and national discourse”.
He added that all stakeholders can benefit from the volumes as they comprise speeches from Guyana’s pre-independence era in the 1950s. “It’s wonderful to have access to these records… if you want to see how some things evolved over the years; you go back and read the speeches”.
Dabydeen said the documents provided by Parliament Office amounted to three volumes of Burnham’s speeches compiled thus far. He said the second volume is currently on its way to Guyana while the third is being published. The books were printed by the Caribbean Press which is headed by Professor Dabydeen.
The volume will be available online for free download to the general public, on the Caribbean Press Website.
The publication is a result of Resolution #46 passed by the National Assembly on December 14, 2007, mandating the Government to designate a state Institution to be responsible for historical Research and Documentation and to Chronicle and archive all of the works of each President of Guyana for the benefit of future generations of Guyanese