AS WE welcome the New Year, it is in order to allow ourselves the freedom to imagine what is in store for Guyana these next twelve months. If last year is anything to go by, then we can be assured that it would be another testing year for our country. We are a nation in transition from an underdeveloped economy to one that could finally turn the corner towards some form of systemic relief from the pangs of that condition. How we navigate that transition would determine how we fare in the long run. This coming year, therefore, could well turn out to be a pivotal one—Guyana’s year of the turn.
We have had the benefit of much advice from many quarters about the inherent challenges of a new petroleum-driven economy. Clearly, there is much to learn, especially about our own inevitable pitfalls. But, in the end we must chart our own destiny and in the process, make our own mistakes. Our biggest challenge is our own internal socio-political fragmentation. Somehow, 2018 must be the year of the turn away from the destructive politics of “us versus them.” Maybe, because we have said it so many times, it has become a cliché, without much seriousness therein. But, for the sake of our future, we must continue to believe that we are better than we have demonstrated thus far.
This must also be the year when we strengthen the social fabric which has taken a serious beating in the recent past. Our youth are sliding into a dangerous zone at a very fast and furious pace. This, we cannot ignore, even as our national attention is focused on larger political matters. Our young people must be rescued from the grasp of despair and alienation. This year must witness something big and all-encompassing that shines more light on a different future that is grounded in a reality that our young people can identify with. This must be the year of the turn for our young people.
This past year we saw modest improvements in our education process as far as examination results are concerned. But as we face the coming period in our decolonization, we must return to the brilliant and uplifting education condition which was once the envy of even our then colonizers. Let this year be the year of the turn in our journey back to the mountain top of education. There can be no sustained economic development outside of that rebirth in our education system and process.
Let this be the year of the turn away from bigotry—racial and social-class bigotry. Too often we have allowed ourselves to slip into that zone of otherization. Racism is the biggest scourge in our midst—it breeds other scourges. It sullies our politics and renders us helpless in the face of sinister threats to our oneness and jointness. Racism is man-made, and it can be unmade by human beings. Let this year be the year when we, citizens of this piece of earth, stand up to the bigots among us, even if they are our leaders. We may be different in terms of cultural origins, but we are not historical enemies. Let this year point us in a different direction—away from the belly of the beast of racism.
And to those, who because of social wealth, enjoy special privileges and have come to think that that is the natural order, we urge a turn in the direction of enlightened humanism. Wealth and privilege are transitory, but humanity is sacrosanct. Let this be the year when Guyana fights back against the dehumanization of the poor at the expense of the rich.
And let this year also be the year of the turn for the safety of our young women in the face of male-driven violence. We have spilled the blood of too many young women, simply because they are women. But they are our mothers and sisters and daughters—they are human too. The nation must in this new year erect barricades against anti-women violence—we have no other choice.
So, let this year be the year when violence against children flee our collective consciousness. When a society devours its children in the way we have done this past year, there must be a special hole in hell for us. Let this be the year when we turn our energies towards loving and protecting our children.
Let 2018 be Guyana’s year of the turn to the better instincts within us. We are the descendants of the oppressed, not the oppressors. We are the children of the downtrodden, not the downpressors. We are the survivors of slavery, not the enslavers. Let this be our year of the turn towards our rightful roots. Happy New Year Guyana.