Let our children know all of our history
A knowledge of its recent history is important to a people, for their pride and understanding of our place in the world.
History, if properly utilized can also be a useful tool to help leaders and a people avoid repeating earlier mistakes, and identifying their strengths and weaknesses for the general good.
We can ask, why did the Nation States emerge out of the feudalism of Western Europe?
Why did King George Ill of England ignore the petitions of the American colonists?
Why did Military Leaders ail fall in their attempt to invade Russia during winter?
Why did the US get embroiled in Vietnam?
Why did the Jagan / Burnham split occur?
Earlier experiences offered solution, if those involved used history.
Beyond all these, for whatever reason, recent generations of Guyanese seem unhappily starved of some essentials of our history, making it easy for them to fall prey to propaganda, internal and external.
Our government, the opposition parties, civil society, our parents, our University should come together to correct what appears to be a serious lack of our history among our youths — a critical void exists,
Speaking recently to a young, seemingly keen reporter at Enmore, she knew little about the history of the Enmore Martyrs and the monument situated in her village.
The photographer knew no more than the young lady; they were both in their 20′s.
When I told them how and when the Monument was built, that it was initiated by President Forbes Burnham; how some of us gave voluntary labour to have the Monument completed, they expressed some surprise; the young Enmore resident said, ‘she was never told these things: The details of the incident at Enmore in 1948 were not clear to them.
Later, in the presence of other youngsters, I realized they did not know who is Clive Lloyd, that he was one of our most successful West Indies Cricket Captains, Lance Gibbs, Roy Frederick, Alvin Kallicharran, Ronan Kanhai, Robert Christiani and other great Guyanese Cricketers were new news to them.
They never once recalled hearing any of these names. The Cold War, the Missile Crisis, the 1953 suspension of the Constitution, they could not relate to the excellent Stabroek News Editorial about the Cuban Boxer, Stevenson.
Some corrective measures need to be taken. After all, our belief system and attitudes are conditioned by our knowledge of ourselves.
As these youngsters were leaving, my secretary delivered an invitation from the People’s Republic of China to attend the 40th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Guyana and China. I asked the youngsters what it meant to them. What was I talking about?
With this experience, I felt compelled to say something for the benefit of our young readers. (Let us hope more of them read].
In the 1970’s, the Cold War was still “hot”. North Vietnam launched an invasion of the South, both Super Powers had a hand in this and other conflicts around the globe. US President, Nixon was holding talks in Moscow to cool things down. In June 1972, Israel bombed southern Lebanon. Iraq nationalized the Western owned consortium Iraq Petroleum Company, it was East vs West.
While all of this was happening, Forbes Burnham brought to Cabinet a proposal to establish diplomatic relation with the People’s Republic of China. A number of Cabinet Ministers felt it was not a good idea; they shared the fears of every other Caribbean leader believing that such a move will likely anger the West.
Linden S. Forbes Burnham was determined to advance Guyana-China relations. He got strong support from Ptolemy Reid and Hamilton Green and so, on 27th June, 1972, in London, an agreement was signed between Guyana and the People’s Republic of China to establish diplomatic relations.
The late Sir john carter, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, signed on our behalf and the Charge d’ Affairs of China, Mr. Pei, on behalf of China.
Later, Sir John carter was posted to China as Guyana Ambassador, the first country in the region to do so.
Some folks who benefited from China’s cooperation and generosity forget that their party, the PPP, not wanting to annoy the Soviet Union, did not endorse the PNC/Burnham initiative to bring China into the region.
Let the facts be told. Let our children know all of our history.