In any poor country like Guyana, one’s wish list for the new year will never see reality because money will be the obstacle; it always will. I will start with the University of Guyana.
I know that 2016 will not transform UG into even a decent university. Finance will not be there. UG needs resources – labs, libraries, research money, doctoral lecturers, professors, buildings. We will not come even halfway there, much less close. But a start has to be made. The university is one of the primary institutions in life. Once you are born in poverty and you achieve a university education through blood and tears, you are on your way to dignity and self-worth.
Do you know around the world how many poor kids, through a university education, can be found in the wealthiest business firms, top international organizations, research and scientific institutes, global institutes and powerful governments around the world?
I remember Michelle Obama advising an audience of young women that their future lies in education. She and her Husband, President Obama, came from working class families. It might be possible to argue that Obama is the least financially endowed candidate that ever won the US presidency.
One of Guyana’s and the Region’s top lawyers was a clerk in one of the Booker’s stores in the 1950s when he was charged for stealing a bicycle tube. He worked his way up to a law degree and today is one of the richest professionals this land produced. Education did it for him
For 2016, I would love to witness the blossoming of UG. Guyana deserves it. The children of the working class deserve it. My wish list is not prioritized, so there is no numero uno or number two. But definitely, I would think judicial reform has to make a substantial breakthrough in 2016.
Once the judicial system is dysfunctional, freedom and justice become early casualties. A country cannot be democratic if there is a malfunctioning judicial system. And Guyana’s legal foundations can hardly be described as robust. In a country like India with a billion people and the US with 320 million, litigants get justice far quicker than in Guyana.
I have no doubt in my mind that if a Guyanese in January 2016 should sue the Indian state for damages; or a Guyanese should sue the US Government for wrongful dismissal and a Guyanese should sue his own government for the same transgression, the Indian and American cases would come up years before the one in Guyana.
How tragic that people have died or have permanently left these shores and never saw their civil matters come to light in the High Court and Court of Appeal. In 2016, a start has to be made, whereby the judicial system offers justice to those who asked the courts for it and who will get it before they die.
Next on my list is trade union recognition. Trade unionism is almost dead in this country. It is a tragedy that an institution that helped to confront colonialism, and was in the forefront in the fight for Independence, has become moribund. There are hundreds of business entities in Guyana that are poisonously contemptuous of trade union recognition.
Ironically, many foreign companies operating in Guyana have trade unions in their home base. Republic Bank comes to mind. It is a Trinidadian company that has trade union representation.
The good thing about Guyana is that it has a President who is a historian. He co-edited a huge volume titled, “Themes in African Guyanese History,” so he must be aware of the phenomenal role trade unions played in the struggle against colonialism. I am suggesting to President Granger that he make the relevant state institutions available to facilitate trade union representation in every conceivable work place where is it possible to have a trade union presence.
This is an area I want to dedicate part of my life to in 2016. I will devote energy and time to this aspect of the struggle for a freer Guyana
On my wish list for 2016 is the need for a dedicated and fearless population that will speak out against the atrocities committed by their government, business companies, the judicial system, state institutions, the police, and their fellow citizens too. It has been a life of angst for me living in Guyana where people are more pliant that sheep and cows.
As a philosophically driven person, I find this modern slavery unbearable. The most inhumane action could be displayed and Guyanese see it and turn away. They turn away in fear. Guyanese are the most frightened population on Planet Earth. Thank God, Jim Jones is dead.
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