It is an established fact that a successful nation cannot be built overnight. It takes time, patience and maturity. The saying that, ‘Rome was not built in a day’, is true in the case of many instances including the nation building of the world’s leading power, the United States where the process continues after 242 years of independence. While Guyana is a young nation in terms of its independence and self-governance, in many ways, it is mature. The display of that maturity was evident in the formation of a Coalition party that became the government in May 2015.
Another factor that is crucial to nation building in Guyana is unity—the coming together of all the races to act in unison as one people, one nation, with a common identity spurred by aspirations, goals, achievements and the desire to survive. Unity is oneness that reigns supreme in nation building and in every walk of life. No great achievement in this world could be possible without unity. It allows people to accomplish great things that could never be achieved individually. The word unity is derived from mutual cooperation and harmony among people from different ethnicity for a common cause. The importance of unity can never be underestimated.
Inevitably, from unity comes a collective pride, referred to as national pride. National pride exists in communities and the country as a whole. It can lead to extraordinary success by the people who will put the collective interest of their communities and their country ahead of their individual interests. For thousands of years, that kind of unity has been common in human behaviour and has served to make countless nations great.
Since gaining political independence in May 1966, Guyana has produced a number of excellent scholars who have excelled in all fields of endeavour, including medicine, engineering, education, poetry and leadership. In addition, Guyana is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, minerals, good weather and more recently oil and gas. However, unity is needed to transfer these products and achievements to other areas of our national life, such as improving the economy, reducing poverty and crime and providing a better life for all.
While unity among the races is needed to develop Guyana, we must acknowledge the spirit of our ancestors; the pain, sacrifice, blood, sweat and the tears that they shed to develop the country. Their indomitable strength of unity should propel us to make even greater sacrifice to build a truly independent Guyana for future generations. In the process of nation building, we must be reminded of our history, most notably our ancestors’ long, heroic struggle against slavery, colonialism, exploitative domination and control of the underclass, as well as the efforts, which culminated in the attainment of political independence. Our past should provide us with inspiration for us to unite to face the difficult challenges to build a prosperous Guyana. The Spanish poet, philosopher and essayist, George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is true in our quest for unity and strength for the building of the nation.
The phrase, “united we stand, divided we fall” is attributed to the ancient Greek storyteller Aesop, both directly in his fable, “The Four Oxen and the Lion” and indirectly in “The Bundle of Sticks.” It also appears in the Bible in Matthew 12:25: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”
It has often been used to inspire unity and collaboration in nation building. Its core concept lies in the collective notion that if individuals with binding ideals work together instead on their own, they are likely to succeed. The motto has prominently appeared as patriotic slogans throughout the United States and many other countries, including Guyana. These prophetic words have inspired the building of many great nations and hopefully, they will motivate us to build Guyana one day at a time.
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