I told my daughter when I die, I want every scrap of paper that relates to me; ones that I wrote, ones that people wrote on me, ones that have some bearing on me to be given to the University of Guyana. They say ‘never say never’ but I will never give my papers to any other place than my beloved University of Guyana.
Three persons made me – my mother, father and UG. I will clip that cheque of 845 Guyana dollars that my daughter won onto the printed column of last Sunday and make it part of my collected papers. Long from now, if researchers are looking for an understanding of what Guyana was like at the beginning of the 21st century and they stumble onto the printed version of last Sunday column then they will have an insight into what Guyanese society was like back then.
I did ask readers to guess the amount that was awarded to my daughter for topping the class in the second year of her degree programme at UG. The sum was 845 dollars awarded by the UG Guild of Graduates, in Ontario, Canada. Those who emailed and called me thought that my daughter was still at UG. She has already graduated.
I was literally deluged by people who wanted to know the amount. You are not going to believe this. Only one person out of dozens and dozens came close to the right figure. A call from Jamaica put it at $40,000 Guyana. What would my daughter have done with 845 Guyana dollars from that organization? So why did they give that small sum? I don’t know but as academics, we have to give answers to people. Academics do analyses and people will want to know our thoughts on why a Canadian organization would give four American dollars to a UG student who excelled in her class?
Here is my analysis as someone who lived in a developed country for more than five years. When you migrate to Europe, Canada and the US at a young age, there is a Freudian ghost that occupies residency in your mind. You become part of the psychology of White folks who see the Third World as a basket case.
It is not that you are bigoted like the White folks; it is just that you live long in those societies with such people and you come to accept their stereotyping of the Third World. I always think of that seminal book, “Orientalism” by Edward Said when I write on such subjects.
As part of the stereotyping, there is a condescending way of looking at Third World people. You are incapable of understanding that Third World people are just as bright, perceptive, imaginative, philosophical and productive as White people in developed countries are. What accompanies this belief-system is a Freudian contempt for Third World people, which you don’t understand is contempt. But is it contempt pure and simple?
So you think that Third World people do not get books. So you send down thousands of worthless things for them to read, things that are irrelevant to the Third World.
My guess is that the Ontario Guild of Graduates meant no insult. They live far away from the reality of Guyana and the Third World so they figure out that a token 800 Guyana dollars would be welcomed because after all, it is better than nothing at all. They see Third World people as needing every cent they can get.
The perception of a UG graduate who left in the seventies and now works at a Canadian, European or American company is that UG is broken and a show of appreciation to their students by a monetary reward should not be a problem. One must understand that at the psychological level, the Guyanese overseas does not see 800 dollars as an act of contempt. This therefore is my explanation as to why there is this yearly 800 dollars gift.
I didn’t change the cheque because I honestly felt in the context of my life and my country’s development, it was an insult. UG, the Ontario Guild of Graduates and the Guyanese people may not feel that way.
Since I reported on that cheque issue, there are two other things to report on arising from two columns. I asked readers if they thought Canada would have released two Guyanese girls, charged for murdering their father at the request of the Guyana High Commission in Canada. Not one person answered yes. The other one is the envelope issue at the post office. A feedback on that is forthcoming.
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