Kaieteur News – The Diaspora remains an important constituent. While the members of the Diaspora cannot vote in local elections, they certainly have earned the right to be included in the decision-making of the country.
Overseas-based Guyanese can only enjoy that right on the condition they register. And while this requirement excludes many of them from having a direct say in the election of local leaders, it is their birthright to be involved in the affairs of this country.
This does not necessarily translate to a constitutional right to vote, but added to the contribution that the Diaspora makes to the welfare of families back home, they can be said to have achieved a moral right to have a say in the affairs of their country, even if this is limited to making known their views on developments within their homeland.
One of the criticisms made about comments from the Diaspora is that judgment is usually passed on conditions in Guyana based on first-world standards. It is a legitimate concern. There is however sufficient historical memory existing within the Diaspora about the way things were years ago and thus to moderate the views of those, who when they come home, tend to look down on social and living conditions.
Too many of the criticisms about conditions back home center on living and social conditions. There is, however, an equal need to concentrate on attitudes beginning at the point where visitors deplane – the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
Without question, the attitudes of the Immigration and Customs staff are far friendlier and professional but still somewhat intimidating. A few smiles can make a big difference. Persons visiting the country need not feel nervous when approaching the authorities. But there is that mild trepidation amongst and often the experience is that when one tries to engage in friendly chitchat with the staff that there is sometimes a less than warm response.
Guyana needs to cultivate a more visitor-friendly attitude, particularly at the airport. In return, visitors need to not be condescending towards the locals and to show respect to the authorities by following the procedures.
There are times, for example, when differences can flare in relation to the manner in which forms are filled. And many of those who get upset whenever they are told to refill their forms would not dare argue back to an official or immigration officer at JFK or Heathrow airports. But in Guyana, some feel that they should not be told to refill a poorly filled out incoming or outgoing form.
Attitude is important on both sides, including the bag handlers, who always seem anxious to rush ahead with the baggage while visitors are trying to greet their relatives. Perhaps a system can be introduced that would ensure that these bag handlers or Red Caps as they are called, simply retrieve trolleys from the waiting area and the car park rather than having the responsibility of ferrying your baggage all the way to your vehicle.
This is one area where Guyana perhaps needs to and can easily catch up with First World standards.
Guyanese always seem to be in a hurry. During the interval between innings at the National Stadium, there was a mad rush to get to the concession booths that were selling food and drinks below the stands. In one instance a group of young English schoolboys formed a line and waited for service at one such booth.
They were orderly and willing to wait their turn. Except that most others were not. Instead of forming a queue, persons pushed and maneuvered their way to the counters while the young schoolboys from England stood patiently waiting their turn.
However, there was generally great fun and friendliness otherwise and one hopes that eventually people will appreciate that things would be much easier for all concerned if when there are many persons waiting for a service that an orderly line is formed and everyone wait his or her turn.
Guyanese who migrate learn to adapt when they go overseas. They generally do not attempt to jump a queue, they are friendly to others and they certainly do not dispose of their wrappers and napkins by dropping them beneath their chairs. Guyana, we can do better!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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