– The rich Legacy of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham lives on
By Sharma Solomon
The death anniversary of Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham is today and the time is taken for a reflection on his life. The Burnham government had developed a national policy which envisaged Guyanese controlling the commanding heights of our economy by harnessing local resources for our benefit. It was this vision, bolstered by a dream, that led to the establishment of institutions like the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) which operates out of the University of Guyana (UG).
In 2012 I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Suresh Narine, who explained just how important IAST is to the development and advancement of our People.
Guyanese are encouraged and delighted about the abilities of our fellow citizens and the potential of our natural resources; to see these being taken advantage of and put to productive and developmental use, must make us all proud. This because over the past few decades, due to several factors would have allowed large transnational corporations to now control most inputs and outputs of our economy.
Using indigenous materials, the institution is working to address the major factors limiting the development of paved roads in Guyana due to the exorbitant cost of stone aggregate and binding materials (such as bitumen). Working to improve the process of “firing of coastal clays” for the production of aggregate materials and for combination with lime, fired rice husk, and other binder materials this is expected to produce wear-resistant concrete-like binders.
From improving road building techniques to the discovery of the antibacterial effects of passion fruit by Professor Raymond Jagessar which is indeed good news for healthcare industry, reminds us once again, of Mr. Burnham’s belief that “Yes we can” is made reality.
It was this belief in our ability and desire to prove ourselves that put Guyana on the road of converting our rice into flour, our processed carambola (five-finger) entering the European market, the mass production of plantain chips, earlier condemned but are today in our supermarkets, though imported from Central America.
In the metropolitan countries the demonised rice flour is sold as Health Food. Gerber and Kellogg, major food brands, have converted rice into cereal for adults and baby foods.
Mr. Burnham’s advocacy for the use of our local herbs as staple tea was not met with much enthusiasm. Today these ‘bush teas’ are sold in the supermarkets, most, if not all with imported labels. Jamaica sells us Cerassie tea, which we call corilla, Britain and USA sell us lemongrass tea, all of which are growing in our backyards. The potential for local job opportunities has not escaped me.
31 years after his departure Mr. Burnham’s dream lives on, as Guyanese we continue through the IAST, to do Research and Development to harness our nation’s resources for the benefit of all.