The Guyana’s Diaspora Engagement Conference was held from 23 – 26th July 2017. It was held at The Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel and was organised by The University of Guyana (UG). I was privileged to attend.
On entering the Hall for the conference opening, I thought I was in the wrong place. It appeared to me that the hard-working Vice Chancellor, or one of his organizers, had made a mistake by calling the conference, “Guyana Diaspora Engagement Conference.” I would have been more comfortable and understanding if the conference was called the “Afro-Guyanese Diaspora Engagement Conference.” I saw more Afro-Guyanese than any other race, from usher to registrar to technician. The musical performers were all Africans.
From time immemorial, Guyana has been promoted as “The land of six races.” I expected to see the two major races in Guyana equally represented, but over 90% of those in attendance were Afro-Guyanese. Of course, there were the token Indian speakers and attendees (“hustlers”) looking for work and contracts from UG or from the new Granger Government.
Listening to some of the speakers at the conference opening night, I am still a little confused about what contributions they made to their beloved country. How many Afro-Guyanese returned home to create employment and opportunities for their brothers in the Desmond Hoyte’s Government?.
I thought that The Hon. Prime Minister Moses Nagamotoo would have graced the opening.
Was he too afraid to attend the reception? He claims to be a Guyanese with no ethnic heritage.
In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, chanted like a mantra, the colloquial African term, “If me na com, me na kno, me com so me kno.”
On the second day of the conference, His Excellency President David Granger, said Guyana is going forward, but he didn’t say how and where. To me, his emphasis was more on promoting eco-tourism, the same speech he gave at many places all over the Caribbean. He spoke about The University of Guyana’s contributions to tertiary education and his experience as a student.
President Granger didn’t say, or conveniently forgot, the same University he attended was established by the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan and C.R. Nunes. Granger’s predecessor, L.F.S.Burhnam had degraded the University of Guyana by referring to it as “Jagan’s Night School.” Ironically, Burnham’s protege, Ivelaw Griffith, who led the youth wing of Burnham’s party, PNC, studied at the university and was very hostile to Jagan.
The opening speakers of the conference failed to remember that both major races as well as the Amerindians, Portuguese and Mixed have made, and continue to make, tremendous contributions to the development of Guyana.
Ms. Farah Ali