Hope for the future

Stabroek News
July 5, 2001

Walter Rodney was assassinated on the 13th June, 1980. On the 23rd June, 2001, a commemoration ceremony was held at the Ursuline Convent. Fittingly, as Rodney's vital significance in the context of our modern political history was his refusal to pander to the insecurities of our two main ethnic groups and his multi?racial appeal, particularly to the youth, three of the presentations were made by young people, Nalini Smith, Adriana James and Malaika Scott.

Ms Smith, speaking on behalf of her organisation Rights of Children, said that ethnic tensions between adults quite apart from disrupting school life generated pressures on young people with respect to multi?racial friendships. "Young people and children generally in Guyana do not share the adult perception of racial problems. The educational environment is an experience which allows multi?racial friendships to be cultivated without pressure, free from the suspicion which burdens the adult world." Indeed a visit to our schools would confirm the freedom with which children of all races still usually mix, without inhibition or fear.

Ms Smith continued: "For the younger generation, racial tensions impose limits: firstly, they limit access to a more varied world than one's own racial and religious background; secondly, they limit access to friendships formed without reference to race, and thirdly, racial tensions limit preferences and choices. The challenge for the younger generation is not to bridge differences, but rather to retain the freedoms, the choices, and access to multi?cultural richness we already enjoy. Unfortunately, the behaviour of adult Guyanese prejudices young people from enjoying choices which encourage multi?racialism. The future of Guyana depends on the younger generation being more scucessful in this respect than the present generation of adults.

While virtually everyone in his or her personal capacity would reject the idea that they are racist, the real test comes in terms of how we behave when we inter?act with other people; at work, in sports clubs, educational institutions, where we shop, worship, or socialise."

She went on to describe the campaign mounted by her organisation to make Guyana a race free zone. Many businesses and other institutions have taken their pledge and display it in their offices.

The two other young ladies also spoke movingly and well. Ms Scott said it was easy to give in to despair. But she described going to a talk by the young Jamaican computer wizard who recently visited Guyana and being quite captured by his obvious energy and talent. In that moment, she recognised that all is not lost and that indeed in the right atmosphere there is so much that can be done, there is so much to be achieved.

And indeed listening to those three sensitive and intelligent young ladies one could not help but be deeply moved. Despite everything, one felt, as one left the church there is still hope. If only we could stop hating and distrusting and looking for faults and start supporting and building. There could be a Guyanese renaissance.