2021 should be of tremendous significance for Guyana, Guyanese

Dear Editor,
As we bid farewell to a miserable 2020, many Guyanese at home and in the diaspora would waltz to the famous ballad “Auld Lang Syne”, hoping that 2021 would be a prosperous, peaceful and pandemic-free year for Guyana.
There are some with great expectations and others with less expectations for 2021. Many resolutions would be made, but most would quickly be forgotten. It is the belief that New Year’s resolutions were first made during the reign of the Roman Emperor Caesar, and were of a moral nature, such as praying, sharing of gifts, and being kind to others.
New Year’s resolutions should not only be about fulfilling a personal wish, but also to help others, especially the less fortunate in our society.
Historically, a new year was observed to commemorate an important phase in the passage of time. It was connected to agricultural cycles, which Ancient Egyptians associated with the flooding of the Nile River to fertilise the soil in order to produce abundant food crops for their kingdom. The Thais celebrate the New Year in April with the throwing of water in the hope that it would rain plentifully for their food crops. The Chinese follow a lunar or new moon calendar cycle, which means that in 2021, their new year will begin in February.
In Guyana and the Western world, the observance of the New Year in January can be traced to the Roman God Janus, who was portrayed as the guardian of the beginnings and endings with two faces, one looking towards the past and the other towards the future. Perhaps the most important aspect of the New Year is the seriousness with which we as Guyanese view it. It is the hope of many that the New Year would bring positive changes to the country and to all Guyanese.
It is a time for us to find our purpose in society, carve out our destiny, foster unity, and reflect on the good and bad times. It is also a time to empathise with the families and friends who have lost loves ones, especially to the pandemic; those who are bedridden, jobless and homeless; victims of murders and crimes; the elderly and the poor and suffering.
It is the wish of many that 2021 would bring renewed hope to all, and lift the spirits of those battling depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and hopelessness.
It should be the beginning of a new era, to rebuild and unify the nation; end domestic violence against women, and the sexual molestation and abuse of children; and commence respecting the rights of all in society, irrespective of their socio-economic status. The New Year should be of tremendous significance for the country and people of Guyana, with its pending massive oil wealth. It would be the 55th year of independence, which is the heart of the nation’s consciousness, heritage, identity and destiny.
Today Guyana is beset by a series of crisis, some of which can be traced to spurious and unfilled promises of the early post-independence period. Most of the goals that were set for Guyana’s development in those momentous years since independence have not been achieved. Today, its economy is not as healthy as it should be; and many, if not most, of its national institutions remain dysfunctional. The Irfaan Ali Government is faced with the arduous task of solving many of the problems inherited from the last administration, particularly the pandemic health crisis, opening of three of the four sugar estates, the shortage of houses, and health and education systems that need urgent and critical care.
However, there were some positive developments in 2020. The people’s confidence in democracy has been restored, after its near-collapse during the five frightening and demoralising months of unsuccessful and desperate attempts to change the outcome of the elections by the Opposition. Their hope is that the Government would embark on the process to unite the races, enrich our core cultural values, and improve our modes of behaviour in society. As a nation, we must explore and understand our spiritual selves, think positively and eat healthily. We cannot properly be of service to others and to our country if we are not healthy.
The New Year should be the beginning of a new era for our oil-rich Guyana. 2021 should be a year for introspection and atonement by our leaders, the building of a robust economy, the creation of jobs, an end to homelessness, the eradication of poverty, and improving the lives of the poor. We must strive for equality and justice for all, and accelerate progress towards the realisation of the goal of a better life for all.
Happy New Year to all! We take this opportunity to extend wishes for a Happy New Year to the Government; the Opposition; those who fought for our democracy; the media outlets, including this newspaper; to all the frontline workers of the COVID-19 pandemic; and to all our relatives and friends, near and far.

Dr Asquith Rose