Guyana’s attainment of its Republican status from Great Britain on February 23, 1970 remains an indelible part of this country’s history, and each year, colourful celebrations and the ceremonial hoisting of the Golden Arrowhead are undertaken to remind everyone of its struggle to become an independent nation.
In the past, we have had spectacular children’s costume competitions, float parades, masquerade bands, and dancing in the streets to the accompaniment of steel pan music. This is in addition to the many calypso and chutney competitions that were held across the country. However, unfortunately, this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, none of this was hosted.
Nonetheless, all Guyanese should be excited and proud that our nation is celebrating 51 years as a Republic. As expected, many citizens are engaged in debates and discussions about the level of progress we have made as a country. No doubt, we would all agree that our development could have been further accelerated had it not been for delays under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government. However, this should not cause us to lose sight of the many important achievements that were made over the past couple of decades or so.
Guyana is still a relatively young nation, and there is evidence that we have come a far way. Many of the developed countries took hundreds of years to achieve the level of development that they boast about, but this should not be an excuse for our leaders not to work hard enough to help our citizens achieve their dreams and aspirations. For example, while there remain many challenges, over the past couple of decades or so, there have been significant improvements in the delivery of education and health care, among other social services. The housing boom, which started and picked up pace under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, is regarded as a model in the Caricom region. At the time, owning a home was just a dream for many Guyanese, today this has become reality, as quite a few new housing schemes were opened up and existing ones were expanded and upgraded. In essence, home ownership was made much easier.
As was stated earlier, there is still a far way to go, as quite a number of Guyanese are still living below the poverty line. Continued efforts must, therefore, be made by our political leaders and other development partners in ensuring that more persons are provided with the opportunities to raise their standard of living. In this regard, the PPP/C Government must be commended for its renewed efforts at generating wealth and creating jobs for citizens. As this publication stated a few weeks ago, with oil revenues to provide financing and natural gas to supply cheap electricity for the next three decades, Guyana is poised through the strategic developmental choices of the PPP to finally move “From Third World to First”. Therefore, our leaders from all sides of the political divide must know that our children’s future cannot be realised if they walk separately and in different directions. This year’s celebrations, despite being celebrated virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, should remind us that Mashramani is the symbolism of our oneness. It represents the desire of people of all races to cooperate; to sing, dance and revel together.
When we became a Republic, our aspiration was to crown our Independence with the status of full and complete nationhood, and to make our people sovereign. Republicanism must, therefore, be viewed as a historic continuity of all that our ancestors stood for, struggled against, and hoped to achieve. It is hoped that every Guyanese, especially our leaders, would continue to pool their resources and talents and work harder to further develop our communities and country as a whole.