Home Letters Contribution made by indentured immigrant servants
Recently, we celebrated Indian Arrival Day, a day in time when the first arrivals of East Indians came to our shores. It is a celebration of their legacy; that is: their culture, music, cuisine, language, religion, and a host of other characteristic factors that came with the Indians; or with any racial group, for that matter. Whenever there is a migration, whether forced or otherwise, the migrants come with their culture.
The Indians came under a system called indentureship, wherein the incoming workers were bonded to serve for a period of time, at the end of which they had the option of returning to their country of origin, or staying in their newfound homeland. Most of our Indian brethren chose to remain on these shores, thereby making that valuable contribution to nation building that today we are so proud of. So, we raise our glasses in wholesome celebration with our brothers and sisters from the Indian Sub-continent.
Like I mentioned earlier, this was a migration with a bonded agreement at the end of their stay; that is, the contact workers would be remunerated for their work, and have the option of either returning or staying in their new surroundings. Hence one of the fundamental facts of migration is the ability to have or make a better life.
They came here to make a better life for themselves in the case of those who returned, or for a better life for their children in the case of those who stayed behind.
There is no doubting the phenomenal contribution made by those who remained here, and for that we are eternally grateful. The remaining migrant workers, by dint of hard work and frugal management of their resources, carved out for themselves and for their descendants a life of progress and development. On their shoulders we stand, and look into the future to build that better life here in Guyana.
Now, some in our community take umbrage at a statement made by His Excellency, and for which he correctly issued an apology in order to clear up any misconceptions. I, on the other hand, would not be so modest, for the simple reason that his comments were not, in any way, a hate speech or a comparison of races. He was not, in any way, belittling anyone or showing any sign of triumphalism of one race’s superiority over another. It was none of that, he was just issuing a statement of fact.
What is very worrisome in Guyana today is the fact that other races have no right to highlight the achievements of their ancestors. As we say in creole, “It is only one race can talk.” It is the newest form of illiteracy sweeping through this country, wherein one particular race can openly trash talk another with seeming impunity, while another race, by simply highlighting their achievements, create cause for concern among them. Well, I’d be damned if, in a multiracial society as ours, only one race has the legitimacy to talk, and not another? It is wholly unacceptable, utterly preposterous, and downright foolish that a race, any race, cannot celebrate their achievements in peace. That backwardness must be rejected forthwith, and I daresay would not be tolerated now or ever. All races: Red, Yellow, Black, White, Indian, Amerindian and all the mixtures, all have an equal place in the Guyana we live in. I rest my case.