Guyanese are proud of development currently taking place

Dear Editor,
I believe that most Guyanese who are residing either in or out of Guyana are very proud of the development currently taking place in our country.
That patriotism, even though not always evident, is present, and often on display when there is a gathering of Guyanese or people of like-mind at home or abroad.
People who were born before the beginning of the twenty-first century are familiar with the word ‘potential’; this word is repeatedly used by our policy-makers when describing Guyana from an economic perspective. Well, at long last, the word ‘potential’ has real meaning.
This potential has become an increasing reality, especially in the context of infrastructural and human development, with complementary efforts to brand and market the country as a credible tourism destination. All Guyanese would have been proud of, and arguably benefited from, the Linden Highway, the Demerara Harbour Bridge, the University of Guyana, the various housing development initiatives, the construction of additional modern hospitals (Linden, for example) among other things.
A few years ago, I was visiting Linden with some overseas-based Guyanese who were travelling on this road for the first time. There were comments like, “Wow! I never knew that there was such a highway in Guyana.” At no time during the discussions did anyone ask which party was in Government when it was constructed. They saw these initiatives as development for all Guyanese.
Suffice it to say that the love for country goes beyond limited political persuasions and ideologies, and extends to – in the case of overseas-based Guyana – a desire to return and invest in the continued development of this beloved country.
Arguably, in the recent past, there has been an increasing number of Guyanese resettling in their homeland. This, in and off itself, suggests an immense desire to make and call Guyana home, and an interest in its continued development.
It must be said, though, that sometimes our growing development in several sectors is lost or overshadowed by political noise. I understand that during the elections’ campaign period, political parties have manifestos that outline their plans for developing the country, and once in Government, they will constantly remind the public of the success stories. I fully understand that it is the nature of politics.
However, at some stage, the focus must be less on taking credit and more on getting all our people to feel that they directly or indirectly contributed to our country’s development. This latter view is sometimes debatable as politics, as we can all agree that it can be polarising and impacts attitudes and behaviours, especially relative to love of country. Hence, it’s my view that our country is viewed by many Guyanese through the prism of politics, rather than “love of country”.
I remember a time in the not-too-distant past, when Guyanese of both African and Indian descent essentially disowned their country of birth and associated with foreign countries due to perceived political backlash. For example, I’ve witnessed the sad revelation of Guyanese of African descent saying Ghana is their homeland, and Guyanese of Indian descent claiming a Trinidad and Tobago birthright before emigrating to Canada or the USA (I have heard these comments with my own two ears). This, coupled with limited or biased mass media coverage of the country and event-related activities, contributes to the overall low morale of Guyanese, at home and especially abroad, to be proud of the progress made by country.
Take the coverage of the expansion of the CJIA in the last four years as an example, and you will notice the widespread negative reflection of unplanned delays and other challenges without much rational explanation for same. Arguably, this impacts perceptions about accountability, transparency, and other values about Guyana. This is where initiatives such as deliberate country-specific public relations and marketing make a huge difference to not only present information in a user-friendly and palatable way, but address myths and misconceptions in order to foster credibility. I honestly believe when people, especially the youth, see Guyana for what it’s worth, and could relate to similar features in the developed countries, they will be proud of their country. This would enhance patriotism, and there will be less desire to emigrate. Thus, we must be intentional that neither politics nor race must define our love for country.
The point I am making, Editor, is that patriotism and love for one’s country is directly linked to people seeing not only the beauty of nature, but the development projects that not only improve the standard of living of the population, but showcase the country.

Keith Burrowes