COMMENTARY: A New Day in Guyana – Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Sometimes it requires a personal rather than political or professional perspective to see beyond the borders of a seemingly divisive circumstance, and to offer a dispassionate comment. I was named by my father after his cousin, Hilary Alfonso McDonald Beckles. “HAM Beck”, as he was called, was little known in our native Barbados, but his contribution to nation-building in Guyana is well respected. In the late 1940s, he fled “Bim” for “BG”. He taught classics for near three decades at Queens College in Georgetown, where he also became principal. 

His commitments to Guyana straddled the diverse ethnic and cultural scene. He married an Amerindian woman and considered himself a research authority on Hindu culture and Indian civilization. He admired the colony’s ethnic diversity and adopted the new nation of 1966 as his home. Supporting the nation’s dream for democratic development and the equality of ethnicities was his personal quest. 

Through those eyes, I came to embrace the wonderful land of a thousand rivers. I know something of its history and culture, including the good and the bad times evident in its turbulent journey to and beyond nationhood. It has been a torn and tortured terrain with divisive seeds sown in the colonial waters that nurture the rich land. 

The determined evidence of the debilitating deployment of ethnic identity as expressions of indigenous nationalism can be seen in far too many places. But, above it all, there is also the compelling story, in the history from sea walls to sugar estates, of commitment to the paramount principle that the will of the people should not be toppled, but respected. 

The people have spoken. And so has the highest court. From the 2019-2020 electoral campaign and franchise exercise, their will is now known. With much pain and sacrifice, the process has been monitored and reviewed by CARICOM. The findings of the outcome should be declared and implemented. There is no other option that will be acceptable to the region and wider world. The future of the nation is assured with the compliance of State to the popular will. The regional court is counting on the integrity of the polity to protect the democracy. 

Fear of the future is not an acceptable explanation for franchise frustration in the present. Ethical conduct, and not ethnic constructs, is expected to rule when democracy is in need of advocacy. The children of indigenous survivors, the chattel enslaved, the deceived indentured, and others in between, must now converge at the rendezvous of victory. The minority party should stay the course and continue to contribute to the sustainability and maturity of the integrated, multi-racial nation. 

In this regard, despite the challenges of late, the nation has much to teach its region and the world beyond. This year is the 40th anniversary of the violent taking of Walter Rodney’s life. It was forfeit because of the socially and politically integrated values he held most dear. He was from that generation of outstanding Guyanese scholars nurtured by HAM Beckles. 

I join with the current and past Heads of CARICOM, the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves and the Honourable Mia Mottley respectively, and with the former Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Owen Arthur, in calling for the official embrace of the evidentiary truth of the election. Every hour that the celebration of a new day is allowed to sour, the greater will be the tarnish on the varnish of the history of a great nation.

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  1. Truth
    July 14, 2020

    Too many outside influence in Guyana’s elections. Isn’t Guyana a sovereign nations? Let Guyana sort out its political wrangling without the interference of persons/organization
    who seek foothold for their own gain.

  2. iprotest
    July 13, 2020

    All I’m prepared to say is that de Guyanese population is going through a serious test of fate with the political tensions between afro and info Guyanese.
    When I look at Caribbean leadership…… since Guyana struck oil…. some deep pocket leaders are salivating. Visible push for Guyanese election and democracy eh.
    Last December de RSS was shooting teargas on innocent citizens of Dominica in the village of Salisbury. I will single out de prime minister of St Lucia who pulled out his troops…. other Caribbean leaders were moomoo. This incident occurred on the day before the last general election sir.
    On the day before a general election
    Where is man soul
    Where is man conscience

  3. A Straight Shooter
    July 12, 2020

    Sir Beckles, please mind your business and let the Guyanese people work out their issues. This South American nation has been in political turmoil since prior to independence. The racial divide in Guyana is cavernous and getting wider as the the two major groups (Afro Guyanese and Indo Guyanese continue to occupy the land instead of productively co-existing.

    The recent oil discovery has only served to further divide the populace which have become more entrenched in their selfish allegiance.

    No amount of outside interference will right that sinking ship. It is all up to the crew and passengers to work together in order to find common ground.

  4. supersquare746
    July 12, 2020

    I find it passing strange that all of these leading persons in the Caribbean have all lined up to ask Granger to concede but not one would join with Granger and say : ‘Elections must be won on valid votes only”The OAS is compromised and its former Head – a Guyanese had a very close relationship with Jagdeo.Comrade Ralph has already openly stated that he’s friends with Jagdeo and has stayed at his home.Mottley is seeking to assert herself as the Leader of the region so will use any opportunity to do so, and it’s also alleged that she is close with Jagdeo.
    The American lobbying firm Mercury has been used to lobby U.S congressmen and ambassadors from certain western country – who really have no interest in Guyana or its people – other than to get their hands on the oil which ha been found in Guyana.Jagdeo was out front seeking to convince people he won,yet he has never denied the massive fraud found in his strongholds of dead people voting,more votes in the boxes than people on the…

  5. Jonathan Y St Jean
    July 12, 2020

    We are witnessing the evolution of the Democratic process in the Caribbean region and from my point of view, it’s ugly fruits that are being produced on the vine right now. Rather than keep the status quo, today’s leaders are pushing the envelope and testing to see how much can they get away with. It’s not only the political process but the legal process is being forced to come to the dance floor and apply moves to the new political beat, whilst applying precedents of the old form. Today’s political realities are tempting the hands of fate and leading to uncharted waters where the electorate might have to engage in unprecedented actions to get their franchise respected. The same way that new law is created by new circumstances, our intellectual political assets, like Sir Beckles, should start being proactive and analyze “what-if” situations to inform the politicians, legal family, and the electorate of potential outcomes and solutions. To be forewarned is to prevent bad…

  6. Batibou River
    July 12, 2020

    How long has the nation of Dominica got to suffer before the election issues are being sorted? Why did our neighbours send troops to our country just on the request of a dictator in the making? Plenty of questions that need answering. Our country needs justice and fairness!

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