Mme. Conference Director, Melanie Smith,
Moderators and Panellists,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me say how delighted I was to have received an invitation from the Co-Chairs Floyd Haynes and Paul Tennessee to participate in this timely and important discussion. This is the first event that our Embassy is associated with among a menu of activities to honor Guyana ‘s 50th Independence Anniversary. Let me therefore extend to you, as one Guyanese to another, best wishes for a happy, albeit early, 50th Anniversary of Independence.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Guyana is an entity that is much more than the sum of its parts. The geographic spaces, with everything contained in them, do not add up to everything that Guyana is. Guyana is a repository of the collective memories of our ancestors. Their spirits dwell there. Guyana is a metaphysical residence as much as it is a physical location. Guyana is a dream, a destiny, an ideal to be pursued and attained. Guyana is eternal. Each of us is a small fragment of eternity. Guyana is the only eternal entity with which any of us can claim first hand experience.
Yet, to many Guyana is like a baby that’s been conceived but not yet delivered, awaiting its day in the sun. Today there is a sense of exuberance that that day is now beckoning and that it’s the task of this generation to discover that sunshine. How we should best do so is why are here to have this discussion.
My friends, today the walls of this university will reverberate with the murmur of patriotism. Patriotism, however defined, cannot be mere enthusiasm for the soil and the symbols. It has to be a loyalty to the dream and the destiny, a loyalty unworthy unless hatched within the nest of our loftiest ideals.
Those who who share a common place, a common history and a common future can purchase a greater good by paying with the currency of compromises and accommodations. Such a price a patriot would unhesitatingly pay. He sees this as an investment, and not as an obligation. Who among us is willing to pay these installments? How can we summon the will?
Mme. Coordinator, you have selected discussion themes for your Conference that can easily attract their fair share of controversy and contention: Governance, Identity beyond Ethnicity. We must concede that pessimism abounds. Some might even expect the next 50 years to be a repetition of the last. It would be well to recognize that if Guyana were a car and we were the drivers, we should concentrate on what lies in front of the windshield, and not keep gazing back into the rear view mirror. Do we self describe as layers of strings set out parallel to each other or as an interwoven fabric stitched together by the threads of culture, history and tolerance?
A nation cannot be united or strong or prosperous unless its citizens put away their political differences and work together with a common vision for a common goal and toward a common good. We must be ready to give our fullest support to the things that encourage our cohesion as a nation. And we must not call ourselves a proud people if we are not proud of all segments and all strata of our society.
My friends, as we celebrate this Golden Jubilee let us start afresh, giving ourselves new responsibilities. Let us summon a renewed spirit of patriotism, where each of us resolves to pitch in, work harder and look over not only ourselves, but each other. We are proud Guyanese. We have already navigated many a stormy sea. We know that our ship is sturdy. We know it will carry us safely to new horizons where we can create many a wave in the larger ocean of humanity.
I thank you.
(Speech by Ambassador Bayney Karran, Guyana’s Ambassador to the US and designate Ambassador to China, at a conference on the future of Guyana in Washngton D.C., USA).