We must remain vigilant against attempts to colonize the Indian mind

Dear Editor,

There is a booklet circulating on the Internet called “One Guyana: Extracts from Glimpses of a Global Life” by Shridath Ramphal. The link: http://sirshridathramphal.com/domain/index.htm

The “One Guyana” ideology is promoted by the PPP government as a model for the future of our country and sees our diversity of races, religions and cultures as problematic when these differences lead us to abandon the unity of to be Guyanese. It is not new ideology nor news to hear it from Sir Shridath who was an early aide to President Forbes Burnham as Burnham moved to establish the PNC dictatorship which promoted miscegenation as a solution to division race of Guyana.

Miscegenation – the ideology of creating a mixed race – is a simplistic approach to a serious problem and is not pursued anywhere in the world as a solution to ethnic or cultural divisions. The solution still lies, rather, in establishing policies that create coalitions based on trust and respect among people, and best practices that encourage working together to uplift each community equitably.

When people freely choose to marry someone of another race or religion, it is a personal matter. However, it is a matter of serious national discourse when it becomes state-sponsored policy aimed at entire populations.

The loser of this mixed-race assimilation is always the minority group or groups. In Guyana, despite our numerical majority, Indians are considered a minority since it is African Guyanese, African Caribbean and Judeo-Christian ethos who are culturally dominant and fully accepted as the status quo.

Burnham’s attempt to shape the nation according to his ideology was not the first attempt to colonize the Indian mind. This was done by the British imperialists as soon as we arrived here in 1838 through an aggressive campaign to Christianize us. Our ancestors bravely and with great dignity stood their ground because they believed that their religions, beliefs, traditions and culture were as good as anyone else’s.

We have survived the colonizer’s efforts and Burnham’s attempt to mold us and now there is another campaign launched by the PPP government with the same goal in mind. It’s called “One Guyana” and I agree that the ideology of unity is very appealing because of its single-mindedness. Unfortunately, the world is raced, has a myriad of beliefs, and is full of stubborn people like our ancestors. Any quarrel with the fact that the world is racialized and includes groups of different religions and belief systems is a quarrel with the Creator.

According to the February 6, 2022 Stabroek News editorial, the writers of the Atlantic Readers series found Guyana’s diversity problematic, which would be an admission of their own limitations. It is more believable that the readers were always meant to promote the PPP government’s mass adoption of the unity ideology and that the writers, as SN put it, opted for “a mixed family with a African father and Indian mother, although neither child was given an Indian name, however their demographic selection in this case would have been deemed eminently defensible.

It is not defensible and the reasons are too numerous to be written even in several letters. These are, however, very obvious to any thoughtful and unbiased person.

My intention here is to alert families, communities and schools of minority groups to these texts from Atlantic Readers and to tell them that you have a responsibility to ensure that our children are properly educated and rooted in our homes to their heritage, culture, religion, and tradition.

This is not new in Guyana. My parents, like so many others, did the same for us in order to counter school texts based on British imperial superiority, and to fill in the gaps left by West Indian readers who presented Africans as the only Caribbean people; Indians, Native Americans and other Caribbean minorities are totally absent. Through the additional and restorative lessons, we were educated despite discrimination and remained true to our cultural heritage.

To Ms. Narissa Deokarran who has written extensively in SN and Kaieteur News (February 8, 2022) in defense of readers, she must be reminded that it was her aja and ajee and nana and nanni who courageously opposed attempts to colonize them. of their culture and beliefs. She could begin her own journey of discovery into her history and legacy that once again risks being diminished and vanished by questioning her own name.


Ryhan Shah

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