Guyana Golden Jubilee Logo 1966-2016
Photo Credit: Guyanese Online Blog
May 26, 2016, marks fifty years since my native land of Guyana gained its independence from Great Britain. I was privileged to have witnessed the birth of our nation and to have shared the euphoria of a battle fought and won. As a teenager at the time, I also cherished the aspirations for our future, as expressed in the chorus of one of our patriotic songs of the sixties: “Guyana the Free” by Valerie Rodway.
All hail to Guyana, our country now free,
One people, one nation, one destiny,
We pledge every effort, we’ll cherish this earth
And make here a paradise – Land of our birth.
Guyana’s birth as a nation was fraught with racial enmity and violence between the two major ethnic groups: descendants of African slaves and East Indian indentured laborers. Members of the minority groups—Chinese, Portuguese, Amerindian, and people of mixed ethnicity (like my family)—were caught in the crossfire. Supporting one side made you an enemy of the other. Over the past fifty years, that racial enmity has continued to retard the realization of our national motto to become one people, one nation, one destiny.