By Cliff Rajkumar
Let us hope that President Ali will now fulfill his promise to have the Indian Indenture landing records preserved by readily available digitization equipment and expertise. We see this as a requisite landmark requirement that cannot be ignored and deferred any longer since the records are rapidly deteriorating and will soon disappear. Records, which, like our own birth certificates, hold the key hereditary information of our ancestors and represent a key aspect of our Guyanese history. Our illustrious ancestors have played a key role in forging a new beginning for Guyana.
We, the offsprings, are the proof of their remarkable existence and intrepid spirit. We cannot allow their illustrious identity and sacrifices to slip into the dustbin of time. Their integration into the fabric of the collective consciousness of Guyanese society underscores their resilience and adaptability. Because of them, we gained the freedom and ambition to be the instruments of change for a better Guyana and the world. Their ancient values, traditions and resourceful culture invigorated them to strive for betterment with hard work and uncommon sacrifice. The concept of ONE GUYANA is not new but rather is a sacred ideal, as “Vasu Dhaiva Kutumbakam,”; meaning, the world is one family…a maxim that their ancient civilizational culture venerated and practiced.
In looking back, it is fair to say that our shared democratic values, resourcefulness and forward-thinking disposition, were spawned from the suffrage that ignited our forebear’s aspirations to change the abominable conditions that they were subjected to by their imperious overlords. I submit that our generation’s progressive mindset and competitive spirit can definitely be attributed to the nurturing legacy of our noble ancestors whose toil, sweat and struggle fortified our own ambition to break the chains of serfdom from colonialism and blaze new pathways for a more liberated future for ourselves and our families, as they did for us.
Today, many of us speak proudly of our heroic ancestors and attribute our success to their indomitable spirit of not giving up in the face of oppressive adversities…despite the ruthless exploitation and callous ill-treatment that they were subjected to. In spite of this, they found the strength, determination and courage to inspire and support their offspring to get educated and forge new beginnings with the innate competitive spirit and drive, we have inherited. Today, Guyanese stand out as equals in every field of endeavour. We have emerged to claim the respect of our peers and competitors in the global professional and entrepreneurial arena. No doubt, their defining legacy lives on through us, as ours will be by our offspring.
It is undeniable that these irreplaceable records represent one of the most significant and monumental historical events in shaping the evolutionary growth, culture and progressiveness of the Guyanese nation. The arduous toil, sacrifices, and monumental contributions of the Indian Indentured immigrants in shaping the social fabric, culture, economy, and landscape of Guyana cannot be underestimated. To desecrate their legacy by allowing these historical records to decay and forever disappear to the ever-changing vicissitudes of time is sacrilegious and irresponsible. How can apathy and neglect cloud our better judgement to dismiss and keep procrastinating the preservation of the very records which hold the key to who we truly are in the timeless journey of our ancestral genetic past?
No doubt, President Ali’s speech at the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention in India was encouraging. He showered glowing praise for PM Modi and also his own Indian ancestry. I am now, therefore, of the opinion that we should remind President Ali of his passionate speech at this prestigious event and remind him to make good on all of his administration’s and party’s previous promises to have the indentured Immigrants’ landing records digitized, without further delay.
Further, In this August gathering, President Ali endorsed and spoke passionately about the urgent need for the leaders of the world to support harmonious cultural cohesion and the need to strengthen and forge unified convergence of the global indo-diaspora (people of Indian origin). Here is President Ali’s opportunity to show that he truly values the struggle and suffrage of his ancestors who found strength, sustenance and abiding love in the company of their Jihaji brothers and sisters…not religion or politics, but rather, the pure and unpolluted compassion and love that underpins our common humanity…at its core.
It is undeniable that archaeologists and anthropologists dedicate their lives to unearthing, studying and preserving every fragment, building block and artifact that they can find, which helps us to better understand our human histories, ancestral roots and the cultural imperatives that have shaped and defined our collective consciousness and way of life. As such, how then can we ignore and dismiss the historical importance and relevance to urgently preserve such a vital piece of our own history which holds the key to our individual genetic embodiment, which can provide reveant answers to many questions that we and future generations may have?
These records represent – for the Indo-Guyanese, in particular – a very significant historical milestone event that has served to influence the socio-economic and cultural fabric of Guyana. We must admit that Guyana’s ultimate freedom and independence from the oppressive colonial yoke was forged by the collective sacrifices of all those who were yearning for the freedom to take control of their destiny. Our dauntless ancestors certainly played a pivotal role in making this reality happen. We now owe them the respect to preserve these vital links, which hold the key to our own hereditary journey.
Surely! We must be better than this and have the goodwill to objectively separate politics from the sacred duty that we owe to our ancestors, ourselves and future generations.
…A tree without its roots cannot spread its canopy and touch the sky!