It was indeed very fitting that University of Guyana hosted this important symposium (on May 4th evening) to recognize and commemorate the Indian Arrival Day, May 5th, 1838. A day that marks a momentous inflection point in the history of Guyana with the introduction of indentured immigrants from India. No doubt, the Vice-Chancellor, Paloma Martin Mohamed, and Dr. Kumar Mohabir did an excellent job in setting the framework and stage for the presenters to unveil and highlight many significant contributions and accomplishments of some historic and also contemporary unsung heroes from the Indian Diaspora.
The societal fabric of Guyana consists of a very fascinating and colorful tapestry of six primary races that have shaped and molded the nation to be a unique secular republic. The labor class, yearning for freedom from the oppressive yoke of colonial enslavement and indentureship broke the bonds of serfdom and forged an independent democratic nation that is now emerging to take its rightful place, with pride and respect, in the global community of nations. The journey, however, has not been without challenges. Many brave and courageous souls have sacrificed their lives and others have suffered brutal punitive internment to demand and achieve the freedoms and privileges that are now being taken for granted by the new generation and also the newcomers to this great land of bounteous natural resources and newfound opportunities.
Revisiting the historical past and also the present to respectfully pay homage in recognizing and applauding those who have, by their compassion and sense of purpose, have made indelible positive impacts by reforming a system that was designed to subjugate the outlier classes in a privileged colonial autocracy, is a very necessary and consequential imperative that should become incorporated into the national educational agenda.
Heroes are the touchstone of our conscience. We need to recognize and celebrate their compassion and the formidable embodiment of their character to selflessly serve the greater good of society’s most vulnerable. It was undoubtedly a great learning experience to know about the immeasurable beneficence and philanthropy of many unsung Indo-Guyanese personalities who have dedicated themselves to higher humanitarian and reform causes.
We need to do more of this for all those who have selflessly served the public good.
By Cliff Rajkumar