Guyana: Do celebrate, if you are 60 Years or older- by Francis Quamina Farrier

– by Francis Quamina Farrier
On October 1, most countries around the world, including Guyana, will be observing International Day of Older Persons. This special day which was established by the United Nations in 1991, has been set aside to focus on the world’s increasing population of Older Persons, and to honour them for the work which they have done during their more productive years. 
At this time, there are approximately 700 million Persons who are sixty years and older around the world, according to a Untied Nations disclosure. With such information, some smart and astute Politicians who are running for office, recognize the wisdom in going the extra mile to ensure that Elders are shown respect, which they realize will certainly transfer into VOTES for them.

As is known, elders do make every effort to go out and exercise their franchise since most of them know of the times when only the elites could have voted at General Elections. Older Persons generally tend to be more responsible in terms of social issues.
During the fifteen years I produced my Radio Programme Series, THE EIGHTY PLUS CLUB, in which I interviewed hundreds of persons 80 years and older, I  became well aware of the way Elders looked at life and their responsibilities in establishing a better future for their descendants. On “THE EIGHTY PLUS CLUB”, I interviewed quite a number of Elders who talked some politics, and I can safely say, that they were not only frank about their views, but they ensured that they turned out to VOTE at General Elections. In no way am I berating the Youths in this article, however, I have to say that the majority of Elders exercise their right to Vote and do turn up at the Poling Stations in their neighbours to cast their Ballots. Guyana’s next General Elections will therefore once again, attract many Older Persons.
Some years ago, I had a most pleasant and very enlightening visit with Pandit Rampiary Maraj, who resided on the Mahaicony River. I took a boat ride up the river to his home where I spent about three hours in his company, learning quite a lot about Indian Culture from a Hindu prospective, and the life of that wonderful man. He was in his 90s at the time and was still a role model, not only to his immediate Family, who adored him, but also to people in his community and beyond. Video recorded extracts from that visit were edited into a brief News Feature and aired on the GTV EVENING NEWS. 
Earlier this year, it was my pleasure to have been present at the 33rd. Annual Salute to DC Centenarians, Hosted by the Mayor of Washington, DC, Honourable Muriel Bowser, on April 29, 2019. It was a proud day for me as a Guyanese Citizen, to see a fellow Guyanese, Geraldine McRae formerly of Plaisance, who has been residing in the USA Capital city for decades, being one of the honoured guests. It was also my pleasure of having the Honourable Mayor, Muriel Browser, pose with the Guyanese-born Centenarian for me to take a few photographs. Many years earlier, I was also invited to a Seniors gathering at the World Trade Center in New York, which was hosted by then New York Mayor, David Dinkins. The Theme was, “New York Honouring its Seniors”.
Revered and honoured Elder Statesman, Eusi Kwayana, is a hero not only of his native Buxton Village on the East Coast Demerara, but of all Guyana. Kwayana has the unique distinction of writing the (Political) Party songs of The People’s Progressive Party (PPP). the People’s National Congress (PNC) and The Working People’s Alliance (WPA). Maybe, he holds the distinction of composing Party songs of three different Political Parties of his country, something no one else has ever done, and should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. Now in his mid-nineties, Eusi Kwayana is still alive and well and contributing to his native Guyana with books and commentaries from time to time.
The Theme of this Year’s Observances of “The Day of Older Persons” by the United Nations, is “The Journey to Age Equality”. It is important to take particular note of the word “EQUALITY”. That international organization has pointed out that “Development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of all ages.” In a statement for World Day of Older Persons 2019, The UN also states that, “Empowering Older Persons in all dimensions of development…is one way to ensure their inclusiveness and reduce inequalities.” There are so many examples of Older Persons who have retired, then go on to new careers and continue to make sterling contributions to society. One example is the retired Judge, Justice Oslyn Small, who is now the Senior Pastor at the Smith Memorial Congregational Church on Brickdam in Georgetown. 
So for someone to say, “I am fed-up with the old people. They had their time. They must go one side”, is very counter-productive and even dangerous, since it sends the wrong message to younger persons, that it is acceptable to treat Elders with disrespect, and even violence. It must be recalled the incident a few years ago, in which a mini bus conductor so roughed-up an elderly passenger, that shortly after, the poor man collapsed and died. Fortunately, there are many individuals who take good care of Elders. There is The Commission for the Elderly which ensures as best as possible, that older persons, especially those who are resident in public institutions, are well taken care of. Quite a number of Religious Organizations also have special programmes for elders as well. The hope is that as a Nation, Guyana will continue to respect and care for its older citizens on whose shoulders the younger persons stand.


Retired Educator, 100 year old Hilton Lewis. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

The late Pandit Rampiary Maraj of Mahaicony river during my visit with him (Photo by F.Q. Farrier)

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC, USA, with Guyanese-born Centenarian Geraldine McRae flanked by her two children, at the annual Centenarian Celebration. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

​Retired judge Oslyn Small, now the Head Pastor of the Smith Memorial Congregational Church on Brickdam in Georgetown. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

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