COMMENTARY: For me – not for you! – By Geoff Burrowes

I like to think of myself as a good guy.

I am proud of my Guyanese roots. I enjoy being with other people with a Guyanese background, partly because of the buoyant, generous character of our people and partly because I don’t have to explain phrases like “Wha fo Do” or “Mango doan’ fall from genip tree” or “When goat foot bruk ‘e know ‘e Mama home” and I know they had senna pods and castor oil before going back to school, spoonfuls of brown sugar soaked in Canadian healing oil, for sore throat, although the bottle said “For external use only”; or they soaked their heads in Limacol when fevered or headachy.       

Enjoyed black sweet pepperpot or hot curry and roti and washed it down with mauby or sorrel before cutting up a delightfully sweet Buxton Spice mango or papaw (not papaya).

That your hand is anywhere from your elbow out and your foot, from the knee down. That fresh cold and narrah are real ailments and that a “Sweet Boy” is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. “Keep yu’ daughter home!”

However there is a dark side to the Guyanese psyche! We tend only to talk about it when we “get vex”! Which is very understandable!

It is the festering scab that was caused by imperialism, especially slavery and indenture. We believed that you don’t scratch a scab – it only makes it worse. But there comes a point in healing where you expose the wound to fresh air and sunlight. I think that time has come, at least in my life.

I said in an opinion I gave about race relations in BG that we need to forgive the perpetrators of the evil done us to move on with our lives. I got a very spirited and well reasoned response that said we don’t forgive the Hitler’s and the Stalin’s for their abuses, why should we forgive the British and the Americans and our own people for our egregious abuses?

I don’t think that there are many of us with more justification for bitterness than South Africa’s Nelson Mandela but he said as he left his prison: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

         Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian whose whole family was put into a Nazi concentration Camp and who  survived with her sister was, after the war giving a talk on forgiveness and was approached by a man who turned out to be one of their vilest prison guards and who begged her forgiveness. She couldn’t do it and wrestled with it for days before she arrived at a point where she felt Jesus was reminding her that he had forgiven her sins and she must forgive the former abuser. She said that when she did she felt the weight of the world lift off her shoulders.

I’m not suggesting forgiveness for the sake of the abusers but so that we can move on with our lives! Not define ourselves as victims but triumphantly regain our rightful places in this world of ours!

Let us not let the scab fester but let’s expose it to the sunlight and fresh air!

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  • Bernard  On 05/16/2021 at 1:40 am

    You should have been a preacher man. You probably missed your calling. Your philosophizing is like that man standing on the safety of high ground as his fellow mates way below are battling fiercely to save themselves from the advancing, rising tide as they are about to be swallowed up.

    You can preach all you can, dear Sir, but it’s empty talk. It’s time for you to move on to another tune. You sound like a broken record. There’s an old saying that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

    The people of Germany let their guards down in the roaring 1920s and 1930s as Nazism was on the rise and look what the result was. It’s a poignant reminder for the people of America to guard against the up tick of populism and white supremacy and to fight for the end of injustice and inequalities and for the end of police slaughter of Black people.

    If they let their guard down, they could also see freedom fighters end up in jail as Mandela was. It could result in the end of free speech and peaceful protests. It’s not too far-fetched. In like manner, the people of our beloved Guyana must guard against hatred, self-destruction and foreign exploitation.

    Or history could repeat itself. It’s time for you to quit the happy talk, stop the sermons, face reality, take off your rose coloured glasses and move on.


    • baileyff  On 05/16/2021 at 1:56 am

      “Today I decided to forgive you. Not because you apologized or because you acknowledged the pain that you caused me but because my soul deserves peace”
      Doors of the past must be closed through forgiveness but never forgotten as they teach us what not to repeat. Forgiving others for past wrongs is essential to order to move forward with an unburdened heart as hatred and contempt are evil and heavy weights to carry through a lifetime and serve no purpose to anyone but the person bearing it.

      • Bernard  On 05/16/2021 at 2:10 am

        “The … problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves … wiser people (are) full of doubts.” Bertrand Russell.

    • Geoff Burrowes  On 05/20/2021 at 5:12 am

      go for it Bernard!

  • Winston  On 05/16/2021 at 9:49 am

    Geoff I hear you and understand where you’re coming from. Bertrand did not walk in the shoes of Mandela so as far as I’m concerned his comment about wiser people does not make him wiser. However, Mandela was a great leader. That said, a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. Those who want to hold on to malice will never move ahead in life and that is a fact!!!

    • Bernard  On 05/16/2021 at 11:59 am

      Those who want to shove history under the rug as if it never happened should remain in their cave or under the rock they reside.

      Ignorance is not bliss, that is what massa did to our people for hundreds of years. Massa kept our people from school, from freedom, in the fields, raped our women, beat our fathers, jailed them, murdered them, whipped them, hung them in trees for others to see to set an example. – so now we forget and forgive! You are not permitted to preach to us until you have walked a mile in our shoes.

      All the while, massa and his family lived in luxury on the plantations while their homelands prospered and flourished from our blood, sweat and tears. In South Africa, they practiced segregation (apartheid). In America, they did the same up until 1965.

      In Guyana, they left us broke, impoverished and devided. And you want us to now forgive the criminals. Those who support this mentality are ignorant and offensive. Martin Luther King fought against Jim Crow, injustice and segregation and for his struggles he paid with his life. Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus and they locked her up for standing up to injustice!

      We must never stop speaking out against criminals and a criminal history. It is our duty. We will never forget. To forget is to repeat.


      • Bernard  On 05/16/2021 at 12:01 pm

        We will always speak the truth!

    • Berrnard  On 05/16/2021 at 4:05 pm

      In free societies, people are legally allowed to have a difference of opinion, as long as it is not done with profanity, racism or hate.

      I am being censored for expressing an opinion contrary to the sensibilities of a few. It is not right.


      • Winston  On 05/17/2021 at 10:37 am

        Hi Bernard……who exactly is censoring you?

  • Jolyon  On 05/16/2021 at 9:59 am

    Hello Geoff.
    I, with pleasure, read your column pretty regulars.

    If you have any interest in making contact, so am I.

    Yours truly,

    Jolyon (Jon) P. King 

    • geoffburrowes  On 05/20/2021 at 5:18 am

      Hi Jolyon – good to hear from you! Send me your email address.

  • .Bernard  On 05/16/2021 at 12:32 pm

    It’s our sacred duty to always speak the truth, even when others try to silence us.

  • Kman  On 05/16/2021 at 8:35 pm

    Forgive, but never forget! It is important that the perpetrators be held accountable.

    Look at the mess that Britan and the US have caused and is supporting right now in Palestine. Shouldn’t they stop arming them?

    • Winston  On 05/16/2021 at 9:50 pm

      Some things will never change but we must never allow it to drag us down.

  • Jo  On 05/16/2021 at 11:00 pm

    Understanding how Guyana got to where it is today, includes a clear knowledge of the actors who got us there and their actions, policies and prejudices. That understanding has nothing to do with interpersonal forgiveness. Nor does it hinder my self-determination and agency in moving forward to goals to be accomplished.[Mandela needed to still engage with the Afrikaans and Corrie Ten Boom with the guard directly asking for forgiveness.] Of course to move into one’s future unhindered by the burden of the past, forgiveness is to let go and not seek revenge nor, even more important, handicap oneself through bitterness. We as Guyanese, despite the US and British actors who acted to thwart our choices by sowing division, will still be dealing with the same countries going forward. Forgiveness is not needed for such interaction. But we certainly can learn from our history who to trust and how to be careful in assessing our interactions with others informed by the past.

    • Emanuel  On 05/17/2021 at 1:13 am

      To plan for the future, it is essential to understand the past so as to avoid pitfalls and mistakes and wolves in sheep’s clothing.


  • Carol miller  On 05/19/2021 at 9:30 pm

    Loved your report. I am a Guyanese and will always be. I am so very proud of my heritage didn’t know how lucky I was at that time

    • geoffburrowes  On 05/20/2021 at 5:22 am

      Thanks Carl – encouragement is gratefully accepted!

  • JPK.  On 05/20/2021 at 11:26 am

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