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Guyanese Moving Towards A New Civility


Victor Davson sent the following letter to a few addressees and later stated in a telephone conversation that he intended his remarks for many more persons. He also wished to give “a nod” to the person who initiated the Columbia University connection and those who had planned and organized the Symposium program. In the latter regard, we will be forever grateful to Dr. Juliet Emanuel.  http://www.guyfolkfest.org/symposium2004.htm

All the superlatives would apply to her conduct but stringing them together would devalue the accolade. Excellence, however, is the representative word of all her intentions and work and we saw it through issues of protocol, balance and consistency. Indeed, Dr. Emmanuel would insist that Guyanese always had a tradition of accomplishment born of high standards of literacy and civility.

I would say we let ourselves be led astray and I am grateful to be at what could be a starting line of mutual consideration and eventual triumph over racial and social barriers. [eCaroh/Ron. October 2004]

September 8, 2004

Dear All: [Members of Guyfolkfest Planning Committee]

I want to congratulate you on the success of The Guyfolks Festival. In spite of its detractors and my own reservations after last year’s experience on the Medgar Evers campus, it is now clear to me that this enterprise is deserving of a context as supportive and as dignified as the campus of Columbia University.

The impulse behind the festival is a hallow desire to reaffirm our creed, codified in the words "one people, one nation, one destiny": It represents the best in us, led by the brightest or else the most civic-minded among us, who initiated this much needed dialog about a Guyana that is polarized and stuck without a future vision.

Polarized thinking is useless in the service of healing and reconciliation in the psyche of the Guyanese. By honoring our fellow Guyanese, we honor ourselves and we follow Tagore, Gandhi and others, examples deeply encoded in the lessons of our youth. It is in their spirit I believe, the Festival will find the resources it needs, to assert and sustain its purpose of moving us towards a new civility.

Our national psyche is imprinted with antecedents/ ancestors who have always been "others":  We, who are self-reflective and honest enough about our particular circumstance, know we have been Europeanized, Indianized, Orientialized, Africanized, Hybridized and "Kreolized". Life in the Americas and Caribbean especially, is steeped in this peculiar irony; therefore living with the ironies of the Festival should be no more difficult than breathing Guyana's air.

It is in the nature of the world we inherited that we are expected to consume each other (we are all involved; we are all consumed). However, the genius of the Festival is in the potential it offers to imagine another Guyana, an alternative to the Guyana we have today.

Best wishes,
Victor L. Davson
Executive Director
Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art

Reprinted by permission. Posted October 2004


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