Mr. Reginald Debah and Cricket Legend Mr. Clive Lloyd in London. Pic by Ms. Devika Debah.
Last Thursday I attended a ceremony at the Guyana embassy, London, to celebrate the twinning of Aberdeen, Scotland, with our capital city Georgetown. There were about sixty invited guests with the VIP’s including our High Commissioner Mr Frederick E Case, Mr Clive Lloyd CBE, the Lord Provost of Aberdeen and the historian Mr Clem Seecharran. All delivered very short speeches to what was an informal and very friendly gathering. The speeches were mainly about the expected benefits of the oil wealth, and also the beneficial influences of Sir Jock Campbell on the welfare of the labourers, our forefathers. This gentleman has time and again been referred to as the greatest Scottish Guyanese, a recognition of projects that he implemented that were claimed to have greatly improved the welfare of the workers. It is reported that he once saw several well built buildings that looked far more suitable for human occupation than the logies, but was told the occupants were mules. His suggestion of a switch was met with a most telling remark: ” mules cost money”. Need we say anymore!!
The discovery, by Exxon Mobil, of vast oil reserves off the coast of Guyana has wisely led to the decision to twin our city with the granite city of Aberdeen, Scotland. This city is steeped in expertise of all aspects of the oil and gas industry. To help our people acquire similar expertise, Aberdeen and Edinburgh universities are engaged in setting up an oil and gas faculty at the university of Guyana. This is an extremely significant initiative that will be crucial to our people in understanding the complex distribution of the vast oil wealth. There is now a recoverable 5 billion barrels, and a possibility of a further 35 billions.
It was a pleasure for me to see visible signs of excitement at the anticipated transformation of a poor Guyana into a very wealthy one in which, it is said, everyone can aspire to anything. I did not quite agree and urged caution rather than premature excitement and explained my reasons to Mr Case. There is always the possibility of very sharp practices when vast amounts of money are on the table. No one can predict the attitudes of the stronger and more dominant partner, Exxon Mobil. Better to celebrate after banking a fair distribution of the oil wealth. He agreed and then assured me that already in place are institutions to oversee fairness. I also enquired about the degree of criminality that has been a deterrent to us visiting our birthplace. The Commissioner assured me that crime reports have been exaggerated.
Clem and I had a frank exchange of opinions about my disagreement with parts of his speech, the use of certain words and comments about Dr Jagan. Here is not the place to go into great detail, other than to note his surprise that I knew Dr Cheddi Jagan before he (Clem) was born in 1950, and consequently my information about Cheddi was first hand, not from books and other sources.
Let us all hope that this rich source of huge wealth will materialise, and be wisely used to transform our country from its current state to a booming economy, and one that attracts thousands from overseas.
Reginald Debah – Class of 1952