L.F.S. Burnham, a Fitting Role-model for Rastafari Youths of Guyana
Date: Thursday, March 17 @ 20:55:36 UTC
It is very important that we as Rastafari youths start seeking out and emulating the positive role models that have lived and are still living among us. One man who plumply falls into this category is our late L.F.S. Burnham, the Haile Selassie I of Guyana. The Rastafari community locally, with all due respect to brethren and sistren who are trying relentlessly to lift our people out of the morass of economic, cultural and political subjugation, lacks positive role models.
The image of the rastaman portrayed in Guyana is just another ploy by the colonialists to keep our people bastardized, badmanish, ghetto-styled and uninterested in politics, economics and social rights and issues. It is also an inferiority syndrome which the system of slavery left us as a legacy.
The Rastafari man contrary to popular belief is not a badman, thief or gangster. He is, according to our own Eusi Kwayana, "a man of astonishing presence. In this country Guyana, where the movement is perhaps weakest and most misrepresented... the Rastaman is typically male. He is a public figure, a picture of self confidence and self assurance. He is quick-witted and philosophical, flaunting his striking simplicity and peculiarity of dress in the face of cosmopolitan pretensions of Babylon fashion. He exudes love. His conversation is lively verse. His replies are razor-sharped repartee. His world outlook is a duality of the material and the spiritual, the positive and the negative. His religious aspiration is total absorption into the being of [Haile Selassie I]."
Rastafari is a liberation Theology which hinges on the teaching of Haile Selassie I and is guided by the contributions and efforts of other African leaders. Politically, our late President L.F.S. Burnham subscribed to these teachings and used them as the foundation upon which he built his political career. L.F.S. Burnham, though he was of African descent, biologically and ideologically, he was a man of the people, a father of his nation in the very same way Haile Selassie I , an African leader of the highest caliber, championed the cause of his people. In a footnote to an internal memorandum circulated by the All African Guyanese Council, it is stated, "Here in Guyana the African involvement in the political economy can be divided into four distinct stages: slavery; villiage movement; colonial; post-colonial- Jagan, Burnham, Hoyte, Jagan to Jagdeo. Of these eras arguably, two stand out as the most outstanding in which attempts were made to correct the negation of our essence, the era of the 'Villiage Movement' and the Burnham era.
The villiage movement is now nothing more than a subject of academic inquiry by a few and Burnham is forgotten. Pity a nation that allows the greatest among it to simply fade into oblivion. The Rastafari youths of Guyana are determined that such a stalwart of the African struggle must and will be remembered and revered wherever and whenever we meet. L.F.S. Burnham is one of the few Heads of State of the Caribbean region ,where most Blacks are concentrated, to visit Haile Selassie I in Ethiopia. He had fostered this desire from since the earlier days of his career when Haile Selassie I by his magnanimous deeds attracted the attention of the world, particularly the Black world.
Burnham's opportunity came following the 3rd NAM Summit held in Lusaka on 8-10 September, 1970. While returning from the summit, L.F.S. Burnham decided to visit his political icon. Although the facts of Burnham's visit to H.I.M. Haile Selassie I are never discussed in intellectual circles, not even among black Guyanese, it is a visit that holds tremendous importance to Rastafari in Guyana. On his return , Burnham was brave and wise enough to implement some of what he had learnt from his visit to Ethiopia. And it is because of this, we hail him as a standing figure, an ennobled leader of the African struggle.