STATEMENT BY LEADER OF THE PNCR, MR. ROBERT H. O. CORBIN, MP. ON THE OCCASION OF THE 24th DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LATE, PRESIDENT LINDEN FORBES SAMPSON BURNHAM, O.E., S.C., M.P. AT THE MAUSOLEUM, SEVEN PONDS, WEDNESDAY AUGUST 6, 2009




CHAIRPERSON,
MEMBERS OF THE CEC OF THE PNCR,
MEMBERS OF THE BURNHAM FAMILY
MAYOR OF GEORGETOWN,
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

On March 6, 2003, one writer in the Stabroek news, (Mellissa Ifill) stated,

“Few individuals in Guyanese history, more so political history, have generated such controversy as Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham. More over, few individuals have had such a lasting impact on the structure and character of the Guyanese society. For many analysts, respect for his intellectual capacity and achievements and his ability to catapult Guyana into regional and international prominence… Burnham, in both life and death aroused both admiration and scorn, he was revered and ridiculed, perceived as a deity and a demon.”

Since then, we have witnessed the changing perceptions of various writers, including harsh critics, who have come around to recognizing the greatness of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham now that they have had opportunity to compare the alternatives and what has been happening in our dear land of Guyana. Consequently, in the letter column of today’s Kaieteur News, another writer, (Lurlene Nestor) states,

“Those who had set out to demonize Burnham and render his government dictatorial have to review their position in light of the current administration and their management of the state. …. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham’s legacy will live on despite the many attempts to rewrite Guyana’s history without his monumental contribution.”

In this latest letter, the writer identifies how the strident critics of Forbes Burnham and his policies while in Government are now in the process of unashamedly adopting his policies. The recent Grow More Food Campaign, distribution of plant seeds, the construction of the Berbice River Bridge and the hosting of the last CARIFESTA are but a few examples.

Today, on this 6th day of August 2009, we again assemble at this shrine to remember our Founder Leader, to reflect upon his life and his work and to be re-inspired to complete the monumental work he started in moulding a destiny for our beloved nation. As we do so today, we witness with sadness, the criminalization of the state, the unfolding evidence of state sponsored murder, state facilitation of the narcotic trade, the flagrant abuse of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, the manipulation of the media and the flagrant violation of the Guyana Constitution. We must, therefore, take courage from the fact that the struggles for independence, self-determination and self-reliance were not easy, but faced many challenges. Our resoluteness guaranteed our successes.

Today there is universal acceptance that Forbes Burnham was a visionary Leader who was the founding father of an Independent Guyana. His vision to establish an egalitarian society, where all races would enjoy social justice and political and economic emancipation, still eludes us today. We must, therefore, on this Anniversary of his death, resolve to accelerate our efforts to ensure the realisation of his ideals.

It is customary for us to use these commemoration events to focus on various aspects of his contribution to Guyana. Last year we had the privilege to reflect on his contribution to the National Service and, at this very shrine, I reflected on his overall contribution to Guyana. Later today, we will continue that tradition at the Headquarters of the National Congress of Women. I believe, however, that sufficient has already been said and written, by both friend and foe, to assure us that history will judge Forbes Burnham kindly. It is, therefore, no wonder that he was posthumously named “The Caribbean Person of the Century”: an accolade awarded to him after a Caribbean and Caribbean Diaspora poll showed that Caribbean people considered that Burnham had had the greatest impact on Caribbean history in the 20th Century.

Since we last met, I had the privilege of piloting a motion in the National Assembly whereby we ensured national recognition of his contribution to this Nation. It is now evident that no attempt to rewrite history will erase the monumental contribution of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham to Guyana. History, indeed, will absolve him.

MAY HE CONTINUE TO REST IN PEACE AS WE CONTINUE THE STRUGGE HE INITIATED AND BOLDLY LED UNTIL HIS SUDDEN DEPARTURE ON AUGUST 6, 1985.

THANK YOU.

Robert H O Corbin
Place of Seven Ponds
August 6, 2009