These biographies celebrate Guyanese achievement. They detail our origins and how far we have come; the obstacles met and conquered and the successes we have attained great and small.
This website follows two publications on Guyanese achievement – Guyanese Achievers UK and Guyanese Achievers USA & Canada.
Role models for the young are invariably those in the media: tabloid, film and TV celebrities. Surely we should acknowledge the unsung achievers in the public service; those who have attained distinction in their particular field of endeavour – sport, teaching, nursing, social, religious and community services; academia, transport, industry and trade, authors of the arts, sciences, music, dance and drama .
For the benefit of young and inquiring minds, we aim to record for posterity, shining examples of Guyanese achievers past and present. They have set high benchmarks and in one way or another contributed to improving our lives and being a credit to the Guyanese community wherever they be .
We aim to capture something of their fine qualities to illustrate and inspire others who may be daunted by life’s challenges. Longfellow reminds us of the value of such achievers in his poem “A Psalm Of Life”
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.
This work attempts to share the experiences of those whose inspirational lives and accomplishments are not widely known outside their immediate circle , as Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” so eloquently declares:
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
In these pages we have recorded success achieved through hard work. Longfellow, in “The Ladder of Saint Augustine” expressed it thus:
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
What makes an achiever? Is there an ‘achievement’ gene linked to the country Guyana? A microcosm of the world, with all its ingredients of heritage and culture, rich in variety, confluent in Guyana’s small cosmopolitan population?
Factors that probably contribute to their drive and focus may include the shared background of very modest means, an education of strict discipline resulting in top grades, the value of their goals and respect of their elders in the family and a strong sense of belonging to the larger community, be it a village, sugar plantation or part of a town.
Achievers’ DNA appears to contain components best described in the following quotation from a speech given by Sir Arthur Lewis, the internationally renowned economist and Nobel Laureate, at his installation as Chancellor of the University of Guyana, on January 25th 1967.
“Excellence is achieved not only by intellect; it derives even more from character. As the old saying goes, ‘ genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains’. To achieve excellence, one must have self-discipline; to practice the same thing over and over again, while others are enjoying themselves; to push oneself from the easy part to the hard part; to listen to criticism and use it; to reject one’s own work and try again. Only the humble achieve excellence; since only the humble can learn. Excellence also implies reliability; whatever you do is well done, so that others coming after you can rely on what you have done. In the university we build character no less than brain; since brain without character achieves nothing.”
Perhaps a significant component of Guyanese achievers’ DNA is to be found right at home with the subliminal driving force in these stirring, uplifting, inspirational words of Reverend Hawley Bryant’s “The Song of Guyana’s Children” which we sing as school children:
Born in the land of the mighty Roraima.
Land of great rivers and far stretching sea;
So like the mountain, the sea and the river
Great, wide and deep in our lives would we be;
Onward, upward, may we ever go,
Day by day in strength and beauty grow,
Till at length we each of us may show,
What Guyana’s sons and daughters can be.
We acknowledge with grateful thanks the kind words of praise and encouragement and the contributions and approvals given to us for producing the profiles which appear in the website. We are grateful for the joy of a rewarding journey about the rich, varied and inspiring experiences of the lives of our Guyanese Achievers.