Newspaper: Guardian
Date: Saturday, March 24, 2007
Page#: G-Life 37
News Reporter: Oscar Ramjeet

US president to lead discussion on Diaspora .

The Caribbean diaspora is growing from strength to strength so much so that the role of the diaspora is one of the topics listed for discussion when Caricom Heads of Government meet US President George W Bush and his top aides at the White House between June 19 and 21. Last month, Calypso King of the World Francisco Slinger, the Mighty Sparrow, told me in an exclusive interview in Florida that the diaspora can play a very important role in assisting to develop the region.

However, another musical legend, Dave Martins of the Trade Winds, feels that the diaspora are not allowed to play the part which they would like to play. He said that they are being shut out.

The Guyanese-born singer in an exclusive interview at his office in Georgetown, Cayman Islands, told me that he tried on several occasions to assist the country of his birth, but it seems as if some of his countrymen are putting up a barrier because they feel threatened that their glory and honour would be reduced or curtailed. This, he said, is unfortunate because he wants to give and not to take. Many of them told him that "they stay and bun and the diaspora cut and run".

He added that many Guyanese see him and other members of the diaspora grouping as outsiders who want to interfere.

The well-known Caribbean entertainer said he has no doubt that the diaspora from other states and territories in the Caribbean are viewed in the same light.

The national awardee, who no doubt copped the Golden Arrow of Achieve-ment (AA) award for his tune Not a Blade a Grass", said that he and others are not allowed to give back to the community which he said is very disturbing.

He pointed out that he was invited to participate in the 40th anniversary of Guyana's independence last May in which he wrote a full length musical on Guyana's achievement after nationhood, and he was surprised to hear some adverse comments like "why bring Dave Martins from abroad for our celebrations" - thus branding him as a foreigner. The unfortunate comments were made despite the fact that the programme was a tremendous success because of his presence and contribution.

Despite this, the 71-year-old artiste said "I still want to contribute to my country".

He said, "it is regrettable that the more successful and outstanding the overseas-based Guyanese are, the more they are being marginalized". Some make statements like "you come back from outside, you think you better than we?"

It seems as if Guyanese and other Caribbean nationals prefer their relatives to send monthly remittances to them rather than trying to assist in a more practical manner.

Asked whether he would like to return to Guyana to settle, he responded that like most Guyanese, he is reluctant because of the crime, lack of medical facilities, water and electricity situation and other problems.

After leaving Guyana, Dave lived in Canada, and Barbados before moving to the Cayman Islands where he now works with the Government of that British Overseas Dependant Territory as the Executive Director of the Pirates Week National Festival. In addition his band, the Trade Winds, is still entertaining large crowds.