Two of the foremost Guyanese intellectuals in the UK, have expressed shock that the London High Commission-er's panel did not select their nominee for the recent Guyana High Commission (UK) awards.
Ambassador David Dabydeen, professor of Warwick University and Professor Clem Seecharran of London Metropolitan Univer-sity had nominated journalist John Mair for an award.
The Awards, popularly called 'The Lals', took place last month and were the third since 2001. Mair was not among the 11 recipients. Guyana's London High Com-missioner Laleshwar Singh has since written to Mair to "commend your efforts in contributing to the image and esteem of the Guyanese Diapsora in the UK" and assured him that his details would be "kept on file."
Professor Seecharran, whose book on Jock Campbell has been lauded throughout the Caribbean was fulsome in his praise for his nominee.
He told the selection committee: "As a co-ordinator of forums for intellectual engagement and as a journalist of high repute, John is certainly the foremost Guyanese seeking to bring Guyana to Guyanese in the UK. By articulating the achievements of Guyanese, he is creating potential role models for people of Guyanese descent here. His profiles of such major achievers constitute a fount of immense pride that redounds to the credit of Guyanese everywhere. It is also highly admirable that he consciously projects the diversity of Guyana's social composition: John's Guyana is colour-blind. He has lived in the UK for many years, but I can say without reservation that when it comes to Guyana there is no ambiguity, no vacillation, in his love and commitment. His sense of belonging is inviolable; it sustains his work for Guyana."
Seecharran, himself a GHC (UK) awardee in 2003, has since pronounced himself "amazed" at Mair's omission from the recent list.
Professor Dabydeen, another awardee (in 2001) and Guyana's Ambassador at Large and to UNESCO, also declared his amazement at the decision to omit Mair. He told the Stabroek News: "I nominated John Mair for a High Commission award because he is Guyana's most experienced and distinguished journalist (print and television) in Britain, with a vast range of media contacts who can be of help to Guyana.
"When he and I first dreamed up these awards in Georgetown in 2000, it was not to reward ourselves but others in the UK who had achieved. John has done just that over the past five years from driving through the initial awards to consistently highlighting the UK diaspora to the folks back home and has shown himself worthy of an award. He has served journalism well in Guyana too. I was pleased to nominate him for an award I was very surprised that the selection panel chose not to heed the nomination of myself, Professor Clem Seecharran and many other prominent UK Guyanese."
Among those in the UK Diaspora also believed to have nominated Mair for this year's awards are retired architect Vidur Lekh Chandra Dindayal, Colleen Harris of the CRE and Sir Dexter Hutt, the Birmingham headmaster born in Guyana who was himself on the 2006 'Lals' list.
The next 'Lals' will be held in 2007 or 2008.