When the textbook photocopying scandal broke in 2012, then opposition parliamentarian, now Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo rightfully called for a probe. Nagamootoo said that the then PPP government’s decision to authorize hundreds of millions of dollars for payment of photocopied textbooks was tantamount to the government “openly encouraging Guyanese to steal”. Nagamootoo was in order.
Fast forward to 2015. The newly minted APNU+AFC government runs a competition to decide a logo for Guyana’s 50th independence anniversary. The winning entry was announced on Friday. It has emerged that the logo chosen is a poor knock off of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary logo from 2012. The logo chosen is poor and has been widely criticized, mocked and ridiculed. That reason alone should cause the Ministry of Education to reconsider the decision. However for the simple reason that the logo is a knock off, and perhaps a case can be made that it is a breach of copyright, it should be rescinded and a new logo commissioned. The Jamaica 50 logo used the doctor bird (a type of hummingbird) with the 50 in a specific orientation. The Guyana 50 logo replaces the doctor bird with the jaguar and the 50 is in an almost identical orientation. Quite frankly, the designers were shameless in copying. This amounts to nothing more than lazy, opportunistic copy cat work. It having been selected by the government is an endorsement of that behavior. Is it not tantamount to the government “openly encouraging Guyanese to steal”? It has also been revealed that one of the logos which is favoured by many but which was not selected is also a knock off of another logo. That logo too should be discarded. In fact all entries from the competition should be discarded.
Design competitions are a notoriously poor method of choosing high quality logos. Competitions are done ostensibly to encourage public participation in the process. The best designers often view such competitions as beneath them and therefore competitions, from their very inception rule out most of the cream of the crop as those persons have no interest. Further the prize money in this instance (GY$150,000) was miniscule, hardly tempting for the better graphic designers in this country to set aside their day-to-day work (which earns them far more) to spend time on conceptualizing a logo for the 50th anniversary. A design competition is good for a village council logo, a school or community logo but for a national logo as important as a nation’s historic 50th independence anniversary the preferred option is to hand pick one of the premier designers or a small group of designers to collaboratively work together in providing either one option for the politicos to consider or a few for them to choose from.
However a proper logo for Guyana’s 50th is determined, the one currently being paraded as the official logo is mired in controversy and rejection. For the APNU+AFC government to plough ahead with it will be enforcing two things, neither of which, will endear it to the public: (i) that it has no difficulty giving official sanction to persons stealing and copying other people’s creative work (just as the PPP did) (ii) that it cares little for the views of the public and will belligerently press on with its agenda regardless of the public outcry (just as the PPP did) We know how the script ended for the PPP which did things its way and never relented to or cared for the voice of the people. The APNU+AFC government ought to learn from that lesson. It is not too late for them to redeem themselves. The decent and right thing needs to be done.