Why isn’t the National Library named after Sir V.S. Naipaul
There was an address in Buxton to celebrate Emancipation Day 2022. Not one of the speakers made even an infinitesimal reference to a government in which power resided in the president, David Granger, an African Guyanese who proclaimed Forbes Burmham as his hero and set up four foundations in Burnham’s name at his private residence.
The second in command was a colonel in the army who was chief of military intelligence during the presidency of Forbes Burnham. Included in the Cabinet of Mr. Granger was former Commissioner of Police, Mr. Winston Felix. One of Mr. Granger’s advisors was a former head of the army, Edward Collins.
One WPA senior, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine was in the Granger Cabinet. Another WPA senior, Clive Thomas, held two seminal portfolios – head of the anti-corruption unit named SARA and head of GuySuCo. Many senior PNC functionaries were in the Cabinet. Many former military officers occupied real power positions in the state.
Against this background of compelling realities, if you were from another planet, you would not have known that the above listed personalities commanded state power as recent as two years ago. Attendees were told that Black people owed “payback” for the role played in developing Guyana. Any academic that respects his/her education must ask why that “payback” was not delivered when those personalities listed above were in power as recent as two years ago.
Now here is an interesting part of the emanations from that evening in Buxton last Sunday. The attendees were told that African Guyanese leaders must do an analysis of African communities that are not getting their share of the national wealth and compose a plan for recouping such.
Two analytical rebuttals stare you in the face when that statement is studied. Why African Guyanese must put faith in their leaders to draft an economic balance-sheet of needs and wants when those very leaders were in power from 1964 to 1992 and from 2015 to 2020 and these very African political leaders were shouting about equal treatment months after they lost power in 2020? In other words are you sticking with a wicketkeeper who has back pain and cannot bend behind the wicket?
Why people in Guyana think that there aren’t Indian and Amerindian communities that are as in need of their share of the national wealth just as there are African? Guyana may be riveted by ethnic strife but Karl Marx’s emphasis on class structure still holds theoretical efficacy in the analysis of societal wealth. There are poor Indians in Guyana that need to share in oil money as any other ethnic community.
In all the deliveries at Buxton Sunday night, in all the sermons condemning two years of the Ali presidency, in all the torrential accusations of poor governance, in all the volcanic eruptions of discriminatory cries, the fact is, the unadulterated fact remains that as recent as 2020, there were 7000 retrenched sugar workers with a figure of 42,000 dependents that were deprived of their share of the national wealth.
You listen to the emanations at Buxton last Sunday and if you came from another planet, you would not believe that the leaders that are being asked to document the level of inequalities were the very leaders who deprived 42,000 Guyanese of the right to earn a living. It is as if only one section of this nation is in need of reclamation and sustenance. The analysis of the political economy of Guyana does support this jumbie logic.
If one examines the rhetoric of Buxton last Sunday, there were subliminal moments and Freudian yearnings of mo fyaah/slo fyaah. Let’s point to two examples. One speaker noted that you cannot expect peace if you do not have equality and if the government does not dialogue with the opposition then the government will have the dialogue imposed on them.
Then the gathering was told if the government doesn’t bring African leaders to the table, African Guyanese will “knock the hole out of the table. One pressing question has to be asked; who is we? It certainly cannot be African Guyanese for two reasons.
One is the era of charismatic PNC leaders who had the totality of support from the African population is gone. African Guyanese, the majority of which are under 45 years of age do not see the present crop of African leaders as trustworthy. It is for this reason they must question the betrayal from 2015 to 2020.
Secondly the era of mo fyaah/slo fyaah is gone. It had a particular context in 1997 which cannot be repeated in 2025. Young African Guyanese are not going to impose no conversation on anyone or put any hole in any table.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)