My usual, annual emancipation blues …But thank Heavens for Sam Hinds?
Frankly Speaking… By A.A. Fenty
I nearly wrote “Ho-Hum”. Because it’s Emancipation time again!
I cannot allow my cynicism, my impatience and levity to prevail. For the issues surrounding this yearly ethnic-specific observance are quite serious, with numerous implications. Especially the impetus Emancipation Day gathered after Cheddi Jagan and his administration took hold of national affairs near the end of 1992.
Post-1992 re-awakened intense “realizations” about the 1838 Full Freedom and the development, challenges, status and “intimidations” of African Guyanese after 1992. Man! The garments, the drums, the drama, the village histories have been ratcheted up yearly since then. To what purpose? What objectives achieved? As a specific group and portion of the population? One point sticks with me coming from the articulation of a Ms Marshall from ACDA (the African Cultural Development Association of Guyana) three/four “emancipations” ago. Said she: “if there had been no Emancipation, there would have been no Arrival Day!”
Simply profound? Obvious? She was, of course, indicating the implications of Emancipation – meaning that the slaves’ 1834–1838 freedom compelled the European plantocracy to move to Asia and Portugal for urgent necessary sugar plantation labour. Hence the demography of Guyana today. I wonder: since slavery could never have continued endlessly, would it not have been inevitable for some others to join the Amerindians, Europeans and Africans here? I suppose so, but not in the numbers which resulted in the population proportions we have today. Suffice to note: Emancipation had/has implications for all of us.
I don’t “fool” myself however. I’ll deal with Stanley Cooke’s ethnic-specific perspective. Simply meaning I’ll use another page, or a little more space, to repeat the blues and impatience I experience at this time of year. As my Afro-friends observe and actually celebrate….
To put it in the context of myself, I personalize two paragraphs.
Personal? Well, growing up in Alberttown, Georgetown with a mixed “red” grandmother I knew little of father or mother. Far less of an absentee Madrasi mother. My childhood experiences and memories were/are decidedly more “Afro”. What’s that? Well physically “Indian” as I look, I know precious little of my Indian heritage. Forgive the expression, but I tended to be “black-minded”. As I matured, I was exposed to our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural pros and cons. I am glad to report that arising from my mostly urban childhood and later life as a young teacher in the country-side, I became conscious of race but never racist.
Taken into the confidence of groups and individuals from both “ethnicities”, I learnt so much of their respective biases – and open or benign racism.
Funny, I’ll leave it for another column, but despite their respective religions, cultural practices and preferences, I found that, back then, there really was no deep-seated, rabid, lasting racism on either side. Things have probably changed. And I won’t even disclose which of the two sides I sensed could be more “racial”. However, I never experienced “polarization”.
Blues? My regular readers already know my mantras, my grouse. So I’ll be brief this time. After the soirees and the festivals, what?
Past 60 as I am, I still like the soiree, the folk songs and food – the sport; but as I’ve asked elsewhere: where are your Afro-Captains of industry? In their significant numbers!? Has some anti-Black Administration been the sole reason why my “blues” make me lament no Afro-Guyanese ownership of a Pharmacy chain? A tinned juice plant? Large import agency of vehicles or hardware? More than five sawmills or lemonade factories? More than one commercial bank? I’m sure you’re accustomed to my repeated concern. What is to be done?
But it’s another year and I tire. David Hinds wants Secondary Schools in Buxton once more. “Dignity” may come before, but I wish them the schools too.
By mobilizing for ACDA’s old Unit Trust Fund and latterly (2006), Eric Phillips’ African Business Council (ABC) to become active successful economic initiatives. And can’t Afro-Guyanese resources from the Diaspora be mobilized for local ethnic – specific uses? Discuss.
Look given sometimes to too much levity, I tended to be facetious about this issue, but then certain friends and at least two serious media acquaintances intoned: professional Afro- Guyanese seem to be an endangered species!
No, I can’t agree with that fully. But, fairly frequently, one aspect of representation, status, achievement and image, yes image, hits me hard. Mind you it might just be time and circumstance, but the pictures, literally, tell some story. What am I going on about?
Well, in many media exposures – Bank openings, Guysuco events, NARI, Hydromet Dept, cell-phone outlets, Berbice Bridge, Education Officers our Diplomats, Private Sector Luncheons, Kaieteur Park, Et Al – I seem to see only one of our race-groups pre-dominating! More than the other four or five combined! But let me cease this – and thank heavens for the physical presence of our ubiquitous Prime Minister Samuel Archibald Hinds. He is there – for “us”. Frequently. Yes Sam smilingly represents!(?)
Lots to ponder…
*1) I’m relieved. Not because the Civil Defence Commission has a months–old Flood Response Plan. No. That the President is against racism – and those who promote it.
*2) Somehow, I agree with UNAIDS Mr. Del Prado. Too much American Dollars go, disproportionately, to HIV-AIDS awareness.
*2b) What! Public Servants can stay home seven days? For “Flu”?
*3) 2007 was observed as the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. 2011 will be the Year for People of African Descent. Do the relevant “beneficiaries” benefit? Or monuments only?
*4) Saudi-born Shukrijumah with Guyanese father and passport. America says he is a wanted top terrorist. Al Jazeera TV last Sunday might showed me its correspondent in our Berbice! He was reporting to the world our high rate of suicides! My Guyana being known for all the wrong reasons.
*5) “When mih go home, mih go tell mih moomah she
Victoria Marrid to German man,
German man buddy, German man,
Victoria marrid to German man”
Happy Emancipation reflections.
‘Til next week!