After Saturday’s “Arrival”
Consider Sunday’s Mothers
Most brief will today’s offering be. First, a fleeting but perhaps provocative flash-back at last week-end’s observance of the 174th anniversary of the arrival in Guyana of people from India.
Yes, there were the usual, now-expected \historical contexts of the coming, arrival, settlement and consequences of the presence of the bound/contracted/indentured coolies here.
From “India-Arrival” groups to political party, to trade union to editorials, all recounted, sometimes from their own peculiar perspectives (and biases), what the Indian contribution has done for this nation and, more importantly for me, what the presence and travails of the Indian immigrants and their descendants, should inspire nationally.
But for me, Frankly Speaking, when I listen to speeches like those delivered last Saturday – Fifth of May – I try to go beyond what words are actually spoken and how the celebratory events are slanted. Of course, celebrations like Arrival Day have to do with who are the key speakers, organizers, players.
Here are perspectives that hit me this year. Three “aspects” or “categories”?
“You’re not the sons of slaves!”
With a little more gusto this year, the government officials went out of their way to reiterate that the May Fifth Arrival Day symbolizes the “arrival” of all post-Emancipation immigrants who found themselves here. (Even the immigrants who were imported before full-freedom on July 31, 1838.)
The government folks would have us accept that we are observing or celebrating the coming of Chinese, Portuguese, Irish, Maltese, Germans who were made to attempt replacement on the plantations. So why May Fifth? Surely you and I know why.
But for me one spin-off of the All-Immigrants perspective is this: that thousands of (free) indentured Africans came to B.G. to (try to) replace their fellow freed Africans! It’s an historical and verifiable fact. So my friends Kofi, Kwesi and Doctor Blackman, your specific forefathers were probably not slaves!
Yes, substantial numbers of Afro-Guyanese today were /are descended from Africans who were never slaves! For further discussion…
Secondly, Arrival Day sometimes threatens to inspire a misguided few to sound so triumphant as to border on triumphalism. Trumpeting 174 years of collective achievement and contribution as to make it appear that the Indo-group alone had what it takes to survive, to prosper, to now own and control. Fortunately, much of what I heard last week-end tended not to be so inaccurate or insensitive, as on previous occasions.
Which brings me to my third aspect.
“Dey own de place, boss”
Admittedly, this snippet reflects my own considerations which I harbour quite frequently. But the articulation came from a taxi driver taking me along Mandela Avenue. When a “BK” Heavy Duty (huge) vehicle delayed his planned overtaking for quite a while.
Said the agitated driver to me: “Bossman, yuh see how dese people control dis place?” I asked for clarification. “BK could do whuh he want pon dis road. Wealth, cash-money kyan done”. I couldn’t follow his unspoken logic. But he was to explain what he meant in citizen-detail. “Tek Toolsie, Gafoor, BK, Shivraj, Muneshwer, Boyer, Ramroop, and de Shoes people – put them together and dey money can own dis country yeh!” I responded by adding a few names of my own – all Indo – who are in commerce, manufacturing, mining, fisheries, auto-imports.
He really liked my contribution to his list, theory and conclusion. Even when I told him – an Indo-Guyanese himself – to spend the next day, Arrival Day, considering just how “those people” managed to be in this position of ownership today.
I gave him hints: tenacity, sacrifice, a positive survival “complex”, favouritism, Burnham – inspired migration, Jagdeo –assistance … Discuss.
Mother’s Day questions…
My only contribution to the American-inspired one-day Mother’s Day this Sunday is to ask our journalists to do something besides the usual, routine and expected (features).
First, locate a “single-parent” mother of six or seven. Describe her status and struggles. Find out how she ended up like that – why two/three fathers? Why no abortions?
Discuss abortion, as experienced by an unfortunate young mom. Ferret out any well-funded, effective safety-nets for such challenged mothers; describe them.
In other words, for/on Sunday, explore the world of Guyana’s needy, poverty-line mothers. Of all ethnicities.
*1) Great stuff! Antigua will not now impose sanctions against the USA! St Johns prefers negotiations.
*2) Lovely advice from a Mark Archer: “The poor don’t need words, they need to be organized”.
*3) The Budget Cuts and consequences are teaching the ordinary citizens quite a lot about the details of how his taxes and his country’s other incomes are managed. Great!
*4) Was ACDA or the Pan African Organisation invited to Arrival Day activities?
*5) Coming soon: From Bechu to Bharrat.
‘Til next week