Soon. Soon it’ll be twenty years since I’ve been permitted to share my man-in-the-street, working-class, biased views through this medium. I give profuse thanks.
But over the last months, unlike nearly-paranoid, commentators, I tire of our society’s negatives. I’m not that escapist, but the overwhelming stress does get to me when I can’t experience – even create – more good than (national) backwardness stress or mischief.
I succumb briefly today to share my strong frank views expressed to a friend born in Africa, who also lived in other societies before “anchoring” in Guyana for quite a few years now. He was/is so concerned and upset over Guyanese seeming indifference to, perhaps acceptance of whatever “the authorities” throw at them. My African-born friend would daily wonder why Guyanese – from voter to political activists to un-employed and employed poor – do not consistently protest injustice for sustained periods. He sees the Guyanese workers just plodding on, without any outrage at the treatment routinely meted out to them and state entities.
My “foreign friend” keeps needling me about reports of executive lawlessness in our Parliament, our ministries, whenever power and authority reside over us. He seems exasperated over our benign, docile response to those who do not regard our worth after elections, but merely exploit our collective poverty, need and fear. He sees only a few social activists trying to highlight wrongs – whether obvious our perceived. And he is only mildly impressed with the sporadic demonstrations, largely ineffective, and the far-too-few Linden-type, large-scale protests.
Where he was born and in such societies as, say, Jamaica, New York, Europe and now the Arab world, communities come out to air grievances and demand effective attention – especially from those elected to serve and deliver. Elsewhere, he tells me, local communities protest, PTAs march to the “authorities”, trade unions are relentless defending workers and responsible opposition never let up with strategies on behalf of its constituency. But not in Guyana, he claims.
Why is this seemingly so? Why don’t Guyanese go vocally and visibly public with their grievances? Patiently, I offered my friend my own reasons and views. They dawned on me in recent years. (You-all don’t have to agree of course. Just contemplate and discuss.)
Wrongs, contempt, response(s)
Choose the past four decades: the last 20 years of the PNC rule and the first 20 of this regime in its various manifestations. Here is my own conclusion, from observation, being in “the belly of the beast” and simple utterances and national behaviour from my countrymen.
Beginning with Forbes Burnham’s driven determination to make us produce and eat our own products, his prolonged restrictions on imports, which made many of us break laws and spawn an underground economy; to the “benign, but iron fisted autocracy”, Guyanese found not-so-subtle, non-public ways to get back at governmental abuse and contempt.
Public servants dared not protest too loudly. As obtains now, most non-PNC trade unions were compromised and made toothless then. There were even physical, pro-government enforcers! People protested, voted with their feet. They fled in migration. Hundreds of thousands took their brains and pride with them. But even Desmond Hoyte’s liberal corrections did not stop the remaining electorate from voting for change in 1992.
So fast-forward to Mr Jagdeo’s reign and Christmas 2012. What’s the score? How are people – the honest, law-abiding, but deprived – coping, and responding to official, executive injustice?
Well, I told my puzzled enquiring friend, this is how. The various ways: Since there is reluctance to take to the streets; to prolong strikes because of need and fear, many workers take example from state and corporate executives – and steal! You check every entity – from the Office of the President, to the police force, to the corporation, to the church and club, there has been some form of fraud and theft.
To me, frankly speaking, that is one non-public form of protest at officialdom’s mistreatment. It is wrong, immoral and illegal. But for those over-worked, underpaid employees whose morality and values have changed, they are “following the leaders,” they feel. Thus, the pervasive sub-culture of thieving, corruption and immorality in our land! My view. Discuss…
Christmas, corruption – and the committee
What do you think of this scenario which unfolded in a little Island-State a few Christmases ago?
The Deputy CEO of the Island’s Export and Trade Corporation was exposed, by the book keeping discovery by a junior employee for misappropriating massive funds from the corporation to an account belonging to his sister–in-law who, in turn, by “internal” arrangement, supplied the corporation with certain minor services. The expose was brought to the attention of the independent press.
The political opposition celebrated with the ruling party all that Christmas offered. The obviously guilty deputy CEO was a member of the ruling party’s Central Executive Committee but he had relatives in the Central Committee of a minor opposition party too and the Island’s Ombudsman was his cousin!
Question: How did the guilty deputy CEO spend that Christmas?
A Red- And Blue Christmas
Talk, protest ‘til y’all drop. Nothing substantial for Linden yet; the Marriott proceeds; no public results of inquiries into public theft; “they get most of the new radio stations; you get a measly 5%; the “falls” and the canal are both suspect; and Clico and the NIS are “their business”. Others? Reduced (happily) to thievery!
How was South Africa, President Yarde?
Go to the masquerade lives events over this weekend.
Catch A.A. Fenty’s creole Christmas Radio Series – VOG Radio – 8:30am Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
Til next week!