Our 1823 Monument
So It Go
On civic matters in Guyana, while there are often opportunities for discussion or exchange, we have a marked tendency to eschew that route and simply make pronouncements. The views of one side appear as a pronouncement, and the opposite view, or views, will likewise subsequently appear as a counter pronouncement. Once set in motion, the pronouncement approach operates like a square wheel (excuse the oxymoron; it pertains) where nothing turns. Nowhere do the litigants appear to be giving consideration to the other view; no possibility of rapprochement emerges. It becomes like Parliament; positions harden; polarization takes hold. These comments therefore, on the location of Ivor Thom’s monument to the 1823 slave uprising, are delivered not as pronouncements but as considerations.
My first comment is that the compartmentalizing or ownership aspect of the issue, on both sides, has rapidly taken hold and a political football is inevitably being pumped up. Unless our “one nation” motto is merely rhetorical, all Guyanese are owners of all of our history. Anything that has happened in this country from the time our forefathers came here is my history, benign or malignant. I claim it as my own. It is part of who I am, and how I think, and how I feel. We should refrain from making claims on the past based on ethnic stances. Knowing, however, the power of cultural positions, I concede that there may be instances (1823; 1867; Enmore Martyrs) where a particular group may have more powerful feelings about those events, but overall consideration must also be clearly in play. All the complexity that has happened here is ours. Tangentially, among the reasons drawing me and others to Guyana is that very mosaic of African, Indian, Asian, European and Amerindian mix that gives us the striking kaleidoscope this culture is. Certainly, other countries have it, but the Guyanese version, flawed as it is, remains special and unique to us. You cannot find quite this mix anywhere else.
Beyond that, however, there are two more pertinent aspects to this monument-location matter. One is the point, raised elsewhere by Ivor Thom (KN Jan 11) and others, about the need for open space and clear lines of sight surrounding massive works of art. One can cite, for example, the impact of the Washington Monument in the USA that owes significantly to the large space it commands. The open mall around it provides for persons to stand hundreds of yards away taking in a stirring view of the obelisk against the clear sky beyond. But we don’t have to go that far. Right here in Guyana, we have the principle clearly displayed in the presentation of Philip Moore’s Cuffy sculpture in Georgetown. The power of Philip’s creation is a given, but the elucidation of that into public spectacle and appreciation rests totally on the …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.