Living in Guyana makes one very aware (I have written about this, as have others) that we simply don’t know many aspects of our country’s history that are essential to propelling us to see it in terms of unity as opposed to division.
The sudden transformations in societies – email, cell phones – are often the result of an equipment revolution, and we spot them quickly; the slower transformations occur so slowly that we don’t even notice the shift until some sudden circumstance makes us aware.
Sometimes, epiphanies come in pairs. A few months ago, for example, after a lovely evening with visiting poet John Agard and his wife Grace Nichols (plus a few local pals) I had this epiphany where I realized how lucky I am in the number of enchanting friends I have living abroad (Henry Muttoo, Vic Fernandes, Vibert Cambridge, Clive Rosteing, Terry Ferreira) plus, and almost simultaneously, I had the second epiphany – that I owe the friendship of those people to the music I’ve created over the years.
As West Indies cricket reels again from yet another debacle on the field, the clamours are naturally out again for the sacking of the present West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and for the restructuring of the body governing the sport.
I’m a think-positive guy, not from some Pollyanna position, but largely because that’s how my mind works. In every place I’ve lived I’ve known people who are perpetual grousers – every time you meet them, whatever the occasion, immediately after the “hello”, they launch into the latest complaint, the latest project gone wrong, the latest big name caught with his/her hand in the till; the latest political shocker.
One of the shocks for people new to Guyana is the frenetic driving behaviours on our roads – drivers cutting in and out of traffic; driving in the opposing lane to get ahead of traffic; obviously intoxicated drivers; ignoring stop signs; running red lights – the list goes on.
Someone approached me out of the blue this week outside a store on Sheriff Street to ask for advice on the music business; he was not a musician, but interested in recording and was wondering how to proceed.
One of the things that emerged with renewed vigour during the run-up to the recent elections, and continuing since, is the argument that Guyana must address the dilemma of the ethnic divide that is hanging like a millstone around the country’s collective neck.
Recent returnees to the homeland may not know this, but longtime dwellers who have endured through successive Guyanese governments will tell you that finding the person responsible for a particular aspect in the various departments set up to serve us is an almost impossible task.
Guyanese under 30 years of age will likely have no knowledge of it, but there was a time in our country when there was a ritual, common in many of the middle class homes, that involved the process of bringing wood floors to a shine by buffing them by hand using wax.
It was talked about frequently during the years I lived in the Cayman Islands, but it hasn’t happened yet. I know there is also great concern about it in Barbados, but I don’t think it has come about there either.
In recent years, in an effort to diversify its economic base, Guyana has been putting increasing emphasis on improving and expanding its tourism industry, a push to which the private sector has responded and from which some results are already apparent – sport fishing in the Rupununi; various bird-watching tours around the country; foreign yachts in the Essequibo, etc.