Having been away from the homeland for a month, I might have missed activities to observe – or celebrate – Black History Month (of African Heritage) this February 2009. Or did I?
The Culture Ministry’s African Heritage Museum and the sometimes ubiquitous African Cultural Development Association (ACDA)must have had their usual lectures and grouses (?) – and, I trust, UG should have done something significant. I concede that it is most likely my fault for missing out on that which I always find significant – if not somewhat irritating. But why do I have a “gut feeling” that not much was done to commemorate African achievement? Could it be because of two developments? If I am accurate?
The first could be that globally Black achievement rose to its zenith, symbolically, with the election of a Mulatto Candidate – called African – American – as President of the United States of America. After all, the son of an African Kenyan is now among the most powerful leaders of the world. If not the most powerful politician on the planet.
Or could it conceivably be, secondly, that in the context of Guyana, all race groups of the honest working class are under tremendous survival pressure at this time. Perhaps it might be considered ludicrous to emphasise “African” history, achievement and challenges when all are suffering. Well, I couldn’t support that view as a people’s history, education and pride should be sustained to inspire their youth to greater self-worth and achievement – through understanding after analysis.
So as February 2009 ends, and with my Editor’s (anticipated) indulgence, I present hereunder some past printed thoughts on relevant issues as my three-cents contribution to Black History/African Heritage Month 2009 – Lazily – And Provocatively…
BLACK, AFRICAN, GUYANESE – Musings…
“ACDA is an “ethnic specific” organisation.
I’ve worked it out as follows: “the particular, pointed and specific emphasis on and promotion of a cause or an issue affecting a particular (loved) ethnic group.” A bit unwieldy but largely accurate, I submit. To be “ethnic specific”, I’m sure, means to dedicate your energies and abilities to the defence, development and promotion of a group of your choice and preference. A perfectly legitimate exercise, if you’re not filled with bitterness, negative discrimination – or hate.
As I’ve taught repeatedly: there is absolutely nothing wrong with loving your own kind (a little more than you love others). It’s virtually Nature’s Law. Hindus, Jordanites, Serbs, Rotarians or GDF “batchies” will naturally gravitate to their group. Even like animals and ethnicities do. Be ethnic specific” but don’t discriminate on that basis. That soon becomes racism.”
The land once loved …
After Emancipation – August 1838 – the shrewd former African slaves bought up land from their former owners in Demerara. Their savings from slavery and apprenticeship were astounding! On the Essequibo after Emancipation: “Then proprietary villages emerged, firstly after Planter Carbery on the Essequibo Coast divided up his front lands and sold them to the freed slaves in 1840. He wanted them near to his plantation – as workers. Proprietary villages soon blossomed in many locations where remnants of Plantations were.
Those Africans of the latter villages owned the land, owned their homes and had mortgages and legal documents to prove it. I won’t dwell on the sabotage and destabilization unleashed against African villages and lands here – the legal ruses, the floodings, the increased taxation, the restraints on living on freehold land.
The point I want to emphasise is that today’s African Guyanese must understand that their fore-fathers did respect Land and Agriculture even after the horrors of slavery. But they must also find out just why those Africans eventually turned away from their portion of the patrimony!
From the land to the professions! Why?
Blighted for business? Discrimination?
My regular readers would be aware of the following “provocations” of mine: “Name five sawmills owned by Guyanese of African descent. Identify five AfroGuyanese who import automobiles. Tell me of ten Black Guyanese who are big ricemillers or significant peasant cane-farmers. Write down the names of five firms which import cement, car tyres or potatoes and are owned by African Guyanese or named modern pharmacies, medical laboratories, printeries or advertising agencies owned by Afros.
These are my frequent favourite challenges – and questions I ask of my political Afro-pals. Especially after some protest, riot, demonstration or demand. And especially those organized by political parties or pressure groups. I was fond of asking the African Cultural Development Association (ACDA) those questions too. It was never taunting but my way of provoking Afro-Guyanese and their alleged representatives to consider their “status” ‘n the economic scheme of things in the country.
I have friends and one old newspaper who explain the historical influences and social nature resulting in the “African” indifference to owning, manufacturing and economic management. The newspaper published by Gerald Willabus and Leon Walcott, I believe, outlined “reasons” for Africans’ “inability” to own real significant property or economic bases in Guyana. I would be impressed by only a few of the reasons, as I had felt then that all the history and lessons of Africa and ensuing slavery could not explain why a people could not organize themselves to unlearn negatives and become an economic force instead of mere buyers and consumers. Even if it entailed organized, forceful, confrontational demands of some government.
After historical achievement, what!?
So we discover the might of original achievement by the African and its products which peopled the world. We discover the wonders the African World Diaspora bequeathed to others, who exploited and claimed proprietary ownership of those achievements, then what? Just how did others -Caucasian whites, Asian yellow and brown appropriate everything African, from whence we all began? Should I applaud the wicked skills of these usurpers over the centuries!
Check this sampling from my favourite Source Book: Jesus Christ had to be of African roots. Buddha was Africoid in make-up, as were Fu-Hsi of China, Mohamed the prophet of Islam and Quetzlcoatl of Mexico. The father of medicine, Imhotep was Egyptian/African. Philosophy from Ancient Greece was stolen from Ancient Egypt; Western Civilisation itself is founded on Black African civilizations and the original Jews and Christians were Black People.
Squirm and be outraged all (or some of) you want! At the above. Try to debunk all or any of the above and a debate is on. My everlasting wonderment up to today is – What do African-descended folks do after learning of all that? Afro-Guyanese, Reflect as “your month ends tomorrow.
* 1) A lack-lustre Mash Day Parade? I agree and I understand: that economic challenges put paid to the big spending; and people’s other priorities, no doubt.
For me, it might be time to review our own national emphases on the Republic Anniversary Celebration – Some’mas? More Academic? Intellectual.
* 2) The alleged eye-witness to the Lindo Creek Massacre should be embraced and exposed by The Opposition who should guard and protect him after Investigators validate his claims.
* 3) All due respect to Mash Pioneer, former Lindener Jimmy Hamilton. But I must ask him soon how Original were they in Modifying, Guyanising Trinidad’s Carnival…
* 4) Imagine, the Southern Louisiana (USA) Governor has Indian roots?
* 5) The Home of Mashramani, Linden, has its version on Sunday.
’Til next week!