The Honourable Prime Minister Samuel Hinds has given us, in a rare intervention of its kind, the benefit of his views on the call for shared governance and the Afro-Guyanese situation (SN letter of April 27 “So long as rigged elections ….by another name”). There is a lot to note in his letter for it reveals more than what the Prime Minister may have actually intended. First, the PM’s message is disappointingly clear: the salvation for Afro-Guyanese lies in cleansing our collective soul of the sins of PNC rigging by begging pardon, then in following through by proudly voting for PPP. If one follows the thought process of the PM, this sin of the Afro-Guyanese population has caused it to lose all rights to governing the country of their birth.
The fact that he adoringly refers to Dr Cheddi Jagan no fewer than twelve times in his letter (and to President Bharrat Jagdeo only once) amply illustrates where Mr Hinds’ heart may actually be. The PM seems caught up in nostalgia and harks back for a PPP of a different era, not for the current PPP. He revealingly admits therefore that “One senses a great loss in the early death of Cheddi, before he could have evolved a good response to ease those fears of many Afro-Guyanese and which form fertile ground for calls such as that from Ogunseye.“ How else can one interpret this statement than as an outright confession that the PPP, since the death of Dr Jagan, has failed to address the “fears” of Afro-Guyanese.
Others can better comment on the PM’s apparent forgetfulness about the presence of many Afro-Guyanese in a number of organizations, such as the WPA, that fought against the so-called PNC dictatorship. Many will therefore seethe over his statement that Ogunseye’s acknowledgement of rigged elections under the PNC may be the first such made “unreservedly, openly and publicly by someone who may be considered a spokesman for Afro-Guyanese.” The PM may want to hurriedly back-pedal on this outrageous claim, as it comes across as an attempt to credit Afro-Guyanese with nothing in terms of political struggle.
In fact, these very people and organizations may justifiably take credit for the PPP and its Prime Minister being in the seat of government today. This is not the way to thank them.
PM Hinds obviously wants to have cake and bake at the same time. While he admits that “a very large number of Afro-Guyanese were already unhappy” as early as 1973 with rigging, he nevertheless believes that Afro-Guyanese should be apologizing, begging pardon and pleading because of the actions of the PNC in the past. I have always wondered how this mass apology is to be made. Should thousands of us gather on the Square of the Revolution and bellow after the cue “we are sorry that the PNC rigged!”? Or should we take out a series of full-page newspaper ads? And after the mass soul cleansing, what happens? Will Guyana magically be a better place? The PM is suggesting yes, if we put ourselves at the mercy of the PPP.
This is not to trivialize Indian hurts and insecurities. The idea behind shared governance in a multi-ethnic society such as ours is to address all hurts and insecurities of all races, but in a highly structured and comprehensive manner.
An intrinsically race-conscious, personalized, and egoistic party such as PPP cannot hope to wash away the multi-ethnic identity of Guyana.
In fact, no party can. Ethnic identity is ingrained in each of us, whether we are Amerindians, Indians, Blacks or whatever. The one-race-take-all system exacerbates our diversity by promoting deep conflict. The narco-criminalization of the state, government corruption, ministerial incompetence, a struggling economy and executive lawlessness only compound the problem for all citizens regardless of race.
We need a system that achieves unity in diversity, a system that harnesses the best talents and energies of all groups in an environment in which they feel involved. That is what the fight is all about.