During the launching of APNU in Linden, Rupert Roopnaraine made mention of an earlier movement for national unity (1953) but said that this APNU formation is one with a difference in that it remains open to one and all – excluding none. And in my mind I honestly think that the time has come for a different season, a different kind of political arrangement that can bring about a more meaningful balance in the way we do things.
It should be one that can assuage the tension and suspicion of racism; that will address the fear and mistrust and take us towards a new horizon. It is too much of a burden for a nation to keep trudging along the path of a past that has not been gracious to them, and still swings like a pendulum back and forth feeding on old wounds.
It is obvious that the race divide remains a shackle that prevents us from genuinely reaching across; thus we remain “prisoners of our own device.”
Thus in no way will we be able to realise a common destiny if our actions do not conform to the things we say. Our binary political movement that revolves on an ethnic turret and which emerged with two dominant personalities – Cheddi Jagan/PPP and Forbes Burnham/PNC – whom our two major races rallied around, have outlived their time. They had their fair share of ups and downs and commendable achievements, and our people worshiped them and even treated them like demigods. Say what you will, I think that they both were remarkable personalities who sprang from among us, had a fine run, did their task and departed, and that is a period which has gone and is not coming back.
Their works indelibly imprinted will remain in our history books, on our political landscape and for a time in the hearts of those who saw or heard them. And I honestly think that they both from where they are would love to see their dream and the struggle they left, blossom into a united people.
We are indeed a people of different physical make-up, skin tones, hair, facial features and behaviours, whose ancestors came from different parts of the earth, and whose cultures were different.
We cannot wish that away, and therefore have to recognize it as part of our Guyaneseness, since it represents inborn ethnic patterns that none of us can deny. After all, we cannot unzip ourselves out of our skin; this is the scenario of our six different peoples.
It follows then that we need to respect each other for what we are, respect each unique quality and if needs be, copy the good values each possess. We should be genuine and less contemptuous and arrogant, regarding our physical differences as secondary to that which principally matters: that we are all members of the human family – one people, one nation. I want to make the point that though the PNC/PPP may have good intentions, once there is even remotely perceived racism it creates a serious problem; thus we need to see the crux of the matter.
This is why Africans being fewer in number are beginning to understand that they are flogging a dead horse; that once playing fair and square they will continually to be defeated if we remain steadfast to a racial voting pattern. Indians by the same token of having numerical supremacy will be perpetuating an unpleasant environment, thus it is plain to see the race factor as the dirt between the magnet of racial harmony.
The bygone days of race voting should be knocked dead; they do no good to the spirit of nation-building in a plural/multiracial society. This is why the old order should be jettisoned and be replaced with a new dispensation, and here is where I see the role for APNU in the present scheme of things – as the embodiment of this new order for genuine unity.
Now, one disturbing aspect in this process at this point in time is the sinister way in which Walter Rodney, our dear brother who was in the forefront for racial unity and lost his life in the process, is being made a mockery of.
His assassination should not be bandied around and held up as a banner, a reminder of a dark period merely to keep us distant and apart. Sad as it was, how does resurrecting this dreadful act at elections time as a reminder of what took place three decades ago help us to forge true racial and national unity? How does avenging, reprisal, and bitterness help to mend old wounds? How does this assist in nation-building?
For what purpose is this kind of hypocritical nefarious campaign being mounted, when the overwhelming majority of followers of the late Rodney and Guyana at large long for the death of racism – the beast.
Then who are they that would want the flames of racism to blaze, to avoid a coming together, and what of the theory of dialectics where nothing is seen as static, where everything must be examined in relation to changing times, its relevance/irrelevance to be seen within the context of the times?
If we have learned anything over the last 40 years it should be that “life goes not backwards or tarries with yesterday’s sorrow.” Thus we should make the effort to rise as a glorious people or choose to remain “prisoners of our own device,” consumed by our primitive, foolish and disgusting behaviour. How much better do we expect to be if we remain padlocked in old worn habits?