Like other national elections in Guyana the 2011 elections have left us a reminder of division with heavy Afrikan support for APNU and heavy Indian support for PPP/C at the polls. The racial composition of those protesting in the streets is another reminder of the division. A chilling reminder of the division is revealed in the subtler form of the Private Sector Commission’s expression of a willingness to assist with post elections security, and its call for acceptance of the results by “Guyanese” because “business is hurting.“
The division is hidden by the use of correct political speak. The words ‘Guyanese‘ and ‘innocent people‘ are collective nouns, and in the Guyanese context would include Indians, Amerindians, Chinese, Portuguese, and any remnants of Europeans and our potpourri of ‘douglas.‘ But it is not Indians et al who are marching and who were shot; it is Afrikans. So that whilst it is politically correct to speak of innocent people, that term hides the fact that it is Afrikans who have been indiscriminately shot at.
The division is further hidden by the use of such faceless cloaks as ‘Private Sector Commission‘ and ‘business.‘ Faces on these cloaks however tell the real story. The PSC has had 9 chairmen – Captain Gerald Gouviea, Michael Corriea, Yesu Persaud, Peter De Groot, Brian James, George Jardim, Maniram Prashad, Beni Gopaul Sankar, and David King. In its nineteen-year history not one Afrikan has chaired this organization which asks “Guyanese” to accept the result. Its current executive boasts of one out of four being an Afrikan.
It is hidden, by token multi-racial representation especially in political party electoral lists and ministerial appointments without dealing with the historical economic contest between the other races and Afrikans in Guyana. Its real, but rarely discussed history lies in the European planter class’s intentions of keeping the Afrikans on the plantation as labourers after Emancipation.
Though the European efforts failed to stop us from laying the foundations of our economic liberation it has left the lopsided legacy of a society with the productive sectors dominated by the Indians, Portuguese, and Chinese, and the public and military sectors populated by the Afrikans.
The displacement of Afrikans from the productive sectors was achieved by targeted and discriminatory anti-Afrikan and pro-immigrant affirmative socio-economic actions among others.
Could there then be a relationship between the police’s irrational response and the PSC’s sentiments? Whether the answer is yes, or no, the firing upon Afrikan civilians by the police bears too may vestiges of the colonial actions which established the division. For justice’s sake, if the new “supremacy of the Parliament” and opposition majority are to be meaningful the legislative agenda must feature legislation aimed at removing the injustice perpetrated on Afrikans these last 400 years.
The very fundamental nature of that injustice when removed will benefit all Guyanese. The African Land Commission Bill must feature prominently. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action provide probably the most comprehensive range of measures which may be used to cure the legacy of the division in Afrikan communities. Articles 13, 14, 32, 33-35 and 103 of the Declaration and 4-14, 50,157-159, of the Programme of Action also contain many invaluable suggestions.