Designing our nation’s narrative

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee penned a letter to the press underlining the ruling party’s pugilistic stance towards newspapers.

The Minister listed a litany of woes his Party suffered at the hands of the press, dating back to the 1950’s, and including the Stabroek News today. His complaint blamed newspapers for his party’s historical, recurring demise in government, and challenged the Stabroek News that the Party’s current 20 year reign would perpetuate infinitely.

Our dear Minister, crying foul like the schoolyard bad boy who loses his marbles, thinks that the ruling Party is the nation of Guyanese. His letter suggests that he equates Guyana with the Party, as one and the same thing.

Someone ought to sit him down and give him a serious talking to about the facts of life.

The Guyanese nation is not the ruling Party, Mr Rohee. The Party serves as merely an arm of the state.

The Stabroek News watches out for the nation, not the ruling Party. If the ruling party violates the national conscience, newspapers owe it to the citizens to report the party’s failings.

The Guyanese nation is writing and designing a national narrative comprehensively involving each and every citizen.

The ruling Party’s narrative, even with its historical roots dating back to colonial times, forms but a small portion of the national narrative. Our enormously beloved Minister could not possibly be so unenlightened as to fail to recognize that the Party’s story is not the Guyanese story.

Newspapers did not stifle the socio-economic development of this land. Rather, we could easily argue that pouting politicians destroyed our socio-economic potential when they employed such stupid policy as to rail against newspapers, and even shut them down or strangulate their independence.

Without the Stabroek News, the goodly gentleman might not have been enjoying the fruits of free and fair elections today.

But, of utmost importance, is our Minister Rohee’s comprehensive misunderstanding of his own society. His appreciation of the whole Guyanese narrative seems badly wanting.

The ruling Party’s story is simply not the story of Guyana. We design our national narrative as a whole nation. The ruling Party designs a narrative only political in nature, and including only its support base, now a minority of the population. We hope our honourable Home Affairs Minister wakes up to an enlightened epiphany, and soon.

Out of six corners of the earth, we came together, forged into a national fabric under fierce colonial force, to form the Guyanese nation. We do not form a congregation of Party dogmatists. We form a Guyanese nation, not a coalition of PPPites.

Today, we stand shoulder to shoulder together among the nations of the 21st century global village, as a Guyanese nation. Even the diaspora community identifies as Guyanese. We stand as one people in the world.

Time shapes a nation, building a culture out of commonalities among a people sharing the same space.

Much more than developing a unique culture, we build our own story. As we share our days, our experiences, our memories, we build a story unique to us, as a nation. Not as party faithfuls.

Out of Stabroek Market, Bourda, Valley of Tears and Wismar in Linden, Dartmouth, Essequibo, Canje, Berbice, we build a national narrative out of our shared experiences, our common life’s struggles, our determined triumphs.

As Guyanese we do not owe allegiance to any political party or national organization, but to the idea of us as a people, a nation.

Instead of Government officials doggedly defending their little enclaves of power, we need to see them reaching across this land to inspire our people to design that national narrative to embrace each and every one of us.

We want to see books written about the Guyanese story, our national narrative. We want to see painters, dramatists and playwrights, sculptors, musicians, dancers and so on design a Guyanese cultural norm that reflects all of us as a people.

We want an end to ethnic pampering, and a complete erasing of partisan allegiance to one party or organization. We all face a harsh world, together. And we must teach and inspire each other to join hands to form a solid wall of protection for each other. Surely, a Minister of Home Affairs would know this.

Our national narrative tells the story of us as a people, and individual ethno-groups, organizations, political entities and so on, become subsumed into this bigger picture. The national conversation shapes around us as a people, not around any one group or entity.

We expect of our national leaders a clear-sighted understanding of us as a nation unique upon the world stage,  a perspective, outlook and worldview that is an enlightened frame of national reference. Leading the nation calls for such a viewpoint.

For the Minister to believe otherwise is a grave mistake, and the implications are even graver, given the fact that such a belief affects his formation of State policy.

If Minister Rohee is interested in the totality of the Guyanese narrative, of building and designing a nation for the 21st century generations of our people, he must seriously re-consider how he sees his party in the grander scheme of things.

Instructive it is that he was responding to a newspaper report on Ralph Ramkarran’s comments of corruption within Rohee’s governing regime.

Ramkarran foresees the damage that State corruption is doing to the nation, and so criticized the party and government. We suffer untold misery from such anomalies in government.

And yet, Mr Rohee sees fit not to comment on Ramkarran’s concerns, although he touched on the matter. Rather, the Minister lambasts newspapers going back over 60 years. His memory of such wrongs against his party must give him endless sleepless nights.

If Mr Rohee feels peeved at perceived wrongs against him and his Party, how much more do we the citizens feel wronged against the severe injustice against us, by governments we trust to have our best interest at heart? How wronged should we feel when we see the grand aggrandizement of State officials, when we remain in social degradation?


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