African leaders should be honest with their people, not condescending

Dear Editor,

Sometimes I cannot help but get the feeling that my fellow Afro-Guyanese have their heads in the sand. But listening to Brother Eric Phillips on TV still offers some hope that a few among the Black collective can still advocate a course different from the plunge my ethnic brothers and sisters seem bent on taking.

Brother Eric’s call for thrift and industry in the Black collective must be commended and supported. But the voices of Brother Eric and myself and a few others are like drizzle in the Sahara Desert. Nevertheless, while our pleas may bear fruit very sparingly, we must also exhort our Black leadership to accept that our people, particularly our youths and children, are astray and clueless as to where their salvation lies. They seem destined to be perpetual pawns to some leaders. To enlighten the masses means to free them. Are our leaders enlightening our masses?

Let me assert here that we should stop blaming slavery and marginalization, etc, etc, for our present predicament. Other races had their share of hardships, not as bad as the slaves, of course. But their focus is not anchored to four centuries ago. They constantly look ahead, while we keep looking back.

The deep concern I wish to express in this contribution is the number of our youths engaged in crime and the ever growing number of single-mothers. Our Black Leaders would like us to believe that we are being done in by other races. Is that really so?

There is a Zulu saying: “The tree perishes when the root is severed.“ In our mad rush to create an identity, we have lost our identity. We have distanced ourselves from the values which earned us pride of place in history. Now, we are in another mad rush to rediscover our roots and our culture. Do we have the will?

I cannot be silly to suggest that every unemployed Black can make a living off the land, but I do advocate that in our genes we have that connection to God’s earth. Our forefathers were kings and farmers and owners of cattle and industry. Proportionately, what are we today? We are stereotyped negatively. Do we or do we not deserve these stereotypes? What is our stereotype of ourselves?

I can hear the murmurings of Black leaders: We are politicians and teachers and policemen, etc, etc. My question: Can we feed ourselves? That is the most basic of all human capabilities.

Another question: Do you think that the token computer or set of books you give so infrequently can make a change? It cannot, because it is not sustained and you do not walk among the people to truly recognize and accept our weakness and failings and be man/ woman enough to decry our “slackness.“

A people who is scared to look into itself is doomed. Black leaders, join in freeing our people by being honest with them, not by being condescending.

Yours faithfully,
Godfrey Skeete

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