On Martyrs and Fathers

Our Parliament, Our Paralysis

Here I go again with my now annual lamentation and enquiry. On Sunday 16th we here get a “package of observances – one strictly local, one more universal.
Yes, I am referring to the Enmore Martyrs Day remembering when five sugar workers were shot dead by colonial police during a robust industrial protest sixty-five years ago.

Then there is Father’s Day ostensibly to pay tribute to the world’s (good) fathers. Probably American- inspired.

My regular readers and few friends would know that I am not too fond of these one (yearly) day(s), when instead, all the worthy sentiments, behaviours and observances to celebrate people and events should be extant and demonstrated every day. But who am I to excoriate people’s anniversaries and grand events? So then, I repeat my take, my angle on our day-after-tomorrow’s observances.

Our Martyrs…

Sunday’s sixty-fifth anniversary will witness the annual wreath-laying homage and the full recounting of the history of the Enmore massacre of the five sugar workers-protesters.

Started by the Burnham/PNC administrations, replete with an impressive monument, this nearly national observance was intended to do a number of things. Foremost among the spoken or unspoken objectives was the recollection and recitation of our “anti-colonial” struggle against all that was wrong for a people living under  colonialism and oppressed by a merchant class with strong ties to a British-friendly government and legislature- (after the shooting, a top BG colonial police officer had drinks with the estate manager!)

Besides history, the Enmore Observance was/is the effort to instill permanent pride in our heroes, our independence, and our nationalism.
When I witness today’s migration and  mismanagement of the Sugar Industry, I  wonder at and am disappointed with how those sacrifices such as Enmore’s, are turning out.

And many might know that I have been fascinated, mostly in a negative sense, with how our politicians, decision-makers, Community leaders and moulders of minds have “created” heroes and martyrs.

Man! Within the past few decades some folks have given us our fair share of “martyrs.” Martyrs? The Greek origin allowed the word to finally mean: “One who suffers persecution or death for fighting all, or most of, his/her life for a deep cause held dear; for refusing to renounce a belief – oftimes of a religious or political nature.  Who is Christianity’s Chief Martyr?

I often question the Enmore five’s status as “Martyrs”.  I suppose we Guyanese are adept at stretching and manipulating definitions to suit our own interests.  Whether it’s our “independence” or our own “cause” we have that right.  Right?  Many sugar workers were shot dead protesting before Enmore 1948! Are they not “qualified” to be martyrs too?

As you contemplate martyrdom, consider our more political “martyrs”: ballot box martyrs, Michael Forde, Son Chapman, Quamina, Damon, 2012 Linden electricity-hike heroes.  Martyrs like peas! Those young men in the Pakistani Martyrs Masjids; in Afghanistan and Yemen should also check us out on this matter.
At Enmore, Sunday afternoon

At the anniversary ceremony at Enmore on Sunday afternoon, here is what I’d like to see – and hear.
Firstly, I would really love to hear from other personalities besides my GAWU friends and government spokesmen.  What about a relative of a martyr?
Secondly, besides hearing about Dr Cheddi Jagan’s 1948 Graveside Pledge, I am hoping to hear former GUYSUCO board member, president Donald Ramotar, announce an enquiry into the sugar industry and, at least, the appointment of three Guyanese sugar experts to advise a new board of directors.  What? I am a dreamer!

Our Fathers.  Fathers?

I declare: there are thousands of Guyanese male parents, but real fathers are an endangered species here.  Fatherhood is diminishing.  Why? Because young men are not taught- by grandparents, parents, church, school or anyone else – what it means to be a father.  Because those few who try to be genuine dads are compromised by economic constraints which thwart their efforts to be responsible providers. And by the media and their children’s preferences, not mindful of old time values, virtues and morality.

The “single parent” young ladies describe their “chile-faaduhs” as “sperm donors”.  We need to celebrate Fathers Day and fatherhood by suggesting to such entities as the Human Services Ministry, the Responsible Parenthood Association, the YMCA, the village councils and, okay, church and school, that they mount intensive, but youth-friendly programmes on fatherhood.  Tell me what exists right now(?) a reflective Fathers Day to you who care.

On parliament – and paralysis

This past Sunday Stabroek news item captioned “Parliament still hamstrung by lack of autonomy, political will: UNDP assessment, saddened, but did not surprise me.

A two-man UNDP/UNICEF team, funded by the UNDP, has produced a study with findings that revealed what many of us already know.  Their details and recommendations, coming after an earlier Davies 2005 report, are bound to be crucial to the assembly’s stature and more beneficial existence.

This team saw how dependent parliament’s existence is on the Finance Ministry’s allocations; how deficient the vital “Committees system” now is and the compromise of effectiveness when parliamentarians are mostly part-time (busy) assemblymen and women.

The study spoke of “the politics on display in the National Assembly occluding/obstructing the development of capacity.”  It opined that “it is high time that Guyana’s political culture reflects this ideal of power sharing“ – the proportional electoral system designed to stymie the winner-takes-all syndrome.

Poor experts.  This country? I’ll return to this story which shows how our parliament truly mirrors a sad society.

I must conclude with my reaction to what I saw on a television newscast last Monday evening. Residents of Kingston were lamenting that no compensation, even official consolation, was offered for the vast damage done to their homes and businesses flooded out when the Kingston Georgetown koker collapsed last March.

To a person, all of these defeated citizens said that they have given up hope of compensation, even insurance support.  All didn’t even dream of the government caring.  Their shrugging off of hope catapulted Martin Carter’s words into my mind. He wrote of paralysis of the spirit! More later.


After virtually one year the “functions of the Linden Land-use Committee are about to be finalized.”  (No compensation yet, no TV, no decision on rates and employment-creation.  What should be done?)

The American whistle blower’s revelations awake thoughts of privacy and freedom of speech versus national security and protection.  Discuss…

Coming next Friday: the Americans, the Brigadier and the Brigands.

’Til next week!

(Comments? allanafenty@yahoo.com)

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