Reflections on the Buxton event of August 20

Dear Editor,

A friend sent me the the Stabroek News of August 22, 2013 which had an ample report of the Buxton event  of August 20 in which so many large-hearted citizens and organisations said whatever  good they could find to say in my favour. At age 28, (1953) I had boycotted a “victory” celebration. I was lifted bodily into it, and left as soon as possible.  August 20 was no victory celebration so in my “second childishness” I willingly attended through Skype. Taking part on Skype, I could hear a sound like drumming, but no speeches. Luckily, my remarks were heard.  I tried to read the  SN report when I received it on August 23 but I just went back to it and read it through, with less “eye water”  flowing. I hope I’ll be allowed to make two disclaimers. Yes, for a long season at Lessons Place there were refreshments after classes. It was a hard guava season.  Credit for the refreshments to students belongs to a “first responder” of those times, The Beacon Foundation and Mr Clairmont Lye.

I was not the only one teaching at Lessons Place. David and George Hinds did all the pre-secondary teaching at Lessons Place in those days. Secondary level graduates like Deon Abrams and Kidackie Amsterdam came back to teach new batches of students.

It may not be known that Andaiye volunteered at County High School while she was unemployed. Another volunteer was Victor Moses.  The late Hector Lee, my neighbour, carried on his own support remedial teaching at the Ramkissoon’s shop building on the Public Road, before joining Lessons Place. I am sure there were others too.

Overseas Buxton organisations, COTAB, BESAC and CIMBUX each based in a North American city rendered steady support through their Guyanese representatives.

Much of their support went into school supplies and scholarships, but they were also attending and are attending to other needs.

I have often seen comments suggesting that governments have neglected to honour me.

Neither the PNC nor the PPP deserves blame for this supposed neglect. In 1970 I declined an offer of an honour from the then Prime Minister and in 1992 or early 1993 I declined a similar offer from the succeeding President.  People have asked me what honour was offered. Frankly, I never bothered to enquire.

In my remarks on the way women are being battered, I referred to, and repeated, the call of Swami Aksharananda last year to men to respect all women. I hope I too said “all women” and not “our women.”  Help and Shelter and Red Thread have cried themselves hoarse.

TV needs to be on our case without stopping, as all classes and all races are involved.  It is good for people to see that these appeals are coming from several sources and different walks of life; that is one small way to advise and encourage a change in behaviour.  The British governors undermined women in the 19th century. When 21st century men undermine women we are behaving like those governors.

I thank my longstanding colleague and Sister for bringing things back to earth with a reminder of my well-known  imperfections.  In those fasts or hunger strikes against public wrongs which I engaged in singly I often targeted first my own faults. This is important for younger generations. My holy cows are martyrs and battered women and children.

I may have missed some press reports and comments. I did not miss Freddie Kissoon’s column, which he devoted mainly to the event at Buxton.

It was an honour to be invited by the Toucan 11 Multi-Purpose Youth and the First of August which I first heard of in the early seventies  when some young people  took charge of public education and first brought a number of lecturers to the village every August month.

These were both self organised and self-directed. I hope they still are.

If I may be permitted a “commercial,” I understand the spirit in which things are named after people.  I am so vain that I will find fault with any monument supposed to represent me.

My mother’s family, Baveghems, with my consent hit the right spot when they named a University of Guyana Scholarship in Edu-cation after me. I know some have been awarded, but do not know the details.  I think that support for this scholarship fund will bring long-term social benefits.

I shall soon write to the organisers, thanking them.

With encouragement to all who know that they commit themselves to social justice for all humans.

 

Yours faithfully,
Eusi Kwayana

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