A little late doesn’t hurt. Deliberately not to be left out and be part of the well promoted literacy enhancement drive beseeching all and sundry to drop/stop whatever at 11:00am on September 9th and read something, anything; I gladly took part in the exercise. With nothing particular in mind, I picked up the Stabroek News of September 7th – not at the stipulated time – and after browsing the Obama/USA crazy bigoted obsession on military intervention of Syria, still so ummoved, unlearned from past carnage and untold human suffering through falsehood, democratic hypocrisy and bullyism, smug on the belief of possessing might over and above all else; I flipped to the letter column.
“Water People” not “Land of many waters” by Guy Marco was something for thought, very interesting, I was looking out for a response to it. And it would have been poor of me on such a day/occasion to miss the ever insightful writings of that learned gentleman, Clarence O. Perry – the educator – “The Learning Channel should be relocated to the Turkeyen Campus”: “We ought not to forget that democracy stands on two pillars – one is universal suffrage and the other is a literate and educated citizenry.” In moving on there was that bold caption that beckons your attention: “In the mid-20th Century Guyanese Artists achieved a Cohesive Culture which went out the window four decades ago” by Terrence Roberts who doesn’t hog the letter columns but when he feels the need to have a word, you bet the discourse is an enlightening journey from someone who knows just what he’s talking about. And really, that’s what makes topics interesting, seriously!
Who would challenge Roberts when he “categorically declares that both this literary and cinematic culture which existed cheaply for us all year round at seven Georgetown book stores and six downtown cinemas in the capital between the 1950 and 70’s are artistically, intellectually and educationally superior to most foreign and local TV programmes and films, Guyanese in general are exposed to today”. Roberts mentioned the arts of a period long past – 40 years – literature, music, fashion, and the performing arts which now only lingers in the memory of senior folks. He speaks of the pride and beauty of being a part of a minority of creatively inclined college and high school students who benefited greatly in style from great writers.
Much unlike then, we don’t see today students of college, high school, university or else compared to those like Roberts spoke about in his time with a thirst for quality reading; except for their text books, students today hardly venture beyond into the world of novels – as if they (novels) have been proscribed, I’m willing to bet pennies to pins that those in exception will comprise a paltry lot.
Definitely the names of those authors mentioned would sound like a mystery to many; in this season of fast changing finger-tip gadgets, they seem less motivated/inspired with very little interest and discipline in consuming the printed word in the form of a novel. Though I need admit that – while I am familiar with only just a few of the names mentioned, I have never gone anywhere near reading them – ever. Style of dress we will for sure see once more, this has been the way with fashion – what goes around, comes back around, most likely what has been in vogue some sixty years ago will return once more with a bang! The music listed is lost and “gone for channa” except to old folks who still treasure them and when the need arises, serenade and sooth themselves; to some extent it has similarities like fashion as it revolves and evolves, some musicians I think, without knowing it will replicate those of an earlier time; somewhat different but basic style/beat.
The call by the Ministry of Education for all to drop whatever they were/are doing at 11 o’clock on the 9th and read aloud, struck me afterwards that we would have had a Tower of Babel scenario, all babbling away and none listening!