AA Fenty in his ‘Frankly Speaking’ discourse, ‘A visa, a coffin before twenty-five’ (SN, November 22) was smack on target. One expects only a tourist or stranger to be. And though as he correctly said: “I’m again wearily exploring that which has attracted repeated commentaries and analyses elsewhere,” his reading was a refreshing and lovely reminder that jolted the sleeping senses to the reality we have grown accustomed to and seem no longer worried about. As Sunday columnist Ian McDonald in explaining “Why good is so often defeated” wrote: “Most people go with the flow even when the flow becomes alarmingly steeped in sewage.” Said Fenty: “I now lament the stark fact that politics, governance, discrimination, corruption, management of resources and lack of employment among other factors, have caused young Guyanese to yearn to leave this homeland still rich with resources. Do you realise what national hopelessness means amongst the larger portion of our population?” But who can honestly look you in the eye and deny that? And I’m not denying the hard, perilous and precarious times many are faced with abroad, but the very fact that they crave madly the opportunity to leave paints a picture and tells a different story ‒ too many things are amiss and adrift. After making mention of the fact that people dying by traffic accidents and murder in times gone by used to be a stunning, shocking and singular event spoken of for weeks, he compares it to the present day where the young ones are rapidly dying and seem insensitive and nonchalant about loss of life, and have come to accept death as normal ‒ you can often hear their silly utterance, “Yuh ga fuh dead,” spoken with much bravado. Which reminds me of the little girl upon entering the cemetery exclaiming, “Yaaah look how much septic in haay.” Then he pops the enigmatic question that has almost every conscious person over thirty-five bewildered except for the powers that be: “How did we get this way?” It’s from television, dance-hall gangsta music, lack of parenting, greed to get wealthy without work!
I say all of the above and more; it’s partly too of our own doing for we indeed reflect a strange trinity ‒ deceptiveness, gullibility and enigma ‒ and for whatever good TV has done none can overlook the negative effects it has had on our society; novelist and playwright Harold Bascom has referred to it as our “Trojan horse.” Well guns like cell phones are everywhere, and the behaviour and habits of disreputable cops in sheep’s clothing/police uniform are well known. Dear reader, when you weigh-in with the explanation the taxi driver AA Fenty had a conversation with every day on account of the late-night lessons his daughter is attending, and who told him: “Mr Fenty what is taught at her school between 9am and 3pm can never equip her to pass exams,” then you know that we have come full circle ‒ “From Burnham’s free education to paid lessons.” It is plain to see the extra lessons’ industry is now full-blown and ubiquitous. It is now almost impossible for a child to pass the Grade Six exams without extra lessons, which is the unwritten rule that completes the school’s curriculum.
I concede that sprawling buildings, roads, vehicles and such like do reflect a level of progress, but barring those we are at a miserable low as a people, a nation where morale is concerned, while morality has taken flight. So how do we measure development as a civil and independent nation? Fenty ends his discussion on a note as serious as a heartbeat, touching on Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon. He says that his behaviour should heighten citizens’ disdain for arrogance and mockery. I think that the master spindoctor needs to be examined ‒ no playing, considering the frivolous manner in which he often treats important issues that somehow seem to amuse him and which are accompanied by that inimitable impish smile of his.
Finally dear readers, I do believe, as one columnist loves to remind us, that we should try to find and highlight the good things around us ‒ and most certainly there are good things around ‒ but still how can we ensure and protect those good things if we remain silent and allow them to vanish in a maze of “ugliness that society dangles in helplessly… A certain kind of madness that is the foundation of the sanity that prevails” -GHK Lall. This is why there needs to be a sober examination and reminder every now and then about our state of affairs. Fenty asked: “How did we get this way?” GHK Lall says: “We will survive, just how is the question.” But surely: “The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves.”