“This whole country needs an IMC (steuups!)”

- Guyana’s First Douglahs

Yes, my regular readers would discern whenever I attempt to be escapist. To avoid the unrelenting stress of “Pressing matters of national significance.” (Just how does a certain columnist manage to buse the government every day!? Mind you, this administration lends itself, easily attracts criticism and hostility. Even from angels! But I’m incapable of sustained hostility. Hats off to that gentleman for his mental strength and dogged mission of regime change.)

So today I border on the light-hearted though you’ll detect that the levity still transmits both the resignation and recommendations of thousands of depressed, dispirited and frustrated citizens, some given to hopelessness.

The quote in the lead caption was uttered by a well-known young business executive as we remarked on the tragi-comedic goings-on at Georgetown’s City Hall. Thoughts were exchanged on the Local Government Ministry’s innovation of implanting hand-picked “IMC’s” – Interim Management Committees- to supplant locally elected councils throughout the country when those who were elected, democratically, to administer their communities lapsed, for one reason or the other.

More often than not, it is alleged that the government would impose those who favoured it on these “committees” charged with running the communities for some “interim” period. That “interim” period lasts forever, of course.

I was pleased to tell the young Executive of the mother of all IMC’s in Guyana. It had to be’93 or ’94 when the “new” Jagan government disbanded the Georgetown Council and installed its own IMC. Headed by their University favourite Dr James Rose (now Guyana’s Director of Culture) that interim management was supplied with funding, equipment and personnel necessary to administer a municipality. I don’t know what became of the local Government/Municipal laws still relevant then, but Georgetown’s citizens could have nothing against a fairly well-run city. (Wonder if Dr Rose would be interested to run for Mayor these days?)

Well that was what prompted my younger friend to blurt out: “Well in that case, this whole country now needs an IMC of competence!”

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Please, Impose Maximum Compete-nce – IMC    

As the businessman called for competence – the qualifications, capabilities, intellect, vision, sustenance – in government to manage our resources, our national needs and our people, he launched into what the average Guyanese is seeing as a result of obvious incompetence.

Evidence includes overruns on hinterland and coastal roads and other infrastructure- contractors and their consultants are only threatened; millions wasted on buildings such as at High and Princes in the capital; the embarrassments at Skeldon and Enmore; a so-called Water Cannon; defective Army helicopters; new courts with porous lock-up facilities; closed-circuit cameras that are suspect; E-governance cables costing extra millions; local hospitals that merely refer to Georgetown- the list of wasted billions can damage one’s blood pressure.

I won’t be a super-critic who denies the good things achieved by the government. But leading the under-developed world in climate change issues does not release all the Norway funding to benefit needy hinterland communities.

And that’s the national malaise: more cars, lofty buildings belonging to a few and a brand-name hotel all offering just temporary employment does not translate into the permanent comfort and tenure the working class needs to maintain their families and their dignity.

 The shame of incompetence….

Quite often, I do try to assess the competencies of our Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, the professional support staff; the para-statal CEO’s.

Try doing so when/if you find time. Which Ministry impresses? Agriculture is vast. Health will always have challenges. The Works Ministry seems short-sighted and wracked by a shortage of simple competence.

(How many more years would it take to build safe hinterland airstrips for example?) Does not the Home Affairs Boss realize that more well-staffed Police Stations are needed in Regions Eight, Nine and Two?

It should be a source of shame if a “caring” administration allows incompetence to pauperise its populace. Cannot this government attract and keep really competent professionals? Draw your own conclusions. Point to note: the early-nineties Georgetown IMC was replaced by Elections!

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Original Douglahs, Other “Mixtures

In terms of Guyanese (creole) descriptions, our language is “pretty” when describing our mixed race brothers and sisters. (Is there any truly pure race?)

Seemingly, whenever African Guyanese mate with “others”, the “products” attract interestingly- graphic names. Chinee-Douglah – Chinese “mixed” with another race; Bouviander – Amerindian and Afro; Santantone – Portuguese and African – I known an interesting theory about the African moors and the Madeiran Portuguese surrounding this description, Santantone. But it is the most-popular Douglahs – mix of “Indians–Africans” – I wish to explore.

Imagine my hilarious surprise when I read that Governor Light, in August 1838, in misleading his superior, Colonial Secretary Lord Glenelg, reported that the first batch of indentured coolies – the contracted East Indian labourers were satisfied with their position…. Not disappointing their employer.” Not wholly true!

Then in January 1839 the governor informed England that: “The Coolies on Mr Gladstone’s Property are a fine, healthy body of men; they are beginning to marry and co-habit with the Negresses!! And take pride in their dress!”

Wow! Just a few months after arrival from India the Indo- immigrants befriended Afro- girls, in intimate manner! Their children were our first Douglahs! But now I wonder at numerous implications: how did the few immigrant Indian women react? What did the free African males think? How did those proud African Ex-slaves respond? Why did the freed African ladies turn to the indo labourers?

One friend suggested that the newly arrived Indians probably earned more funds than the African fellas who turned away from plantation/estate work. What a fascinating area study! Go to it, young sociological historians.

 Think Well…

.1) I thank Madame Gail Teixeira, Adviser to President Ramotar, for graciously taking time to send me the Government’s positions on the Linden agreements and ensuing implications.

Very soon after further personal research, I shall return to “the Linden agreement: Those really culpable.”

.2) So not only Afro- males were/are aggressive towards courtship of other ethnicities?

.3) How soon? Those Cabinet changes?

Til next week! – allanafenty@yahoo. com

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