Christmas under the coalition

Ole-time masquerade, other trivia

Well, well, well, do you realise that this December’s Christmas Season is the first one that young Guyanese, twenty three years and young, will spend not under a PPP government?

President Hoyte “presided” over Christmas 1991. Hoyte was then persuaded by certain Western nations between Christmas 1991 and mid-1992 to allow “normal” fair elections and we Guyanese had Cheddi for Christmas ’92.

The same nations indicated in many ways that the Jagdeo-Ramotar version of PPP government should help Guyana liberate itself from them. By a slim margin a coalesced political grouping dominated by some “new-faces” PNC won the May 2015 vote and we were presented – or presented ourselves – with a version of Hoyte’s PNC –Greenidge and Hoyte’s Defence/Security Adviser Brigadier David Arthur Granger – “sweetened” with an AFC Party led by defectors   Nagamootoo, Ramjattan and Trotman.

Merry Christmas to all Guyanese under the seven-month coalition government. What now awaits us? How does Christmas meet us? Just who makes up this Administration?

The Valentine Coalition at Christmas.

Quickly recall that on the young lover’s Valentine Day this past February the PNC-dominated APNU sealed   a political lovers’ pact to wed their parties into a single Election Campaign/Polling Day force. (Never use time to analyse just who or what is this APNU – the “partnership” for national unity; the real “partnership” is PNC/AFC and, thanks to how Bharrat Jagdeo persuades young Indo-Guyanese minds, “unity”   seems to be always on pause. Let’s just do fine by peaceful co-existence and productive cohesion until love finds its own way.)

Frankly Speaking, not since the earliest   WPA – Working People’s Alliance, did I find some interest – and my usual “intrigue” – in the arrival of the AFC . The Principals, two friendly attorneys Ramjattan and Trotman from their respective political behemoths, soon had the services of the two Hughes; some ambitious and some sincere types like Sheila Holder; then quite a few disgruntled ex-PPP hopefuls in their 2005/2006 mix.

The newcomer AFC actually did relatively well politically and electorally as the PNC foundered with Granger then luring a shaky Trades Union Congress as well as other paper “parties” and organisations. Entered a heavier-weight PPP veteran Nagamootoo, then a strategic AFC No-Confidence Parliamentary threat. The rest, as they say, is history. We now boast a seven-month-old Coalition government with many over-fifty, over-sixty Ministers but who, along with their   “under-study” juniors, were never really tested in government nor governance. I won’t dwell on the latter fact but personally I feel they are coping, with varied levels of results. (Incidentally I’m still ambivalent about President Granger’s seeming penchant not to micromanage his Cabinet’s portfolios. Essentially that’s good as he reposes confidence in his (?) picks – PNC or AFC. But sometimes the disparate voices saying dissimilar things can confuse.)

National Realities and Offerings

Great expectations should not allow a population – for or against a new administration – to suppose that all campaign promises could be delivered upon, in weeks.

In our case, the evils visited upon our resources – patrimony and management – by the last group would render any newcomers with frightening challenges. So how do we find the coalition and us in this December, their eighth month?

Well levity tells me that from the minutes after David Granger was sworn in to become President and tried his best at singing the national song “Let us Co-operate”, a national sense and ethos of patriotism was to be re-introduced. The Independence Arch, the monuments, the new totem poles, the national songs, historical traditions, cohesion against Venezuela and the much-touted 50th Anniversary of Independence to–do next year, all constitute a work-in-progress.

Workers, retirees and pensioners truly need more take home money, but we must not be distracted by Opposition rousers and glib trade unionists who would try to “advantage” the young Administration for what was denied for decades. (And non-salary benefits – transportation, housing, buying-clubs, medical care – must also be requested of employers.) I can’t see Granger and Jordan ignoring their workers in 2016.

Signs in this December point to increased international assistance in many spheres. The Administration does seem bent on creating employment also.

Billions seem to have been misappropriated form the Guyanese people over the last 15/16 years. Dr Clive Thomas now promises to retrieve and prosecute. I’m holding him to that! The AFC says: “The discoveries … made so far … were hidden behind complex legalities and some Machiavellian machinations. We’ve made a few mistakes and may make some more, principally because we are very unfamiliar with this brand of dirty politics…” The   new year of revelation and prosecution of the past kleptocracy beckons.

No need for me to belabour the recent mini-crime spree. Except to optimistically note that there has been reasonably quick apprehension. The   spirit of cleanliness that has taken hold of Georgetown and other communities seems sustainable. It is obvious that the correction of years of municipal neglect is a coalition Christmas Gift.

Today’s crazy vending; attempts at curbing the fatalities on our roads and the hampers and Christmas millions from the President, Prime Minister and their First and Second Ladies all make up the mix of the Christmas under the Coalition- 2015.

I look forward to a more productive and prosperous New Year with minimum distractions from an Opposition still refusing to allow us to breathe. But my own pointed criticisms of the Coalition will really begin next month.

Snippets, Christmases past

The slaves on the plantations were later to parody, to mimic their overseers, drivers and owners’ wives after initially being allowed to play their drums, dance and make merry at Christmas time.

Later I was scared of and loved the Georgetown Santapee-Band masqueraders.

Who remembers the Steel Band Christmas Tramps for three weeks throughout the city? I still love our local songs, Canary’s “Christmas is with us again”, the Four Lords’ “Happy Holiday.” You name 5 other local Christmas Songs from my yesteryear.

Tell me how to make a Carbon Bomb and what was the most popular toy for boys in the fifties/sixties.

Paul O’ Hara loved to remind us that: (I ) England passed a law in 1656 abolishing Christmas Day – on a Christmas Day; (ii) Christmas Island in the Pacific was discovered on Christmas Day 1777; (iii) a Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau, who loved Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls, has two sons born on different Christmas Days; (iv) the three Wise Men who visited the Baby Jesus were in fact three Kings from Persia; (v) Santa Claus is based on St Nicholas   – the Bishop of Myra. But Santa Claus was also the Patron Saint of Pawnbrokers, thieves and gangsters!


‘Til next year!

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