Desperation leads politicians to do and say strange things. These are desperate times for the once invincible PPP. We are hearing some very strange things from PPP quarters. We recently heard that Moses Nagamootoo, in 2008, said that he was not Indian. That revelation by the PPP camp was followed by two other stunning revelations. First, it was revealed that Dr Walter Rodney was a Pan-Africanist who was proud of his African ancestry. Second, we hear from the PPP side that embrace of their ethnic identity by Eusi Kwayana, Tacuma Ogunseye, David Granger and David Hinds should be emulated by all Guyanese.
Seriously? This is double standard and political dishonesty of the highest order. Even from a desperate PPP, this one takes the cake. Maybe they have had the pollster do some polls for them that shows the Coalition winning the upcoming elections.
Now, what is this thing about Mr Nagamootoo saying he is not Indian, but Guyanese? What is the crime? None whatsoever. All he was saying is what all politicians have said. In our sensitive ethnic environment, politicians, as a rule, don’t play up their ethnic identity for fear of being branded racists. The preferred identity is the civic identity—Guyanese. This is where our political discourse has been since independence. All of the political parties and civil society have agreed that this is the politically correct identification. A few of us, including this writer, have been hammered for invoking ethnic identity. I can’t count the number of times I have been called racist for discussing or affirming ethnic identities. But you see, I don’t want to be President, so I can be politically incorrect.
The laughable thing here is that Mr Nagamootoo apparently made this statement when he was in the PPP. He was not condemned then. Clearly the PPP was not uncomfortable with the statement. But now, in the moment of desperation, they are telling East Indians that Nagamootoo doesn’t like them; he is ashamed of his Indianness. When they want to cuss Hinds and Granger, ethnic identity is racist. When they want to cuss Nagamootoo, ethnic identity is not racist. And worse, when they want to appeal to ethnicity for vote-getting purposes, ethnic identity is noble. Hypocrisy and double standards.
After fooling Guyanese for years that Walter Rodney was only concerned with multiracialism, that he was not concerned with race, that he had nothing to do with Blackness, we now hear that he was a Pan-Africanist. Really! The last time I checked Pan-Africanism had everything to do with race and Black Identity.
But the worst (or best?) is left for last. We now hear from the PPP that the examples of Hinds, Granger, Ogunseye, Kwayana and Rodney—all proud Africans—should be emulated. These men have not abandoned their roots. Mr Nagamootoo, why you don’t emulate them? Oh how kind of the PPP. Maybe I will do like some others and mount the PPP platform tomorrow. But no thanks, I stand on one side of the fence and I too old to jump fences.
The Trinidadian calypsonian , Winston Peters (Gypsy), sang a telling calypso in 1986—“Captain the ship is sinking/Captain the seas are rough/We gas tank almost empty, no electricity/We oil pressure reading low/ Shall we abandon ship, or shall we stay on it?”/ And perish slow/ We don’t know/ Captain you tell we what to do.”
Nagamootoo must be having a positive effect on Indian Guyanese. He should keep on doing what he is doing.