The actions to foster social cohesion cannot be piecemeal. We are either in or out. I listened in horror last Wednesday night as I sat in the National Cultural Centre and heard the person doing the welcome make the biggest blunder of the night. She proceed to welcome all the attendees, then said that it is a year now since we had the change “we all were waiting for”. This she said at the event titled ‘One’, which was attended by members and constituents of the opposing parties and on the occasion pegged to highlight the inaugural Social Cohesion Day. Does that young lady not know that 49% of the country did not vote for the change we now have? Why would she presume that only supporters of the current administration were present?
Let me congratulate the organizers and performers of the night’s event. It was obvious that a lot of thought went into the concept of the event. It is also obvious that the constraint of time negatively affected the outcome. While I am at it I would also like to add that the finale could have been more social cohesively scripted. It came across as awkward to see the Afro dancers taking up 3/4 of the stage, while the Amerindian and Indian dancers were left to jostle for the other 1/4.
I am of the strong opinion that the planners of many of these national events and activities are not paying enough attention to the equal and needed inclusivity of all the races in Guyana. There seems to be some level of a racial or political scotoma (blind spot), affecting those in the upper echelons of this current administration. I am deliberately being tough on this administration because it is this administration that has established a Social Cohesion Ministry. I said in another letter that there are some whose desire is to kill this social cohesion movement. However, until they have the final say, those under the purview of President Granger, should do all they can to make an indelible impression both on the supporters and the on the haters of national unity.
Editor, additionally, I could not help but extract for scrutiny, a few excerpts from President Granger’s address to the Parliament. I missed his live presentation; however, I read the transcript of his speech. One part that jumped out at me is when the President spoke of the public infrastructure that stretched from Skeldon to Mahaica. He said this, “…A new international airport, at Atkinson Field, now Timehri (today called the Cheddi Jagan International Airport)”. Now which is it? Timehri International Airport or Cheddi Jagan International Airport? Or put another way: Is it Ogle (today called the Eugene F. Correia International Airport?), or is it the Eugene F Correia International Airport?
I also noticed that President Granger in his sweeping address to the parliamentary chambers spoke of the developments that immediately followed our independence (which was mostly dominated by PNC governance) but he said absolutely nothing about the development that followed the PNC rule. How could we speak of 50 years in such simplistic, selected, pockets of time? Or is it that the President will speak more specifically and aptly on these realities come the 26th?
He then said, “The absence of national unity has impaired national development. It has triggered a continuous trickle of migration. It has led to political and economic fatigue.” I like this! However, I think the President needs to go further. He needs to say why this is so. What caused it. And how we can end it. Like a sociological auditor, the President must reveal the culprit/s of these ‘fatigues’, so that it never happens again. The President must reveal the perpetrators of Guyana’s ethnic and social ills, much like today he is revealing the perpetrators of our financial ills. The President should audit our history so that we never repeat it. It is said that he who forgets history is destined to repeat it. The President bemoaning our racial tangles after 50 long years provides proof enough that because we fear to deal with the root cause of the problem, we continue to live with its vestures.
As an avowed historian, the President needs to call upon his academic expertise and educate this youthful generation of our past. He also needs to cast a vision away from the ills of the past. The latent foundations of our racists past are still alive and well and the President must lead the charge by laying the axe to its root. The history books are replete with the atrocities of America’s founding fathers. I believe it is time for us to take a page from their books and write our own horror story.
President Granger spoke of the country being “…liberated from the paralyzing failure to conduct local government elections (LGE)”. However, I was surprised that the President did not mention that the local government elections were steeped in racial, straight party-line, voting. As it pertains to his desire for social cohesion, the LGE were a blatant failure! The next time the President speaks about the LGE he should use it to note how divided the country remains, 50 years removed from massa’s rule.
Editor, as I read the President’s speech today, it looks as if he has basically outsourced the work of social cohesion to the Parliament. As leader of the executive branch, I did not see sufficient vision casting. I did not hear him say what the executive arm of the country plans to do.
- He could have said that the reason he has not operationalised the culpability of the financial audits is because it would further jeopardize his call for social cohesion.
- Or he could have said that he has settled on which members of the PPP he will add to his cabinet.
- Or he could have said that the areas in which the LGE were evenly divided, his government will relinquish half to the opposition leadership.
Editor, we have come to the one year marker of this new administration, we have also come to the year of our jubilee. Social cohesion is the President’s baby. He should use this opportunity to do something big. So far, all the national issues which began partisan have remained partisan. However, as much as the President goes big to pardon women and youth, I think he should go big and do something remarkable in support of his social cohesion baby. For I honestly believe that actions to foster social cohesion cannot be piecemeal. We are either in or out.
Pastor Wendell Jeffrey
Practical Christianity Ministries