I am back in time through a look at those reminiscences of SN from three decades ago, and it is shattering that so little has changed in terms of direction and thinking; that the space travelled, if any, could be measured in millimeters. Select an area calling for thought and change and there is stagnation only. Pick a time, and it is the same timeless pathetic Guyanese story: 1988 is 2008; and the archives will confirm that 2005 is 2015.
From reminiscences to the year in review (and well-meaning projections for ahead), I wonder what has happened to that intricate machinery called the mind. Clearly there is little life in, or use of, the Guyanese mind, at many levels; perhaps every level. Rather than, as Churchill expounded on, an empire of the mind and life’s limitless possibilities, there is only the common denominator here of a nation of racial justifiers and perpetuators. The record is as jarring as it is numbing.
This vast capacity and willingness to be unthinking, to be resistant to the progression of thought processes is staggering, virtually limitless. But I err, as there are these two massive hordes (really one aggregated Guyanese presence) of the thoughtless, the mindless, and the characterless that gird loins, command courage, and solidify the will to think of one thing, and one thing only: race.
Race! It is this and should not be that, meaning them. In every aspect and tier, and place of Guyanese life, race is the defining, destructive, and delightful DNA. It is family, culture, religion, community, dreams, visions, public service, and politics. When this country can own the world, it starts by disowning its own soul; a sick, sorry, sometimes sordid soul. This is the existentialism encompassed and encapsulated by the narrowness of that single word: Race. For 99.999 per cent of this population, it is the essence of the existence embraced and loved. Interestingly, the few who question, resist, and critique attract the enduring scorn and damnation of those exposed. It is why collectively this country is a continuing loser, and well positioned to be an everlasting one in the family of nations. Oil opulence will only contribute to further deterioration.
Sheik Zaki al-Yamani, that most colourful of Saudi oil ministers, once even more famously said that “The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone…”And I submit that The Racial Age in Guyana will not end for lack of racists. It will end when there are more than the current literal handful who are willing to confront and condemn; and look at the rest of this nation, and say surely the prevailing ugliness and unending sickness have to have limits. It is when the core is bigger and willing to expose and expand as a primary calling, instead of the preservation of self, the preservation and primacy of race, and the preservation of payment and accumulation of property. That same core has to consist of men prone to innovative tensions and profound visionary graces.
Only then can there be a clean examination of where this nation has mired itself and why. And most important, only those with gravitas dare figure out how to get beyond the national ignorance, the national resistance, the national madness that is so embedded and so pervasive.
The conversation and examination have never been had in any form; thus yesterday continues endlessly, with those on the political outside waiting for their turn at the casino tables called the treasury. With race as the propulsion and vision, thus is explained endlessly why and how this society is trapped in one big hustle, through the multitudes of hustlers, dealers, tricksters, opportunists, charlatans, and assorted confidence men. For all the reminiscences and projections, the overriding intent is not country, but me, my own, and money.
Having said all of this, I am absolutely convinced that SN’s 50th and 75th anniversary will be mirror images of the still insoluble issues from its 30 year records. The words of the future will be different, but there will be the same issues, the same people (mentally), the same escapisms, and the same place with the same sad story of a retarded society.
Indisputably, all the reflections, projections, visions articulated in this country will not go anywhere if the race issue is not addressed and fixed through consensus and compromise. Otherwise, it is the same marginal movement, when so much more could have been achieved. There can be burying, concealing, pretending, and ignoring of this destructive issue, but this society will not progress a single inch, unless a genuine and powerful drive is embarked upon to fix it. Anywhere I go I can question the cosmic, even the divine; in Guyana, touch the political icons, the politically pedigreed and it is heresy and a stoning offence. Whither, therefore, honest searching conversation? Where are the honourable people (with no ulterior motives, no sterling calculations) to foster such conversation, examination, and the determinations of possible solutions?
In every arena of endeavour, there are the weak-kneed, the gutless, and the spineless. There is one redeeming feature: they can all be iron-willed in the pursuit of the self-enriching. Here and there an individual or two (literally) might dare to separate from the maze of the immoral and unethical, but by and large, this is a society that revels in the routines of what has harmed.
Sure, there are all these soothing words and phrases, such as accountability, democracy, unity, transparency, governance, with cohesion being the latest. The truth of the matter is that they are conveniences, and serve as camouflage for the racial distrust that leads to racial distance that incites racial contempt and contributes to racial misery.
Editor, all of this can be reduced thus: fix or fail; else the present and the future are limited to the monstrous past.