I thought I would take some broad strokes at a review of the things that enlightened or disturbed during 2017. Here is the world of Guyana as I saw it.
In the life and death duel for ascendancy in this country, there is discernment of the near totalitarian presence and reach of a dogged, sometimes desperate, always crafty opposition. It can be sophisticated or low, thoughtful or tricky, and nuanced or nefarious. Many times, the words, postures, and actions of the local opposition are immersed in all of those elements simultaneously. This is no mean feat by any measurement.
To begin with, there is the considerable media presence. Daily ranking members of the opposition squat on large spaces and many places to propagandize, to blank out, and to challenge. In terms of blanking out, this is where the opposition, through sheer weight and volume, seek to minimize contrarian voices (to its own messages) out of the line of expression altogether. In other words, the opposition brain trust has embarked on the Colin Powell strategy: quantity is supremacy; quantity is vitality; quantity is durability. With regards to challenging, Stabroek News and Kaieteur News, the two independent dailies, are probed and pushed with the objective of crying bias if denied publication. In all of this, a formidable, artful presence is perpetuated to the detriment of truth and accuracy. I label this Pravda in drag.
Then there is parliament. The best that could be said of this is that members have converted this once honoured house into a frat house; the National Assembly is now a national alley. While that could be pardonable, there is this growing emphasis on what could be generously termed outright falsehoods. In this instance, anyone and almost everyone in the opposition ranks take turns to deliver full-fledged inaccuracies and unsettling distortions, without any regard for routine honesty or basic decency. These disciples of falsehoods already know that a lie told often enough becomes accepted truth in due time. But this is more wicked than that old Leninist standard and practice. For in Guyana, there is the emerging phenomenon of telling a shocking lie once and just let it hang out there. Once is enough. It does not matter what sharp angry defence is tendered, the damage is done, as there are gullible hearts and minds waiting to absorb willingly. Then, it is on to the next blatant lie or gross exaggeration to be showcased in the Guyanese Cold War, now a graveyard of frightening political imaginations. This is called representation here; statesmanship went into the gutter a long time ago.
Next, I have come to the conclusion that there are many men and women around in this country, who exhibit all the irrefutable signs of great lunacy. These pathetic figures are not the street people muttering darkly to themselves, or hurling ugly obscenities. More than a few are in parties, in (you guessed it) parliament, and in power, too. And if this is not concerning enough to a perpetually insulted nation, these lovelies also come with infirmity of character and retardation of values. There is no leadership vacuum here, simply a leadership cesspit.
On the government side, there are those folks who should not be let out on the street. They ought to be confined to homes not their own. These are not ghost workers or mere incompetents; they just lack what it takes to measure up and they are lacking in the pride and self-respect to resign and let their betters lead the charge. The only time I remember that these people exist and they are part of the mix is when budgetary matters come into focus. These human extravagances weigh down this country, and oil cannot float them. At least, they have the good sense to keep quiet and collect. If they must be kept, then they should be entitled to 365 days leave a year, so that they will neither be seen nor heard.
Meanwhile, I detect that the president has refined his own practice and bureaucratic decorum. He has manifested an unswerving exemplification of what it is to be delegator-in-chief. This has many pluses, including responsibility and accountability. It distances His Excellency from the frays of the days. His self-imposed moratorium on official public comment on some burning issues hurts him, his government, and his visions. There are times when presidential interventions are more than appropriate; they are timely and needed. I think that that should have been the case with the roiling ExxonMobil matter. Still, it is encouraging to see the leader step forward and take responsibility. Henceforth, Mr. Granger should lessen the distance and lessen the time of his presences and pronouncements; in so doing he lessens the poisons accumulating.
Now there is this composite creature called the private sector. This is such a fluid flexible sector that it could easily be called the government sector. For, regardless of which party is the government, private sector constituents, with few exceptions, mutate seamlessly and handsomely into the folds, beneficences (and shenanigans, too) of the government of the day. I term this survival of the smartest (and the craftiest as well). Because when looked at closely, the private sector for all of its many parts, protestations, and laments might as well be another government ministry (or quasi-state entity) partaking of the fruits of the land.
I almost forgot the churches. Theirs is an absentee presence; such is their voice, such is their influence. Self-congratulation and self-perpetuation of limited leadership takes precedence over the precepts of those two great commandments. The emphasis is more on the projection of the ways of the Guyanese world, if not of the flesh sometimes. The flocks falter; lost sheep abound with no one looking to retrieve those disenchanted ones.
These would be the peoples of this land that captivated the attention this year, and warped it too. LFS Burnham, for all his faults, kept a lid on things. In his time race relations went from rancorous to rubbery; call it the plasticity of hypocrisy; or the temporary nature of tyranny. Now the ethnic floodgates yawn widely and angrily; the people are bare-knuckled and white-knuckled in division. It is taut, and jarring; unnerving, too, as listened to, observed, and evaluated. There is little pretense, less civility, and even less ambience. The simmering concrete jungle is complemented by the gutless heroism and plebian anonymity of the media; social media, that is. If this is 2017, then I daresay that 2018 can be declared lost already to more of the same from high elected to low common, through the massed and massing toxins.
Still, there were a few bright spots. The two independents, SN and KN, did strive mightily and honestly to get in front of developing issues; KN could be more careful. Demerara Waves ploughs ahead tirelessly. Price gouging was contained to some extent. The Guyana Police Force was a mixed bag of positives, while plagued by troubling personnel decay. Public servants still cheated; but some were exposed, with many more on the radar. No minister could be said to have actually engaged in self-help; though some names surfaced on occasion, especially a very sensitively placed one.