Going to school in August – Reminiscences…

-Who will attempt to rig elections? How?

-Rum, proverbs – and a priest

As just one week of August is left for this year I return to reflections relevant to this month, evocative for virtually two generations ago.

Just how were the long July-August school holidays spent fifty-sixty years ago? My generation certainly did hear and read about the four seasons of the year experienced by those who lived in places located in Europe and North America, especially. But colonial or not no one dreamt of describing our Guyana July/August as “summer” So it’s strange to us-past sixty/seventy- to hear and read today’s independent generation using other climates’ terms. (Oh? It has to do with the fact that more Guyanese now inhabit those places? The Diaspora? Okay.)

I have always lived in the capital – once around the Bourda, Albertown, Queenstown areas. I lived in a little cottage on Church Street and oh boy, were there churches around! I went to both Catholic and Anglican Churches; Seventh Day Adventists and the mosque; I knew when and where the Assemblies of God began, but I single out Albert Street’s Ethiopian Orthodox where an Ethiopian Bishop once visited and which place today’s genuine Rastafari would claim.

I mentioned those few religious places of my childhood to symbolize the relative peace and security Georgetown enjoyed in the forties and fifties. Before the sixties ushered in political racial mayhem. Two late Guyanese –to –the-bone seniors, Godfrey Chin and Charlie De Florimonte – have captured in beautiful word- pictures the innocent joys of our July-August school vacations. Too much to recount here so I’ll just reminisce via a few snapshots.

Georgetown youths were taken – by big old buses- to treats on the rural Coasts and Banks; even to “McKenzie,” Atkinson Airport, Parika or Bartica; so too the more adult folks went on excursions to Berbice, even Essequibo. So what’s a treat? An excursion?

Back-dam swimming and bush cooks attracted the more adventurous boys at home; and attending horse-racing at D’Urban Park,  cycling, cricket and football top matches; poor people’s children made their own toys and games- wooden guns, boats, slingshots, buck-tops, spinners; and the numerous button and marble games – from cush, jumming and holes to chink and cock-fights- this latter with teams of two boys.

So I’ll skip the seawalls crab-catching (especially “country-children” on their “beaches” and other crab-holes), or the hunting and raiding trees in alleys and neighbours’ yards; parents longed for school to re-open!

But hear this young reader; rather read this: no schools or lessons opened In July/August of my fifties/sixties. So whenever an adult or young adult appeared to be slow at thinking, reasoning or with some school subject, his /her detractors would “tantalise”! “Like you went to school in August!” Knowing full well that no school was even in session during those vacation periods.

How things have changed! Look at the numerous “lessons” and “summer schools” now on. So ask the serving seniors about the long school vacations of generations past. Then congratulate the education analysts for enquiring into those schools who scored nothing in the CXC and CAPE exams whose results are now being scrutinized.

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Elections rigging- Who? When? How?

Four columns ago I began a/this “series” on election rigging. Long before that I had cautioned that this type of issue would hold sway for months (to come). It has started!

Firstly and up front let me record my full agreement with the sentiments of the Kaieteur News daily columnist regarding the counting of the 829 votes at the recent PNCR Congress. (Tell me not of blackouts or any excuse for the time taken.)

Despite the presence of his Excellency’s own GECOM Chairman and retired Officer CEO Lowenfield, who believes results for the 2018 and 2020 elections will be timely and civilized?

Except with the hands-on intervention of overseas “experts” — with modernized equipment?

So who would seek to manipulate any election – its methods, actual voting and the results? Simple – participants not sure of any type of success but could feature and benefit from mal-practices. But funny how Guyanese do not accuse smaller parties of being guilty. Why? They have no wherewithal? No agents? No Access to GECOM officials and/or inner workings?

Just when does rigging take place? Well besides on Polling Day and when polls close, rigging can be passively done long before voting.

Creation of new electoral districts, hard-to-get polling places, dis-enfranchisement etc. Rigging, in this sense, is electoral manipulation.

Don’t expect this edition to delve into the possible loopholes and expertise which promote rigging. But this I’ll advise: Check locations of polling places; check integrity of security (personnel); scrutinise printing of ballot papers as against the final publicised Electoral Roll (for each polling place and district); get media and observers to monitor after they have been briefed themselves. I note the PPP complaints about local District boundaries.

More on rigging from me next time.

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Rum, wine- and the Bible

Look friends, Frankly Speaking these comments are not meant to trivialise a funny but serious issue, actually raised recently by Parliamentary Opposition Leader Dr Jagdeo.

Yes, the issue of members of Parliament (MP’s) imbibing “strong ones” on Parliament days. So perhaps being guilty of sometimes being a “devoted” worshipper of Bacchus/Dionysus myself and noting the sentiments of Stabroek News (Mon, Aug 20, 2018) and former House Speaker Hari Narayan Ramkarran, I move the conversation to an aspect that has always intrigued – and escaped – me. The use of alcohol in Christian Communities from their early beginnings.

Many columns ago I repeated the findings which purported to reveal the type of wine and beer Jesus himself probably sampled. So why was wine chosen to symbolise his blood? And not milk or water?

I once quipped to Rev. Andy Carto that he was/is an Executive of a company producing rum and beer. Gently, he reminded me that Banks-DIH also produced soft drinks, bread, pastries and ice-cream. (Everything, anything should be used in moderation!) So I’m approaching Rev Carto to help me understand his Bible’s Proverbs 31:6-7: “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink and forget his poverty- and remember his misery no more.” (Escapist advice?)

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Please ponder…

.1) Of course not! I’ll never be boastful! No “I-told-you-so!” Volda was victorious. Even as I “won”, I grieve for Aubrey, Bobby, Larry and Candidate, Green House spokesman Minister Joe.

.2) You all must check for the full meaning of “Justice”. It certainly does not mean that you’ll always get what you decide is right!

.3) Just think about what that old Co-op Bank building in Stabroek could be used for.

.4) Humour, silly remarks and fun attended Tuesday’s tremors. Fragile infrastructure and human ignorance will see Georgetown annihilated from a real earthquake.

Farewell to Aretha and Sir Vidla

Til next week!

(allanafenty@yahoo.com)

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