His Excellency – not fit? Not proper?

-Jonestown’s 40th – personal notes

-Permanent Pavement People (PPP)

I suspect these are my final comments for some time on this issue – the choice and presence of a chairman for our national elections body.

After all His Excellency’s own choice – his chosen chairman – is there, for months now. Large – and in charge! But those of us interested enough and vested with open–minded honesty would accept that His Excellency thumbed his nose at both the intent and spirit of the Constitution’s Article 161 (2).

I can now – at this useless late stage – declare that Frankly Speaking, His Excellency always intended to install his personal unilateral choice to head our National Elections outfit. So what does that translate about him?

Had he found just one fit and proper candidate from Dr Jagdeo’s 18, a lot of divisiveness, rancour and social non-cohesion would have been avoided. There is a bit of contention about our Appeal Court’s finding that His Excellency’s manner of choosing his own chairman was legal and proper. Litigation now proceeds to the Region’s highest court. His Excellency’s choice and actual Chairman still engender discord among thousands who support the Opposition. What motivated His Excellency? The following?

Unacceptable! Not fit nor proper!

After Cheddi Jagan returned to power in October of 1992, Opposition Leader Hugh Desmond Hoyte had to submit his list of six to be considered for GECOM chairmanship.

His Excellency’s name – David Arthur Granger – was on Hoyte’s list before the 2001 elections. Alongside His Excellency’s name were those of Justice Rudolph Harper, Denis Craig, Gem Fletcher, Harold Davis and Major General Joe Singh. Dr President Jagdeo chose Joe Singh who functioned as GECOM Chairman for a few years. (Recall Joe Singh also being around when – in the presence of Chairman Doodnauth Singh – Janet Jagan tossed away the court document?)

So I wonder: Did His Excellency remember all that? That Jagdeo found Joe more “fit and proper” than he those years before? Why was Joe Singh unacceptable to the retired Brigadier His Excellency some months ago? Discuss…

Jonestown: My own notes 40 years after

November 2018 marks the 40th year since the horrific mass murder-suicide instigated by Jim Jones, leader of a cult comprised of conned American citizens.

In the forties, fifties, sixties when we over-sixties heard of “Jonestown” we thought only of Agricola, now a “suburb” of Greater Georgetown. (There are also other Jonestowns.) The mass killings took place in a developed forested area outside of Port Kaituma at the topmost north-western region of Guyana. What follows are both my own factual notes as well as opinions emanating from brief personal contacts with a few Jonestown players.

•  It was eight years after we assumed Republican status and Forbes Burnham was “in his element” charting development a dozen years after Independence.

•  LFSB accepted the maverick preacher Jim Jones and his army of both young and retired pensioner/followers who carved a virtual township out of pristine “jungle” near Kaituma.

•   I worked as an editor of reading books at the GNS Publishing Centre at Ruimveldt.

• Lovely Afro-American young ladies would collect pieces of cardboard and paper for use in their Jonestown school.

•   Some of us from the publishing centre were invited to Campbellville homes where resided some senior Jim Jones staff.

•   I saw new Afro-American arrivals from California. Jones allegedly would seize their pensions and other entitlements.

•  Jones’ “son” – about 7/8 years old explained the Theory of Relativity to adult me.  Jim Jones implemented powerful PR activities – monitored house parties (I saw Eze Rockcliffe and the late Army Chief, Col Clarence Price at one such “sport”.)

•  Jones had “miracle services” at Sacred Heart Church and concerts at the NCC. Ministers were entertained specially at Jonestown.

• When my publications team visited Kaituma, we were invited to Jonestown.

•  My team leaders were “Paul Adams” – really Herman Ferguson – an eminent “fugitive” from the USA and his wife Jayuula: they immediately identified the secret goings-on.

• They identified Jones’ ex-army enforcers; an old Afro-captive gentleman told us secrets very quietly; Harold Bascom was stopped from sketching on site; we saw where a small gorilla was housed to sometimes help punish errant members now captive.

Forbes Burnham probably thought such an agrarian American presence would symbolize wholesome productive foreign outreach. He could not know that Jim jones was a fanatical cult-oriented maniac who nearly established “a state within our state”, without any regard for any local authority.

Even as my friend Neville Annibourne ate stewed beef-and-rice on the Kaituma Airstrip where visiting American legislators and journalists were being shot and killed and instant books resulted, the rest is unfortunately, a sordid part of Guyana’s history.

Permanence of G.T.’s paves

I loved living in Georgetown for more than half a century. Then I witnessed, experienced urban deterioration. No solid long-term plans for an expanded capital accommodating more buildings, businesses, vehicles and population led to chaos.

I’ve already recorded that I won’t live to see an orderly, well regulated city with well-landscaped city spaces and preserved heritage. As in many areas of governance, Georgetown cries out for a reformed municipality.

Persons speak of “per capita”. Well per capita – compared to much larger populations – Georgetown “boasts” too many vendors! An economy under strain has thrown up thousands of petty vendors and hawkers. They have taken over the city’s sidewalks, avenues, pavements. Permanently! The City Council takes their rents. Pedestrians now jostle virtual stores on the pavements as both vendors and big stores occupy pedestrian “pavements”. Christmas chaos will reign!

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Ponder, consider…

1.  Here is hoping that the advanced medical treatment that both our President and Prime Minister access from overseas remedies their health challenges

2.  Even as her Public Health Ministry seems suspect in ordering needed drugs, I salute Volda Lawrence for her inspiration as a cancer warrior.

3. Do you realise that Suriname, Guyana and now Brazil now all have former army officers as presidents?

4.  Why should thousands be allowed to enter the USA – claiming asylum – when thousands who applied legally, normally be made to wait for years?

4b. And do you-all recall that His Excellency’s current Chairman, Retired Judge Patterson’s name was     submitted to President Cheddi for Chairman around 1997 but was rejected? His Excellency’s 2017 Chairman was not considered fit, proper or appropriate 20 years ago! Presidents have long memories yeh!

5.  Beautiful piece on Creole Day in this Monday’s Stabroek. All about creole, culture – especially the use of our Creole Language. (The piece was written in good English!)

6.  I read that our men’s Under-20 Concacaf football team has a supportive staff of eleven! (Great?)

’Til next week!

(allanafenty@yahoo.com)

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