Derogatory stereotypes were adverted to by President on eve of emancipation

Dear Editor,

President David Granger’s speech at Beterverwagting on the eve of celebrations of the 180th anniversary of Emancipation has raised many important questions which I would like to share with the public through your forum.

In my varied experience, speeches of any Head of State are an articulation of administrative policy, I cannot believe that the narrow derogatory stereotypical views expressed by His Excellency are fit and proper in this context. H.E Granger categorized Afro-Guyanese without jobs as proud beggars liming and drinking instead of utilizing their talents to earn economic emancipation. This is in stark contrast to the oft touted “marginalization of the Afro-Guyanese by the PPP Administration for 23 years” and in direct contradiction to His Excellency’s own words at Den Amstel in Emancipation celebrations 2016 “Some people have some strange notion that Africans don’t like work, they don’t like farming.”

Ironically, in exhorting Afro-Guyanese to become more productive, His Excellency made specific reference to “Guinness Bar” which is a Franchise of Banks DIH Limited, a publicly traded company that employs thousands of Guyanese of every ethnicity, and a franchise which to my knowledge is operated solely by Afro-Guyanese  entrepreneurs, the very person that President Granger wishes us to become. Guinness Bars also offer cook-up rice, fried plantain and breadfruit chips, all enterprises previously suggested as pathways to success by President Granger, this seems to be a case of damned if you do, dammed if you don’t!

Editor, nowhere in H.E Granger’s speech was there mention of job creation initiatives by the APNU Administration, instead there was “You must be ashamed if you do not have work” and “government services could not employ an unlimited number of persons”. Are we to assume that the policy of the APNU administration is that citizens should create their own jobs? That central government exists solely to levy taxes and spend yet to be realized Oil revenues? I await answers at H.E’s next press conference.

Editor, many will say that H.E’s views on those without jobs are based on his newfound financial security, however I believe our President’s view of Afro-Guyanese is as articulated is rooted in a much deeper psychological aspect created by our defective school curriculum. The history we teach is based on a European viewpoint, in this view, the African is viewed as a ‘slave or a freed slave”. Agriculture is equated with slave labour, this should be abandoned and everyone should be able to learn about real African history, of wonderful tribes such as the Ubuntu, religions that stretch back eons, the Orishas of the Yoruba, Shaka kaSenzangakhona, the mighty Zulu King, of West Indian heroes, Robert Nesta Marley, Rohan Kanhai, Frank Worrell. It is time for change, not just in financial emancipation but we must begin the process of mental emancipation. Based on His Excellency’s speech, I must conclude that it is too late for his generation, let’s talk to each other as Guyanese, based upon a true understanding of our different cultural roots not on derogatory stereotypes.

Editor, no truer words were ever spoken about our condition in the West Indies than those of our Prophet, Bob Marley “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”.

Yours faithfully,

Robin Singh

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