This is the second installment of my reply to a condemnatory letter on me by Tacuma Ogunseye (SN, Friday, August 31). I would like state upfront that my assessments and analyses here and those in the past in responding to Ogunseye were not done with the direct intention of confronting Ogunseye. I have no respect whatsoever for the contemporary politics of Ogunseye.
He was active against the Burnham regime and made sacrifices like many of us. Unlike some of us from that era his political character has degenerated horribly. Ogunseye’s activities in Buxton during the crime wave (2002-2006) were and are completely irredeemable. I know of no other person in any political party, whether small or major that holds the racially deterministic beliefs as Ogunseye does. But more importantly, he has become a cheap spokesperson for the politics of a government that can hardly be considered a performer in advancing the interests of the poorer classes.
I write these replies as part of a contribution to history not an act of engagement with Ogunseye. Thirty years from when that generation is looking at the evolution of Guyanese society, I hope my notes can offer a picture of what politics was like in the early 21st century. My letter here will take the form of painting a broad picture of the fictional construct named the WPA. As a functioning political entity, the WPA died a long time ago. About five persons keep talking and writing about the WPA but that is what the WPA is – five persons. Christopher Ram wrote in this newspaper that the two co-chairmen of the WPA – Thomas and Roopnaraine – were appointed since 1985 and have been there since then without being elected.
The WPA has no numbers in membership. The WPA has no functionalism in any district or village in any part of Guyana. For over three decades now the WPA has never held even a small district conference in any part of Guyana. For over three decades now, Guyanese know about an organization named the WPA because about five persons write and speak in the name of an organization named the WPA. In terms of electoral strength, the WPA is virtually non-existent. The WPA will never pull out of APNU because if and when it does that, it will never face the electorate in any local government or national poll. It is against this background that many leaders in the PNC are not inclined to call periodic meetings of APNU because they feel that an almost non-existent party like the WPA wants to participate in policy-making when it has no national standing and no electoral strength. From now until it loses power, once the PNC is the big guy in APNU and the WPA remains in name only in Guyana, the PNC will not pay any attention to the ruminations of those five persons in the WPA masquerading as if it is a major, national player.
One of the irritations I have both as an academic that studies Guyana’s political sociology and as an activist is this thing about the WPA being a national actor in Guyana when you take into consideration the extreme thinness of its existence. It comes across as fraudulent. What makes the WPA different from three carpenters who form a party and have ten supporters?
The WPA remains the only party from forty years ago that has virtually gone off the scene but refuses to do the decent thing and wrap up. Now, I have no problem with the WPA if it continues its activities and we see its biology and physiology as with other parties. But where is its functionalism? Just tune in to its weekly television programme, “Walter Rodney Groundings” and you will see what an embarrassment those five persons that call themselves the WPA are. For the past ten years, three persons appear every week on the programme with the occasional appearance of David Hinds when he is in Guyana.
I will end with a macabre example of the WPA which I once wrote about. The host of Walter Rodney Groundings is Dion Abrams. On the show Abrams took a swipe at Lincoln Lewis. Lewis replied in a letter in the newspapers. Abrams answered Lewis and signed as “Community activist and educator.” He chose not to identify with the WPA even though the issue arose with him as a WPA personnel on the programme. Before ACDA parted company with Ogunseye, he spent his time as an activist with ACDA, David Hinds is a founding member of Cuffy 250 and is active with that group. Dion Abrams is a community activist. Where then is the activism of the WPA?