The two messages came from far apart, and from two sources that could not be more alien to each other. One was from of all people, Buju Banton, at the Providence Stadium; the other from voters over there in the EU. The former urged harmony; the latter get on with the programme or get out. I predict the same response in Guyana to both of those unstirring (nevertheless worthy) but unappealing
messages: nothing doing; not here. Not me.
I laud the occurrence and timing of the singer’s call for harmony. I recognize that his audience consisted of the largest identifiable voting bloc in Guyana: the younger set. Without regard for the Guyanese composition of his listeners and revelers, I say very good. Now I proceed forcefully, and perhaps abrasively, to ask: what next?
Editor, I ask what next, now that the adrenaline surge recedes, and the musical heights retreat into the blankness of silence, interrupted later by the occasional reminiscence. What other than the electrifying pulsations and streaking crescendos will be recalled tomorrow in the frozen tundra that is the everyday social and block party of the street? Whither harmony in the big lime that is Guyana? Where thou be tricky, sickly unity?
I daresay that that concert recital message, which should mean so much to Guyanese would be as if it never was uttered, never existed when the arteries of road, commerce, market, school, tribe, and minds converge. For those not only converge; they collide. In the hardness of passions, of established inheritances, and of minds in which only a certain kind of music and message chants. Enemy. Adversary. Foe. How quickly those thousands, and all the other thousands of youths not there, forget and remember just one message: there is us. And there is them. I don’t think a thousand such concerts and callings will make a difference. Voters and voting do.
That was what was partially done and delivered in the EU elections. Not that way, buddy. Not that thinking. Not that programme, with all of its objectives and policies and the rest. It was: get on with the programme. Or get out of the way. The surge is still to crest. But some early markers were laid down in clear, unambiguous terms. Some-men and women, leaders all; have hung on and survived. They will regroup and rethink and rebuild. They must. It is that or there are the exits. Keep moving. In all of this, there is a growing nationalist bent that rearranges political equations and seeks to redraw legal and mental maps. Guyana is direly in need of such a redrawing, save that it has two problems: no equivalent map and, in the last analysis, no such mentality.
To my great regret, Guyana has no such strength, no such concert of a different kind of mind. It is a safe bet; more than that: a guaranteed one. That is why one leader after another toy with words, play games, deliver smoke, and then collect. Legitimately or otherwise. There is neither concern nor urgency nor intent. They know their people all too well. Whether they thrill to the musical fireworks in celebration of Independence Day. Or whether they rock to the rhythms that pay homage to rum-drinking on any given day. Leaders like their people this way. It is the domestic equivalent of giving the people what they want. They do: a lovely distraction; momentary lightning in the night. With the dawn comes the social hangover, a wicked enduring one.
Editor, I tell you what would be encouraging. That a cross-section of youth leaders pick up that cudgel and bang that drum before peers, even at the risk of isolation and ostracism. But which one is brave enough and independent enough and secure enough to venture into those badlands among the hardcases? Troy Thomas is an exception. Then, I would like to see the youth at UG do something, and get in the face of issues and political people. Students can be the oil of change. Where are they? Other than as silhouettes of the past pretending to be the wave of future.
Where are the church leaders? Where are they outside of the pro forma messages of purity of purpose and unity of destiny and similar things embraced by nobody, that rally none; maybe, even including themselves. Too lacking in conviction, in emotion, in personal exemplification. There is a unique democracy of dialogue in this country: everybody says and insists that they desire the same thing; yet everybody resist and desist from actually doing anything.
Tomorrow there will be more words; more singing and exhorting (and messaging) are sure to follow. With the same old results; and the same old troubles.