It frequently happens in Guyana that folks who stop me at various times to say thanks for the columns will often ask, “You do this every week, no breaks; how do you keep coming up with the topics?” In fact, as I perhaps mentioned before, it’s exactly like songs: ideas come from everywhere, sometimes out of left field, so that although I’ve been doing this for about 8 years now, it is a rare week when I’m in a panic because I have no subject in mind. I won’t say it never happens, but it’s rare and it’s rare because the ideas just land on me from a range of sources. This week, for instance, I had two topics in mind, and out of the blue I saw an online FB feature by the High Commission of India, Georgetown, on our well-known local singer Lisa Punch who had recorded a video of Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan ‘Vaishnava Jan To’
Perhaps intended to coincide with Indian Arrival Day the feature drew a host of comments applauding the performance but also pointing to it as a demonstration of the diversities in our culture.
In a way, that episode caused one to reflect on the irony involved in that we have, on the one hand, the call for us in the political arena here in recent times, coming from many quarters, regarding the urgent need for Guyana to bridge the racial division that gets frequent mention particularly now, as an election is on the horizon. Indeed, one is left to wonder why the connection triggered by the Lisa Punch recording is not front and centre daily in the lives of Guyanese and the obvious answer is that political purposes will often cross over into matters of everyday living and mitigate, or even eliminate, them in a society. We see this happening starkly right now in Trump’s America where the white supremacists are again in the news beating the drums of “those other folks”, particularly striking in a nation that often holds up itself as an example of the so-called “salad bowl” mix of society with all ingredients having important value…..