Among the many items on the varied ‘to do’ list for Guyana’s new government, the problem of falling standards in our society is being raised frequently by social commentators, and in the very early days following the election President Granger has raised this matter, both specifically and by alluding to it, in several of his speeches.
Here are two incidents with a common thread. The first came in a recent interview on the Charlie Rose television programme in the USA.
With the election dust almost settled, I have some suggestions for important items the new government needs to tackle as soon as it gets in harness, but I am sure there will be a flood of other voices raising suggestions – some have already begun – so I’ve decided to shelve my big items for now and focus on some of the minor irritations or inefficiencies that we have to wrestle with every day, in the hope that the folks coming into power may be listening.
Sometimes in life we are in the middle of a major social transition on a national scale, but the intensity of the movement and the frenzy of it can often reach such a pitch that we are not able to see past the furor and recognize, at a deeper level, the fundamental alteration that is taking place.
Sports psychologist and medical doctor Rudi Webster, who has written often on West Indies cricket, gave a very detailed speech on that subject at a recent sport seminar in Barbados where he outlined some qualities missing from our recent teams.
From the time I launched Tradewinds in Trinidad in 1967, I have been to Guyana almost every year, sometimes twice a year.
In the building of reputations, be it in tourism attractions, or in a doctor’s practice, even for the best laundry soap, nothing is as immediately effective as the power of word-of-mouth.
Frankly speaking, as my columnist friend Alan Fenty would say, I have mixed feelings about the English.
I’m not big on “long time” – I remember it as a lot of hard time – but there are instances where I suddenly regret some aspect of life from that era that’s no longer around.
When I was growing up in Guyana in West Dem, we had no electricity in our house, no telephone, and, in the early days, not even a radio.
From in front, be clear: I love a lot of things about America.
Two things you should know about me: one is that I’m Guyanese from head to toe.
Given the aggravations of daily life in Guyana, citizens are in need of some occasional light-heartedness to restore the human spirit, and this week, with the politics at full boil, one came for me via an email to his friends from Alex Neptune, who lives in New York with long roots reaching back here.
Historically, trends in popular music are gradual processes moving in small increments, so that, for example, the demise of big-band music of the 1940s, the era of Glen Miller, Woody Herman, Count Basie, etc, was a slow decline, gradually giving way to the small groups and combos that would dominate the music scene 20 years later as rock-and-roll was born.
There can no longer be any serious debate about it: wherever we aim our gaze, the evidence is clearly before us now that Guyana must find a way to get off this fractured political path that has bedevilled us since independence.
Guyana is awash, virtually daily, with an array of ‘bad news’ stories. The ‘good news’ items are around, but they don’t always make the headlines; they remain invisible.
Life in Guyana can be a series of puzzlements or strange behaviours that often remain unexplained, or not attended to, sometimes for years after they emerge.
You can identify change in the world by reading lengthy polemics, or by examining complex data, or by attending scientific forums.
Stabroek News this week carried a photograph by Arian Browne of a solitary minibus driving on the Seawall Road in broad daylight.
With much of Guyana undeveloped, and not even fully explored, the conditions of daily living in some of the country, particularly the interior, have produced some very tough individuals, with both the physical and mental strength to overcome adversity.
New Year resolutions and advice are upon us, and following the barometer of “goat ain’t bite me,” I offer a hand for coping with life in any year.
As the New Year dawns with West Indies cricket fortunes continuing the same old gloomy, we are seeing yet another series of calls for major surgery on the organization in charge of our cricket.
As the year winds down to find us surrounded by daily news of mankind apparently going downhill, both at home and abroad, one can easily begin to harbour feelings of despair.
Whales are not at home in shallow water. Their territory is the deep, 200 feet or more.
It’s not nature’s topography; the complex pattern of waterways draining our coastland wasn’t always there.
Followers of this column will know I’m always preaching that we should, whenever possible, present both sides of the coin when we’re discussing issues in the homeland; that as we take time to rightfully criticize the shortcomings, we should also be pointing to the good news happenings as they occur.
Six years ago, within weeks of my return to live in Guyana, I was in conversation with a very well-known Guyanese – someone I admired but had never met – and he suddenly said to me, “Dave, what are you doing coming back to live in this godforsaken country?” I pointed out to him that he was also still here, and we both laughed over the remark.
It pops up constantly. It never truly goes away. This week, it came at me again in an email from my friend Ken Corsbie, living in North Carolina, as he relayed a collection of complaints from folks in his generation; their problem was dissatisfaction with the state of popular music today, and the language was on the strong side.
As we sit right now in the middle of a firestorm in the media and elsewhere enveloping the West Indies Cricket Board following the abrupt cancellation of the India series by our team, one is left to wonder how long it is going to take to convince us that our regional cricket arrangement needs urgent revision.
Hardly a week goes by without some reference in the media to the depressing statistics of the number of Guyanese who continue to migrate.
There will be disputations about this one, but I will stand my ground: overall, in a region of powerhouses, with many different island cultures competing, the Jamaican version today is probably the most dynamic of them all.
I enjoy writing these So it go columns partly because I’m free to pick my subjects (which annoys some columnists, but who’s stopping them from doing the same?) and partly because of the feedback from readers – in online comments, in phone calls, or in face-to-face encounters in town.
His name is actually Jerry Goveia, but folks refer to him as ‘Banks Jerry’ (he worked as a manager at Banks DIH for many years before his retirement) to differentiate him from the other guy, the pilot one, with the same-sounding name, and he actually came to mind recently after a column I wrote on flamboyant Guyanese from times past, not in the sense of being flamboyant but as one of those people who leave an impression on you that endures.
I am likely to get a lot of flak from some Guyanese for saying this, but it seems to me by just looking around at the kind of people one encounters in our country these days that we had far more flamboyant folks in times gone by.
In the Cayman Islands, where I once lived, a part of the culture there, as in Guyana where I grew up, is a toy called ‘gigs’ (our word for it is ‘tops’).
In the case of Guyana, we’re talking about two contrasting, even conflicting, sets of values and priorities for living, gradually formed and developed and ingrained, for over 150 years.
Punctuality is a big thing with me. From a boy, as the Jamaicans say, I’ve been that way mainly, I believe, from the example of my mother who was always on time or early for everything.
I don’t get golf, and never did. People say that’s because I never played the game.
I’m admitting it from the start: I am not a fisherman. I never was.
Like any poor country, Guyana is replete with occasions for despair about standards in everyday life.
At some point, almost every time I perform, I make reference to the value and beauty of our various Caribbean dialects.
In recent days, with the CPL centre stage in the Caribbean, concurrent with England/Sri Lanka Test matches in the UK, we are seeing quite a contrast in cricket compared to the sport most senior folks grew up with in the region reaching back to the Union Jack days.
Song-writers are essentially observers; that’s where the process begins; that’s where the ideas or interpretations or slants that song-writers present in a song originate.
Among human beings caught up in a hectic life, it is often the case that a thought will come across our mental screen, sometimes from a comment overheard, or a sign encountered, or even from a prolonged and heated public discussion, and the thought flits in and flits out and is gone.
God knows if I’ll ever finish it, but after several proddings from various quarters I have begun writing a book.
We have rock stars in the Caribbean; we don’t call them that, but, in the North American meaning of the term, that’s what they are.
The folks in tourism have it right when they talk about the Guyanese treasures we have, particularly in the interior, for visitors.
When I was a youngster growing up in West Demerara and going to Saints, we usually headed for the Pomeroon in the August school break.
In my early life, that stretch when Tradewinds began, a young man from Linden, living in Toronto, got very annoyed with me over a song.
The cliché about a picture being the descriptive equivalent of a thousand words remains relevant because like every cliché it conveys some essential truth.