Most of the verities on which countries base their vision of themselves are – upon scrutiny – found to be based on myths. Thomas Jefferson, the “great Democrat” who helped to write the American Constitution that inspired the world to strive for equality, not only insisted that Africans were only three-fifths human, in his personal life, he kept a Black concubine who bore him children who were also deemed to be not “fully human”. Not to forget that the great defender of “reason”, John Locke, worked for the East India Company as it looted and ravaged India.
Well, in Guyana, we’ve got more than our fair share of myths. But with our state barely 50 years old, some of them just stick out like sore thumbs to gouge us in the eyes. Can’t ignore their cynicism, much less be inspired by them. For instance, there’s the myth of Burnham “leading” us to independence!! Some leading all right…but certainly not to independence! The strategic disaster to please the British – who’d handed him the country on a platter – led to the Geneva Convention that Venezuela used – and still use – as a Sword of Damocles over our heads.
But it’s his jaundiced use of our Indigenous Peoples that sticks in your Eyewitness’s craw, with Republic Day just around the corner. This was the day in 1970 that Guyana severed the last governmental ties with the British Crown, when the latter’s “Governor General” was replaced by our “President”. More to the point, the British now had no legal ground to object to Burnham’s “dictatorship in the making”.
The cynicism was on display when he picked an Independence celebration from the Upper Demerara mining settlements of Mackenzie, Wismar and Cummingsburg as our National Republican Festival. The communities had just sycophantically adopted his name “Linden”, as they were declared a “township”. You know where the breeze was blowing from! But Burnham was creating a myth to cover his one-man rule. The Linden community had arbitrarily chosen the name “Mashramani” for the festival on the claim that it was an Arawak word for “celebration after a hard day’s work”.
All subsequent research has shown that there’s no such word for any such celebration. It was all made up to show inclusivity! The celebration of Republicanism is based on a big, fat lie – as was the attainment of that Republicanism!! The goal, of course, was to tell the world that Burnham and the PNC were incorporating the Indigenous Peoples into Guyana’s development.
As we now know fifty-one years later, nothing could be further from the truth: the Indigenous Peoples were left in their state of underdevelopment all through the PNC years.
Time for this myth to be jettisoned!
You don’t have to be reminded, dear reader, that your Eyewitness wears his cricket mania on his sleeves. “What do they know of cricket that only cricket knows?” asked CLR James. For us West Indians, we know its influence goes way “beyond the boundary” and, indeed, permeates our very soul. Your Eyewitness is skeptical of the loyalty of anyone who claims to be “West Indian” but isn’t besotted by cricket. In all its glorious contradictions!
He feels that in terms of Guyana’s role in the regional game, we’ve arrived at a crossroad – and he hopes the powers-that-be don’t muck it up because of their egos. He’s talking, of course, about the unique opportunity that’s presented itself: a Guyanese, for the first time, has a shot of becoming the President of Cricket West Indies!
From the experience of the other cricketing nations, the success and even the survival of the game depends on its administration.
So, c’mon guys, let’s not derail Sanasie’s March to CWI Presidency.
The G/town Mayor was all “big and bad” a year ago, when he berated the owner of Giftland for owing $100M in taxes as a “dead beat”. The owner had – not coincidentally – called on the PNC to accept the elections’ results!
Eat humble pie, Mayor!