Well, thank goodness for President Ali. As you’d know by now, your Eyewitness has been in a tizzy over the visiting African royalty. But for some obscure reason, their hosts have been keeping them under wraps. He couldn’t see head nor hair – or Dhuku (headdress!) – of our exalted visitors!! Naïve him had expected that the exalted personages would’ve been taken around the country to allow us in the boondocks to get a glimpse.
Back in the 1950s, a Nigerian prince – who just happened to be studying at Harvard – was brought to Guyana and taken on a tour of the country. He did stir a lot of pride in a people who were still being fed – through Tarzan movies — that Africans were living in huts in the jungle. In those days to call someone “African” was “fightin’ words” – as was “Black”!! “Negro” was the preferred term. How things change!!
Sadly, touring wasn’t on the cards and your Eyewitness worries the Royals didn’t get a glimpse of how their people – who’d been sold into bondage – lived on the plantations. As it is, they probably will leave believing that the millions shipped across the Atlantic hung out in cities. Now, from what he read, it seems that most of the royals were from South Africa and Lesotho – far from where most of our African Guyanese originated. He wonders how they relate to the descendants of slaves who are not part of their tribes. Your Eyewitness did feel he was in the presence of African Royalty once when he heard the inimitable Miriam Makeba sing “Mama Africa”!
And then came the Emancipation Gala at State House on Sunday night – the eve of Emancipation Day – and there were the Royals in all their glory!! Your Eyewitness must say they did look stately!! They did seem to have brought along their own “Princess Diana” – in the personage of young Princess Lindiwe, daughter of Queen Mzilikazi. Seems she just captivated everyone. It would appear that the Queen made the local head of the Reparations Committee into a Zulu Chief – but he hasn’t caught up with Zulu history as yet. He introduced Queen Mzilikazi as “descended from Shaka Zulu” but actually she’s descended from a lieutenant of that great king – who became a great king in his own right. Anyhow Zulus are allowed up to five wives and your Eyewitness wonders whether the local Zulu Chief will run afoul of the local laws on polygamy!!
President Ali seemed to have pulled out all the stops to make his guests feel welcome – even breaking out into enthusiastic dance moves. Prudently, he didn’t attempt the Zulu Indlamu dance.
This involves a high kick above one’s head then falling on one’s behind!!
…for One Guyana
President Ali took the opportunity at the State House Emancipation Bash to expand on his Administration’s “One Guyana” policy. Seems it actually comes out of the notion of our “one humanity” which, he informed us, is part and parcel of all religious teachings. Used to the PPP’s avoidance of religious beliefs to ground political action, your Eyewitness is pleased.
But he was reminded that in his address to Parliament back in Feb 2021, Pres Ali had announced that “the path to this “oneness” would include an Act of Parliament establishing a “One Guyana Commission” which will be led by Prime Minister Mark Phillips.” Has the Commission been launched??
“The work of the Commission would be countrywide, and it would listen to the free expressions of all voices, concerning ways in which every Guyanese can honour their ancestral heritage while giving the highest regard to our blended Guyanese civilisation,” the President had explained.
After the high point of the Emancipation gala, it’s time for the Commission!
President Ali didn’t take kindly to the snub by Congressman Hakeem Sekou Jeffries – in refusing to meet him. Knowing its genesis in kvetching by malcontents close to Jeffries, your Eyewitness isn’t sure why the President’s surprised.