Well, your Eyewitness didn’t have much hope the Emancipation Day celebrations would offer a respite from the divisive politics in our nation – which inevitably boils down to ethnic mobilisation and ethnic fragmentation. After all, he couldn’t possibly have missed the intensification of the linkages by the supposedly cultural institutions in the African Guyanese constituency and the PNC.
With its admission that it needed Indian Guyanese votes in 2015 to carry it over the electoral line, the PNC finally admitted it had been unable to break out of the straitjacket created by Forbes Burnham when he broke from the PPP in 1955. Ethnic identity was created in Guyana after the freed slaved tried to assert their humanity in the face of hundreds of years of being told they were nobody. The Christian Churches that were placed in charge of the “schools” in the post-slavery era pretty much tried to create an identity of “Black” White men.
But there always survived an underground stream of African practices that could be later nourished. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Independence movement after WWII coincided with the Black Power Movement and provided the impetus for peoples of African origin to seek their roots and give meaning to the “Emancipation” which, by then, hadn’t done much for them. But Walter Rodney offered a biting critique of most of the political leaders who arose during that time: he called them “briefcase revolutionaries”.
That is, they had no real connection and identification with the African masses who still formed the bulk of the community. Rather than initiating fundamental changes to improving their lot – including their view of themselves – they were simply used as voting cannon fodder to deliver the “briefcases” signalling “power” from the departed colonial power. When the briefcase revolutionary Burnham tried to ingratiate himself with the real revolutionary African leadership in Africa, Walter Rodney unmasked him. He exposed Burnham’s opportunism to go along with the imperialist divisions of the working masses in the nationalist PPP on ethnic lines, and made him a pariah.
David Granger and the present leaders in the PNC are all cut from the same cloth as Burnham: they see the African masses as means to their ends of securing power for their own self-aggrandisement. The few surviving members of Rodney’s WPA, who joined the PNC in coalition, have betrayed the great man’s principled stance that non-tokenestic multiracialism is non-negotiable in Guyanese politics.
As such, the PNC and its camp followers from the African organisations used the Emancipation Day celebrations to preach ethnic supremacy.
Listening to them, you’d never suspect Emancipation led to a mosaic of Guyana as a land of six equal peoples.
…and Dutch Disease
One wonders why the PNC insists on keeping Winston Jordan as Finance Minister. They really believe a career number cruncher from the Budget Office can articulate a vision for an economy on the cusp of an oil revolution?? Every time the man opens his mouth, he slips his size 12 shoes into it!! He recently castigated Guyanese workers for being too “high priced”, and welcomed the news of Venezuelans, Haitians and Cubans pouring into the country to undercut their wages!! This in the face of historically high unemployment – with the youth component above 40 per cent – and poverty rates still in the 30 per cent range!!
Following hard on the heels of that chunk of idiocy, he just announced that “Dutch Disease” has already infected Guyana even though we haven’t even seen first oil. He, of course, was completely oblivious of the fact that the phenomenon has been publicised for decades so that Ministries like his could’ve unrolled strategic measures to head off the “Disease”.
Slavery made human beings “chattel”— just like pieces of furniture. If Emancipation meant anything, it was that we could chart our destiny.
Yet today, the Constitution we forged to guide us there is being trampled into the mud!!