Repainting State House green is causing quite a stir in Guyana and the Diaspora. While this may have come as a shock to many, the warning signs were there. A quick rewind through recent time would reveal the now green edifice of the Ministry of the Presidency and its new “great fortified wall of green”.
On the surface, one can possibly, though farfetched, be convinced that the unleashing of green paint on public buildings is delivering on a campaign promise to green Guyana. Of course those with the knowledge on what “greening” in economic terms means, would not be so easily taken.
In this context, one can venture to argue that if the ongoing “greening” through paint is the manifestation of that promise, then it would not be premised in honesty. Greening in the context of economic terms basically has nothing to do with paint! Recolouring is more of an aesthetic choice and therein probably lies the reason. Over the years, local political parties have become easily recognisable by a particular colour, to the extent where it is believed that identification through pigmentation may have superseded name. Here, “painting the town red” can now connote something completely different in the current circumstances.
None can therefore doubt that the colour green has come to identify the coalition that comprises the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) which is the dominant partner in the Government; both of which the President heads. By this, one cannot be faulted for concluding that greening through the strokes of a brush is the manifestation of a political ideology which may be premised on capitalisation of identification through colour. In a more extreme case, it could possibly be considered as a form of indoctrination of young minds to what the colour green now seems to represent in Guyana.
Directly or indirectly, the intention could possibly be to impose that hue of green to maximise the effect of colour conditioning. This could be further stretched to posit that green is unblemished, the only choice and reign superior over any other. By association, these sentiments can possibly be imbued and over time, a far more dominant force can emerge. If this is the real intention, then it can be much easily realised having the reins of government in hand. While the Head of State clearly has certain prerogatives, his response of being unaware of the need for permission to repaint his official residence cannot go unnoticed.
Many have come to admire his passion for history and for his extensive writings on locally related matters. Such expansive knowledge must encompass that of monuments and landmarks, especially in a small nation like Guyana, where the numbers are not necessarily overwhelming. Time has shown that monuments are erected or so designated because of its historical value, impact and what they represent. From what has unfolded, State House is a monument and has protection through the National Trust. As in the case of monuments in almost every nation, any refurbishing or in the extreme, altering the aesthetics, must be approved by the assigned body. If not, it can be deemed an act of defacing a national landmark.
Some influential Guyanese, including a few Government apologists, have actually spoken out against the “greening” of State House. This once again demonstrates that some can indeed separate politics from issues of national concern. Those who argue that the issue is not of national concern have not taken into consideration that the protection of these landmarks are institutionalised and at the least, must be afforded the respect of a hint of intent. After all, the same taxpayers’ monies that fund the repainting, pay the officials of the National Trust. If they are going to be sidestepped, then the courtesy of their redundancy must be made official.
This action of repainting, especially to that of a politically identifiable colour, has grave impact for social cohesion on which the government continues to spend millions of taxpayers’ money through a newly established Ministry for the delivery of that mandate. Not only does the “greening” of this historical building jeopardise the efforts of social cohesion, but in some ways it probably exposes the ineffectiveness of that Ministry.
While some may have already made that conclusion before resulting from other government actions, very possibly, this is the biggest impact of the paint brushes given the reality of a divided nation and the seemingly fragile state of togetherness. One would hope that expectations for the reversal of the brushes would not be farfetched.