The ERC was established to deal with “racial” matters in Guyana…which, most would concede is vitally necessary since “race” or “ethnicity” permeates every social interaction in our dear old mudland. Notwithstanding political correctness’ insistence that we REALLY don’t have a “race” problem and it’s only during the elections “silly season” that matters rise to the top. Like butter after churning milk! Save that what’s churned in Guyana is anything but the milk of human kindness!!!!
But for whatever reason, the organisation hasn’t made much of an impact to damp the racial tensions in the society. One reason was that for years after the formation of the ERC, the PNC insisted that its chair – Bishop Juan Edgehill – wasn’t “fit for purpose”. But what about the present? Surely the PNC has no problems with Rev Smith of the Assembly of God??
Well, the ERC stirred itself up after its somnolence over the past five years, to ask a tele-pastor to apologise for insisting that a Hindu form of worship – signalled by sticking flags into the ground in their own yards – was the cause of much of this nation’s woes. Including, evidently, our high traffic mortality. The fella immediately announced – a la Galileo – that he didn’t REALLY didn’t mean to apologise, but the ERC had reverted to its status quo ante!!
But it would appear its slumber was interrupted by events on the hustings when it announced: “So far it’s early days as yet, but we have actually identified two incidents that took place where language was used which we thought was language used to excite the crowd on the basis of racism and those incidents are – Plaisance with Mr Joseph Harmon and Kitty Market Square with Bishop Juan Edghill.”
Your Eyewitness hopes the ERC will make available the exact quotes it feels were made on the basis of “racism”. As far as he remembers, Harmon’s “objectionable” words might be referring to Mark Phillips, the PPP’s PM candidate, as a “token Black”? He also remembers that Edgehill said “PNC don’t own ‘black people’. Is this usage of “Black” “racist”?? In the US, for instance, African Americans routinely refer to themselves and are referred to as “Blacks”. Has the “N” word now been joined by the “B” word as that which cannot be uttered?
But your Eyewitness was taken aback that while the ERC is mulling over this sensitive topic, one of its members – its African-Guyanese rep – pronounced on the guilt of Edghill in his Chronic column!! While we know the ERC isn’t exactly a judicial body bound by the rule of “sub judice”, hasn’t the fella exposed his bias?
After all, he didn’t mention Harmon’s alleged “racist” transgression!!
With all due respect to the ERC, if it’s investigating Harmon for talking about possible “Black tokenism” in the choice of the PPP’s PM candidate, your Eyewitness believes this is actually the most salient issue in Guyana’s politics since the formation of the PNC in 1958 formally split the independence movement PPP along ethnic/racial lines.
For reasons far too complex to be treated in a column such as this, even though both Jagan and Burnham tried valiantly to resolve the paradox, it must be accepted it’s still an open question. We believe Phillips’ riposte to Harmon’s went to the heart of the matter. Pointing to the PNC’s tactic to use Indo-Guyanese such as Nagamootoo and Ramjattan as “tokens” in their purported coalition, Phillips posited:
“Harmon is worried. He is very worried and desperate because we in the PPP don’t just speak about racial harmony and racial unity. We in the PPP lead by example.”
The test of the (token) pudding, of course, will be the voting pattern on March 2!!
Your Eyewitness did a double take when he read that a “feasibility study plus designs” for rehabilitating the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, cost $2 billion!! That’s US$10 million!!
What made it worse is that the winning bid was for less than US$1 million!!