Kissoon blind to the needs of ordinary Indian folks

Dear Editor,

Consumed by his narcissism, Frederick Kissoon knows no bounds in expressing disparagement to those who call for the dignity and expression of ‘Indianness’ or Indian culture. His March 7 column is a case in point where he lambasted Indian activists after they commemorated the 100th anniversary of the abolition of Indian indentureship.

Kissoon reserves his harshest diatribes for those who represent the Indian cause. Is it because a black rights activist (more than a decade ago) warned that only those who are black are entitled to criticise blacks? Are the regular maledictions a vainglorious attempt to retain his fans of a certain ilk to give him the daily pat on the back? Or is it more personal? Whatever the case, the columnist proves habitually that he has no integrity or spine.

In a letter published in another section of the media in 2014, Kissoon, in a lengthy epistle, demonstrated his support for another letter writer on why Indians are too absorbed in Indian culture and why it was amiss to fall into the ecstasy of Indian music, such as Sonu Nigam’s indomitable “Kal Ho Na Ho”. As far as I know, the prolific writer has never mentioned such ‘impropriety’ of other ethnic cultures. Why has this columnist chosen only to fumigate on “these people” (quoting from that letter). Does Mr Kissoon have the guts to write against those who are caught in the euphoria of the dancehall artistes that frequent Guyana?

What does Frederick Kissoon know about Indians?

I shall never forget the occasion sitting next to the brother of a victim of the Lusignan massacre in that village in 2010. The event was marked with the attendance of political, cultural, religious and community leaders. That gentleman expressed his sincere appreciation of the event to me after the function was over. He articulated how the occasion is helping him to cope with the slaughter of his brother and the other 10 victims. The service was punctuated by music, poetry and mini-sermons and other reflections by religious, cultural and political leaders which served as a balm to the troubled souls in that community.

Kissoon is too blind to the needs of ordinary Indian folks such as the families of the Lusignan victims. The columnist conceived that the event was a purely a political plot aimed at vote-getting. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Speaking with the victims’ families and other villagers, they expressed that gathering and speaking about the event helped in healing the wounds – wounds which are still open. Unlike Kissoon, Ryhaan Shah feels with the Indians. I attended an event at Lusignan Community Centre a few years ago where Shah met many of the victims’ families. Kissoon, on the other hand, is unable to cry for those of another ilk; pity.

With rants like that of Kissoon’s column, Indians (as well as other ethnic groups) ought to be more resolute and relentless in pursuing “Garv aur Izzat” – pride and dignity.

In countries such as America and Canada, those of Irish descent celebrate “Irish”; similarly, the Italians express pride of their Italian heritage. Like other cultures, Indian history, music, art, literature and people in Guyana are worthy of honour and distinction.


Devanand Bhagwan