Shame on the hypocrites for equating present day Afro-Guyanese living to slavery

Adviser to the Health Ministry, Dr Leslie Ramsammy

Roysdale Forde is the latest of a bunch of PNC leaders and sycophants who, in the wake of an apology from the Gladstone family for the sins of their ancestors, accused President Irfaan Ali and his Government of being no different from the slave owners. Forde’s characterisation of President Ali is an insult to the very Afro-Guyanese that he claimed President Ali has been treating as slaves. Even more reprehensible is that Forde further inflicts injustice on the hundreds of thousands who came to Guyana as slaves, whose blood and sweat are mixed in the soil of this country. He willingly or unwittingly compared the lives that slaves lived to the way their descendants today live. It is preposterous, and it is unforgiveable that Forde and others compare the lives of Afro-Guyanese today to slavery. In likening President Ali to slave owners like John Gladstone, Forde and the others have shamefully diminished and trivialised the brutality and criminality of slavery by equating the lives of slaves to the lives of their descendants today.
Today, the descendants of slaves and indentured have jobs they are paid for. In Guyana, these descendants earn wages and salaries that are not the best in the world, but are better than descendants of slaves earn today in many countries. Certainly, the daily and annual wages and salaries earned by Guyanese workers, almost all of whom are descendants of slaves and indentured, are better than, or equal to, most countries from which the slaves and indentured came.
In Guyana today, all of our professionals, including lawyers, doctors, professors, are descendants of slaves and indentured; more than 99% of all descendants of slaves and indentured are literate; many own their own homes; all are free to travel wherever they want; all can vote for a Government of their choice; many own businesses. The lives of descendants are far different from the lives of their ancestors.
Forde himself was a member of Parliament when his then President, David Granger, and his Government did nothing to improve the wages and salaries of Guyanese citizens. Instead, Granger and his cabinet members took more than a 100% pay increase, and increased all their allowances, while at the same time telling the public servants, most of whom are descendants of slaves, they must have patience.
Granger had argued that he needed first to increase his and his ministers’ salaries in order to remove the temptation of bribes. Public servants’ salaries have jumped significantly more in the last three years than salaries increased when Forde’s party was in power for five years. Is Forde ready to tell Granger that he was as evil as the slave owners?
Roysdale Forde and the sycophants are shameless for dismissing President Ali’s demand for reparations and his call for posthumous criminal charges against those who promoted slavery and who owned slaves.
Slaves lived in horrid conditions in what could be described as nothing more than pig pens, courtesy of the slave owners. Today, most of their descendants live in their own homes. Forde’s hero, Forbes Burnham, ruled this country with an iron fist, while promising everyone to “house, clothe and feed” them. By the time Burnham died and by the time the dictatorship he started was over in 1992, thousands of the descendants of slaves were squatters. Instead of continuing Cheddi Jagan’s movement to house people, Burnham closed the Housing Ministry and forced people to live as squatters. Will Forde deem Burnham similar to the slave owners?
The PPP changed that reality between 1992 and 2015, distributing more than 120,000 house lots and overseeing the construction of almost 100,000 new homes for Guyanese, the overwhelming majority of whom are descendants of slaves and indentured. The dramatic turnaround in home ownership that occurred after 1992 increased consistently on an annual basis until 2015, particularly between 2006 and 2015, when Dr. Irfaan Ali was Minister of Housing.
It was in 2015 that the rapid increase in home ownership suddenly crashed to a halt. Granger and the PNC, Roysdale Forde’s party, literally closed the Housing Ministry, downgrading it to a department. In five years in Government, the charlatans barely managed to create 100 housing units, most of which remained unoccupied by August 2020. It was President Ali that resuscitated the housing programme. He had promised 50,000 new house lots. In just three years, more than 25,000 house lots have been distributed, and most of those who have already received their house lots have constructed, or are in the process of constructing, their own homes.
Incidentally, the only ones who improved their housing while the PNC was in power between 1964 and 1992 and between 2015 and 2020 were PNC ministers and their families and friends, and those who were given posh jobs.
Slaves were properties of their owners. Which person in Guyana today is owned by President Ali? It is an unforgiveable insult to tell Guyanese today that they are the property of any individual. But it is Forde and his comrades who usually describe Afro-Guyanese who refuse to be their sycophants as ‘house slaves”. If there is anyone in Guyana today who have tried denying people their rights, it is those in charge of the PNC. For every election between 1964 and 1992, the PNC rigged the elections, denying citizens their fundamental rights. In 2020, in spite of those who claimed the PNC would have changed, the PNC tried in plain sight to thief the elections. The only political party that has ever tried to abrogate the rights of people on a large scale in Guyana is Forde’s party. Yet he has the temerity to demand an apology from President Ali for treating people like slaves.
It is preposterous, downright shameless, and he owes President Ali and the Guyanese people an apology.