Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of Burnham’s death, reminding us that more than half of our population was not around when the man held life and death power over the Guyanese nation. And he used that power to grind us all into the dirt just to satisfy his insane compulsions to “remould” us in his image!! To commemorate the occasion, David Granger rolled over to the Burnham Mausoleum at Seven Ponds in the Botanical Gardens, and mourned that he wasn’t able to duplicate Burnham’s “decade of development”, which occurred between 1965 and 1975.
Well, if ever we needed a reminder of how close we were to the abyss once again, that was it!! What exactly did Burnham do in that first decade of his long and bloody reign?? Well, there are the elections of 1968 and 1973, which he massively rigged!! He thus singlehandedly destroyed the democracy our ancestors had dreamed about for centuries when they were exploited as slaves and indentured servants. Some “development”!!
Stymied with his own efforts to rig our elections in March, one suspects Granger is expressing remorse at being unable to keep his vow to “fulfill Burnham’s legacy”!!
In 1965, Burnham dissolved the ethnically balanced “Special Services Unit” which the British Governor had launched in the wake of partiality shown by the Volunteer Force during the preceding riots, and launched the Guyana Defence Force with the likes of David Granger. He insisted that the officers swear loyalty to him, and as Walter Rodney wrote just before Burnham assassinated him, “Burnham’s megalomania is closer to comedy and farce. It takes the form of wearing a General’s uniform and hoping that the army will conquer his own people.”
Burnham also nationalised the Bauxite industry at Wismar and at Kwakwani in 1970 – and just after a decade, ran it into the ground so that the Alumina plant had to be shuttered and 1600 workers fired!! When Burnham was handed the government in 1964, Bauxite workers were the highest paid in Guyana, and were the cream of the working class…but it was Burnham who made them into beggars. The problem was that Burnham didn’t want competent persons to run the industry – just those who’d be loyal to him. As Rodney pointed out, “Burnham encourages around himself individuals who are weak or corrupt, because he then exercises vicious control over them.” We can now understand why the weak Granger was one of his favourites!!
Burnham’s epitaph is also best summarised by Rodney, who advised that, “Our language must express not only ridicule, but anger and disgust” when it came to Burnham.
And that’s why they ironically called him “King Midas – “anything he touches turns to shit!”
Just like the “Sanctimonious Gangster”!!
Did you wonder why is it that in all those pics of Granger saluting Burnham’s mausoleum yesterday, there were all those purple flowers?? Well, Burnham’s megalomania didn’t just have him ridiculously strutting around in a two-star General’s outfit – when he’d never even been a Boy Scout!! He also fancied himself as ROYALTY!! So his favourite colour was “purple”, the colour of royalty!!
We return to Rodney, who has some advice for the present generation on Burnham, whom Granger idolises: “Dictators have a way of building statues in their own image. When a dictator is overthrown, the population seizes the chance to destroy or remove the various things which were meant to glorify him. But (also)the population must learn to despise the falsehoods which surround the man; they must refuse to accept that he has any halo of greatness around him.
“They must remove any confusion in their own minds and see the dictator clearly for what he is — a villain and a monster, the principal enemy of the people!”
Finally, Rodney informed us: “In Latin America, the dictators are known as “gorillas” — as distinct from the freedom fighters, who are “guerrillas.”
We want it known that Guyana too has its “gorilla,” and that he is appropriately named “King Kong.”
That’s the real Burnham.