Last night, Guyanese Hindus celebrated the festival of light – Divali, translated as “a row of light”. It is not coincidental that in all civilizations, around this time of the year, there is or was a festival that involved lights. This includes the lighted “Christmas Tree”, which goes back to the pagan use of burning fires in the “dead of winter”. Their symbolism could not have been lost on Christians, who adopted the pagan Yule log and began bringing evergreen trees into their homes during the winter.
Ancient man would have been in trepidation as the winter nights became increasingly longer, and would have been impelled on the longest night of the year, on which Divali, for instance, falls, to reverse the process with their lights. It was not only the symbolism for that moment, but in its totality, as, the next day, the days would become longer, along with the life-giving light and heat of the sun that is necessary for the food bearing crops to sprout and grow. Extending the metaphor, the increasing and encroaching darkness became identified with all activities that were anti-life, and which sometimes increase to a point where it threatens to overcome our collective existence in the societies we have created.
But, as in nature, mankind discovered that, eventually, the encroaching pall brought on by the dark deeds of some in society will be reversed. But each one of us has to do our bit with our positive actions as points of light to achieve that happy ending. In Guyana, we have been hit simultaneously with two palls of darkness: the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and the elections crisis brought on the rigging attempt by the PNC-as-APNU/AFC.
And both will have to be rolled back by the light of knowledge that must be lit in, and maintained by, each of us. For COVID-19, we have been given the knowledge that if we observe the rules of social distancing, wear masks, wash hands, and get tested if we exhibit symptoms of elevated temperatures and breathing difficulties, then we should be able to roll back this pandemic. The problem is that too many citizens are ignoring these rules, and, as such, are complicit in ensuring the COVID-19 darkness remains with us far longer than necessary. China, S. Korea and other countries in the Far East demonstrate that COVID-19 can be contained by following the preferred guidelines.
With the darkness of the elections crisis, the initial stage where, for five months, the PNC and their enablers held off the announcement of the elections’ results through a combination of blatant fraud, such as the fudging of the Reg 4 SOPs by the GECOM Regional Officer Mingo and insubordination by the GECOM CEO Lowenfield, is thankfully over. But we are far from overcoming the machinations of the PNC to claw their way back into power by any means necessary.
They have filed two election petitions in the courts to challenge the final count announced by GECOM, as required by the Constitution. This is legally permissible, and as such is not actually the cause of the continuing darkness, but merely occasion for it. The Opposition Leader – while accepting his designation and all the benefits that flow from it, including his salary – has continued to refer to the Government as “illegitimate” even as that party demand that the Government engage them in talks on “inclusive governance”.
The dangers presented by the PNC’s truculent stance is twofold. Firstly, there is the continued callusing of the constitutional sinews that provide the framework of our legal order. It began with the refusal to obey such clear-cut directions that a Government should resign from office upon the passing of an NCM. Secondly, and most immediately, the historical post-electoral record of the PNC, which includes their “slow fyaah; mo’fyaah” strategy that segued into open attacks on the state, has the country on edge.
Guyanese need to dispel the darkness of PNC bullyism.