Worthy traits of being an elder in a democratic Guyanese society

Dear Editor,
Having suffered over three decades of autocratic rule under three different PNC regimes, Guyanese – within the past three decades – have found themselves in the fortunate and envious position of residing in a democratic nation with the restoration of all civil liberties. Gone are the days of rigged elections, press censorship, denial of rights to protest, suppression of opposition voices, paramountcy (supreme power) of the party and its accompanied trappings of party loyalty.
These once denied democratic rights and privileges, restored when the PPP/C first succeeded in gaining political office through internationally monitored elections, have now become commonplace in every sector of Guyanese society. So, it is disheartening, and even disdainful, to hear Hamilton Green advocate for opposition forces’ acquisition of political power through rigged elections.
As Green puts it, “As I told one of the groups I met with this morning, if they say you rig elections, I say we should keep rigging to save ourselves from these devils…”
To say Green’s call is lamentable is putting it mildly; for here is a man who, for over sixty years, served in various prominent governmental positions, including that of Vice President and Prime Minister, openly advocating for rigged elections. Why? Is it because of the lust for power, prominence, or envy of the democratically elected PPP/C Government? Or, could it be because of the accrued benefits derived from rigging, which are difficult to acquire from participating in fair and free democratic elections?
Lamentably, Green’s statement is not only abominable; it is dismaying, coming from a man who often personifies himself as “Elder.” “Elder” in Biblical reference is someone who commands respect and reverence through grace and humility; someone who guides people towards a peaceful and harmonious existence.
Similarly, in African societies, an “Elder” is someone who has acquired experience and wisdom over the years, and who utilizes this knowledge to counsel and guide the young in leading virtuous and productive lives. In short, being an “Elder” is the epitome of humane attributes, the acquisition of exceptional personal characteristics with the coming of age.
Green, like my Nigerian friend Olu, is an individual of advanced age. But does this singular characteristic make him an “Elder”? I think not. According to Olu – who by profession is a cultural Anthropologist – an African “Elder” uses swords sparingly, and refrains from using insulting, demeaning, or negative remarks against another. Does Green exemplify these attributes?
Interestingly, young Nigerian and Ghanian PhDs at the university where Olu taught regularly addressed him as Oba (Chief). Upon entering his office door, they would stoop slightly in salutation to Olu, in recognition of his role and demeanor as an “Elder.” In reciprocation, Olu would greet them with kind words, and impart guidance for their harmonious coexistence. Can the self-acclaimed “Elder” Green, with his regular racist, divisive, incendiary rhetoric and commentaries, say the same?
Could it be that former Prime Minister Green has difficulty differentiating the worthy from the unworthy? That is, personal age-related behaviours and traits that bestow upon an individual the status of “Elder” in a democratic society? Given his birth and grounding in the ethically and racially pluralistic Guyana, one would have expected the aged Green to acknowledge that humane coexistence is essential in the building of a democratic Guyanese society, that election rigging disenfranchises the electorate, relegates power in the hands of political riggers, and promotes disharmony among citizens, whose interdependency is the very foundation of daily existence. Is such the intent?
Given the forgoing, it is perhaps worthy to remind the surviving PNC leader that we may differ racially and ethnically, but as a nation of six peoples, we constitute One Humane Guyanese identity – the bridging of diversity into a national unity, as promoted by the current PPP/C Government.
Given the above, I now submit to the readers’ judgement as arbiters. What are your thoughts?

Narayan Persaud, PhD