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The recent upset victory by the West Indies cricket team in Bangladesh was a wakeup call for all West Indians. It was a reminder to the sons and daughters of bondage that we have not lost our appetite for imagining something different and better than the rut we have found ourselves in as a region. Why cricket? And why this particular performance?
It was our own scholar-philosopher CLR James who alerted us to the linkage between our cricket and the evolution of the West Indian nation. No other West Indian endeavor has brought so much joy and pride to us West Indians. We have not as a collective agonized more over any area of our struggle to shine than in cricket. Always, when our spirits are down, it is cricket that we turn to for hope and reassurance that we as worthy as others.
For the last three decades our Caribbean has searched for a dignified answer to the onslaught of Structural Adjustment and Globalization which have conspired to take us back to plantationhood. The woes have multiplied and have now been compounded by the COVOD19 pandemic. As the Black Stalin so prophetically sang almost three decades ago—“The Caribbean crying/ The Caribbean bawling”. The poor in our midst are the extreme victims. They have not been able to turn to their political leaders for help.’
We watch as Manley’s Democratic Socialism, Burnham’s Cooperative socialism. Williams’ and Barrow’s Welfare State and Rodney’s and Bishop’s revolution have been dismantled by the force of the market and its individualism. Amidst this turmoil, our cricket glory ended abruptly. For the last three decades we have become not producers of pride, but producers of cricket’s raw material for the word’s private market driven not by nation and imagination, but by capitalist greed.
Here in Guyana, the wrath of ethnic domination has been visited upon us as never before. The Welfare State was replaced by the Criminalized State. The dream of a multiethnic democracy has been dashed as the reality of the Ethnic-Dominant State has taken root. A short respite (2015-20) has been blown away by the force of Empire. We sit at the edge of the water and wonder if the salt of the earth would benefit from the newly found Oil and Gas.
In the midst of these woes, we must as we have always done, reach deep within us to a place which the drunken leaders and their allies, domestic and global, cannot bulldoze. Always, our men and now women with bat and ball in the open space have showed us a way out of the valley of despair. It is not winning the game by this so-called second-string team that matters, but the character of the victory. It was a moment of self-emancipation.
Guyanese must take note. Strangled as we are by the agents of doom and demise, we must fight back like the West Indies team in Bangladesh. It was our West Indian Claude McKay who urged us at another time to fight back.
If we must die, let it not be like hogs.
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain, then even the monsters we defy.
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!