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Over the past few months, articles and editorials particularly in the Stabroek News and Kaieteur News have dealt with the daunting questions of electoral reform with expectations that our racial divide and political polarization can be solved by adjustments legal and otherwise of electoral system.
They all expect that this will bring us into the arms of what we have been tutored over the years to be democracy.
Last Sunday, 21st of March, Kaieteur News had an excellent Editorial.
The analysis was in order, however, not surprisingly, there was an element of skepticism.
A skepticism, shared by many of us, even as the named Leader of the Opposition has written to the new Chairman of CARICOM seeking CARICOM’s mediation to address the present Government-Opposition impasse.
Earlier, the question of electoral reform was raised.
Here, I repeat my position I took some time ago, that the mere tinkering of the Constitution and Electoral Laws in isolation to the wider problem is unlikely to achieve our hopes for a united Good and Glorious Guyana.
Of course, we have had the recommendation of a wag who suggested that we hold elections and that under a more sophisticated form of proportional representation that the cabinet should consist of members based on the quantity of votes obtained by each contesting party.
I told my friends that will create an even greater difficulty when it comes to identifying portfolios and the resources to be allocated and worst of all, it will produce a plethora of political aspirants.
Last Saturday on the popular call in programme, Channel 6 – Voice of the People, one caller confidently said the answer was to put an Indo-Guyanese to head the PNC and an Afro-Guyanese to head the PPP.
I said to him, that would be “cosmetic,” and would fail to address the nature of our polarization and our history. I failed to convince him.
The two major and some may say, contending ethnic groups in Guyana came out of interesting experiences.
The Africans came out of a well-entrenched tribal system, and the Indo-Guyanese, out of a caste system.
Few academics, philosophers and teachers have taken the trouble to analyze the lingering effects of attitudes and responses many generations later.
Deep attitudes, beliefs and responses linger on in the subconscious for many, many generations.
But we can deal with that at another time.
For now, CARICOM and the ABC countries, the EU and those who really wish to help us must come to grips with the deeper issues and foster programmes to educate the masses and leaders at all levels.
We must boldly teach and explain this question of identity.
This itself takes us over the first hurdle in our quest to make a reality of our oft-time repeated slogan of being One People.
Our media with capable operatives needs to play an important role in this process.
This teaching will allow all of our people to appreciate the essence of what I call cultural values.
Values which should produce Guyanese and their leaders who value the essential elements of goodness identified in our responses and theology.
When CARIFESTA was created in 1972, the first cultural presentation in the Caribbean, it was intended to harmonize and not only put on display music, poetry, dance and themes of all segments of Guyanese and the wider Caribbean culture.
Unfortunately, since the 1972 CARIFESTA effort, some see it only as an opportunity to showcase the talent of individuals and groups and have missed the bigger objective of harmonizing the various strands existing in our societies.
Like the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, this understanding of our various beliefs, would wash the shores of Jamaica and Cuba right through to the Republic of Guyana.
Unfortunately, in Guyana and the region, democracy as practiced in Guyana and elsewhere simply translates the various forms of majoritarian rule, even where the governing Party does not represent a majority, in the true sense of the word.
Majority must not merely be the question of mathematics and percentages
Fifty-one (51%) percent is translated to mean one hundred (100%)percent governance.
The words of Landor, that democracy is always the work of Kings. Ashes, which in themselves are sterile, fertilize the land they are cast upon.
These words crossed my mind when I re-read Sunday’s Kaieteur News Editorial.
The reform we need, the change we need, must first occur in the minds of all of our Leaders, I repeat, all of our Leaders, so that for each one of them fairness, justice and the words found as the second of the Ten Commandments – ‘Love thy Neigbbours as thyself” is manifest.
Not pious pronouncement but action, not fine words but deeds.
All else is an exercise of futility and the consuming of precious time that can be better utilized teaching the people the difference between right and wrong, between excellence and mediocrity and the value of compassion.
Our energies in support of the above moral repair should also urge our business community in the commercial and manufacturing sectors instead of being partisan in political and national issues to give substance to an earlier well-articulated programme to Feed, Clothe and House (FCH) the nation, so that our farmers would produce all our vegetables, grains, ground provision and fruits need for a healthy living and to help feed the Caribbean and beyond.
Let us realise a fading dream of being the Bread Basket of the Region.
The above constitutes a massive but necessary initiative by all of our political figures, religious leaders and business icons, but I believe, if we are serious or as the old story says ‘Who is to bell the cat?”
I hope that this letter and others I have read will stimulate concerned citizens and patriots to get out of their cocoon of silence and history will not find them guilty of the sin of silence at a time when good Guyanese restrict the expression of their concerns to intimate gatherings.
I contend that the best of laws, constitutions or reforms will mean very little unless the men and women who are placed at the helm are morally erect, then this thing called Democracy, Decency and Justice for all will not be realised.
Let me make it clear that I am not suggesting a society without laws as this would lead to anarchy.