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As we celebrate the 36th birth anniversary of the Late President Burnham, Freddie Kissoon has returned to his denigration of Burnham. He accuses Former President Granger of vulgarising history by virtue of his commentary on Burnham, on the occasion of the anniversary. In response to his denigration here are some of the remarks that were posted in social media: 1. “What`s very disturbing about it is the slew of inaccuracies in several sections of the piece which is supposedly written by an academic”. 2. “Sigh… people still read Freddy Kissoon”. 3. “Isn`t there a Foundation dedicated to him? Why isn`t it functional?”
Those three comments have inspired this response. I am tired of pinpointing the gross inaccuracies of Kissoon that he parades in his columns as facts. I am glad that others have also noted and highlighted his “slew of inaccuracies” in just one column.
Since people still read his columns, I cannot allow his inaccuracies to go unexposed. We can`t allow crass misrepresentations to pass for facts.
The Burnham Foundation is alive and at minimum has a television programme: State of the Nation which is aired every fourth Sunday of each month at 10.00 am on HBTV Channel Nine. It is also archived on You Tube.
I now address Freddy`s proclivity and debunk his inaccuracies even as I remember Sparrow`s calypso: Lying Excuses. Freddy could do well by serenading himself with that song.
Why is Freddy so selective about Burnham? He wants to do research from 1968. Burnham came to power in 1964. Any history of him should cover his entire period in government. What is Freddy`s motive for wanting to skip Burnham`s first four years in government?
Freddy is so right in his assertion that “it is the first scholarly desire I have”. No wonder one of the comments highlighted that his column “is supposedly written by an academic”. I await this first scholarly piece but would not take the risk of holding my breath as I wait.
On the question of the equality of ethnic groups, wasn’t it Burnham`s Government that introduced the ethnic holidays; made education free for all and introduced the secular school system; along with the removal of the imposition of the sectarian religious practices in the schools, the majority of which were Christian.
It is laughable that Freddy contends that “almost 99 percent of Indian Guyanese felt that Guyana had no place for them”, yet they dominated the agricultural and business sectors and were major beneficiaries of the fishermen cooperative facilities, unto today, among others. Even the PNC scholarships (not the Government`s) to the Peoples` Friendship University, in Moscow, saw as many Indians as Afros as the awardees, unlike the PPP which from 1979, inclusive of Bharrat Jagdeo`s batch, never sent an African Guyanese.
That all Guyanese were affected by the food shortages, inclusive of flour and split peas, cannot be statistically refuted. However, it is true that the PPP sought to particularize the shortages for political gain. A particularization that Freddy regurgitates.
I am still to find the Land to the Tiller Act to which Freddy refers. On the contrary, Indians maintained their dominance in the agriculture sector and would have been the beneficial tillers if there was such an act. This too can be borne out by statistics. Freddy`s academia does not include statistical evidence.
Freddy will never stop telling the crass lie that National Service was compulsory. This belies his dishonest academia or no academia at all. The only compulsory component of National Service was for University Students. The majority of National Service, constituting over 80%, was voluntary. Ask Jerry Gouveia and Peter Ramsaroop both of whom attended voluntarily and Joe Singh, who was once its Director General.
With regard to compromise and consultation it is a matter of national record that Burnham held unity talks with the PPP more than once. He also agreed that all female university students would have the choice to attend or not attend National Service. This was in response to the PPP`s demand that female Indian university students be exempted from National Service. Janet Jagan jettisoned its implementation. Not to mention that GAWU, the labour arm of the PPP, was granted recognition under Burnham`s regime, even as it continued to sabotage the economy by the persistent burning of cane.
Freddy Kissoon`s is the one who has and continues to vulgarize History in his anti-PNC antics. Granger is his most recent target. His diatribe cannot pass academic muster but may well cause further division and disunity if not exposed and refuted.
It is unfortunate that the resourceful Kaieteur News refuses to fact check Freddy`s column. I am prepared to have my information fact-checker along-side that of Freddy`s diatribe.
Forbes Burnham Foundation