Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
On Sunday, September 12, 2021 I was one of three presenters in a ZOOM Public Meeting, sponsored by the Indo-Caribbean Culture Centre. The topic on which the presenters spoke is “Is Partition the Ultimate Solution to the Ethno-Political Violence in Guyana?” I was not surprised that the other presenters saw violence against Indo-Guyanese as the major concern, since the Indo-Caribbean Culture Centre is about addressing the concerns of Indo-Caribbean people. What shocked me was the myopia that affected their positions. For one of them in particular, ethno-political violence has affected only the Indo-Guyanese. While, they focused on the Wismar “so called massacre” (it is so called because the extent of death is exaggerated and unsubstantiated), and other incidents that affected Indo-Guyanese, it seems as if the killings in the backlands on the East Coast before the “so called massacre”, the Sun Chapman bombing that killed 43 Afro-Guyanese and the arson attack on the home of the Abraham`s, which resulted in the death of nine family members, not to mention the scores, of African Guyanese, who were murdered in West Demerara and the Mahaica-Maichony district during the 60s do not matter. One cannot discuss ethno-political violence in Guyana as purely an Indo-Guyanese concern. No wonder, they misrepresent Kwayanna`s exhortation: “No Guilty Race”. Kwayanna was not absolving anyone. He was identifying that all sides had committed atrocities and that accepting collective responsibility would create the condition for the sides to engage in an effort to find common ground, going forward, in the nation building process. A holistic approach is essential to the understanding and resolution of the ethno-political violence, which affects Guyana.
The other issue of concern to me was the ahistorical posture that they adopted. I sought to trace the evolution of the antagonisms between and among the ethnic groups. This they treated as an identification, by me, of the long gone plantation owners as the problem. They could not come to terms with the fact that I was identifying the antagonisms, natural or engineered, as the problem (the primary causal factor) and not the actors who engineered the problem. It is those antagonisms that have persisted unto today and provide fertile ground for the ethnic politics that engulfed the nation once the colonizers signaled their departure, thus creating the political void. It is those antagonisms founded on the platform of natural cultural/ differences; material and psychological differentiation; and pungent stereotyping and prejudices which are the primary causal factors of the state of our ethnic relations. Ethno-political violence is a secondary factor, the existence of which is dependent on its antecedent, the antecedent causal factor. I therefore argued that the identification of the primary causal factor and its eradication provides the basis for the elimination of ethno-political violence.
On the aforementioned basis, I concluded that Partition could only resolve the problem in Guyana if the groups are completely separated. However, the manner in which the groups arrived and settled in the same spaces does not provide the basis for allocation of parts of the country to specific groups as occurred in other countries, where separation meant retaining control of ancestral territory by homogeneous groups.
Truth, reconciliation and equitable and good governance is the way forward for Guyana. That is what we should be exploring rather than separation which is not feasible/practical and for which there is no historical or geographical (pattern of settlement) basis.