You warned me, but you did not convince

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—– the decline and fall of the general

‘The Last King of Scotland’ remains one of my all-time favourite movies. Not least because it brilliantly depicts the great ignominious exemplar of dictatorship in the form of Idi Amin, in his manic labyrinth but mostly because it captures the essence of wooden-headedness which is associated with enigmatic leaders who cannot be receptive to commonsensical advice. At the end of the movie, when his empire was crumbling, the ‘madman’ of Uganda played by Forest Whitaker, summoned his chief political advisor, the Scottish doctor, to his side. In a mad rage, he castigated him and passionately inquired why he wasn’t advised that his decline was imminent. The doctor insisted that he constantly warned about this. The brutal idiosyncratic leader banged his fist on the table and shouted: ‘you warned me but you didn’t convince me’.

At around 1 pm on May 16, the General made the final touches to his black socialist-styled uniform. For the first time in a long time, he did not have the luxury of simple engagements. The cars were parked outside with a slew of assistants and bodyguards. Amidst wailing sirens, the entourage arrived at Parliament Buildings for the official swearing ceremony that would coronate him as the 9th President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. Amid a sea of people filled with unprecedented national enthusiasm, an advisor leaned over and audibly whispered in the ear of the bespectacled gentleman with his legs crossed in stately fashion. He cautioned about this historical moment and the whirlwind of national and historical responsibility which now rest on the General’s shoulders. Added to this, he warned that with a one-seat majority government, if this rare political opportunity is not carefully managed, it could disappear by the next elections and the President could become a private citizen once again.

At 10 am on 16 May 2018, a Presidential guard rushed into the office of the head of state and breathlessly informed that a strange fella was demanding a meeting. The General reluctantly acquiesced and allowed the presence of the man who had advised him on the day of swearing-in at the balcony of the Parliament Buildings. The advisor wasted no time. He warned about the lack of communication, he cautioned about the abandonment of the base and the complaints of civil society. He pleaded about Cabinet members who were abusing power and the different plots and schemes being hatched by the Opposition and the international community. He submitted that the Afro-Guyanese communities feel betrayed due to the lack of investigations into extrajudicial killings and no significant economic programme to fundamentally change their socio-economic circumstance and they are referring to you as the next Desmond Hoyte. The General scoffed and insisted that he is respecting the constitution and making policies for all the people of Guyana. He mentioned: I noted your warnings but my government is the best since independence and we shall continue on this path. The advisor, just like the Soothsayer in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’, cautioned about a coming betrayal from a coalition Parliamentarian, easily paralleled with what Judas did to Christ. The arc institutionalist and statesman par excellence brushed aside the pleadings and insisted: ‘We are an impenetrable 33, be sure that our hands will never tremble’.


At 9:00 pm on the night after a new government was in place and all was lost, the General in his labyrinth paced up and down his isolated enclave. All communications were cut off, brimstones and fires were raining down. All of his calculations had fallen through and there were few options left. His constituencies were out with pitchforks and torches demanding his presence. He could not do it, the passions were hot as ten thousand suns. As time elapsed and the new transition occurred, he made a call to the advisor. He sought to instruct him on his campaign for the party leadership but the advisor was forced to inform him that he did not receive any nominations for the leadership.

The General stomped and banged his fist –‘you are telling me of an open rebellion against me, why didn’t you warn me about this’. The advisor said: ‘I did’. The General shouted: ‘but you didn’t convince me’.

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