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The significance of the Easter story to our contemporary world cannot be overstated. It is a familiar story of the human experience—a story of despair and overcoming, of suffering and survival. The persecution of Jesus Christ and his rise from the dead offers us hope that no matter the challenges, there is something in the human spirit that triggers the will to survive and overcome. There can be no doubt that this Easter comes at a time when the world is gripped by war and the attendant threat of extinction and by the economic woes that flow from combat. We obviously despair, but we have been down that road before and have somehow survived
For us in Guyana, it is a moment to reflect on the Easter story. In many respects, we have lived that story throughout our history. From the bowels of slavery through the depths of colonialism and indentureship, we have had to overcome tremendous hurdles. Even when we thought Independence would put the ghosts of bondage to bed, we have had to fight for survival. Like Jesus, we have had to face persecution and suffering, but never gave up hope that we can overcome. And overcome, we did. As the Mighty Sparrow affirms in one of his more philosophical calypsos , Survival:
Coming through the dark ages, looked upon as savages
Haunted by Unrighteousness, traumatized by ignorance, Time and place and circumstance
We had to face all kinds of prejudice, subjected to slavery, bound by Economic Chains
Quick to hold but slow to develop – daunted by redundancy.
Plagued by emotional pains, still for all we just wouldn’t stop
Why Surrender or give it up?
We will survive – as we have throughout the years
Man will survive through Pain, sorrow and tears,
To ensure our existence. to walk proud to stand tall , yet to humble in His presence
Cause at the back of it all no mistake at all, Unity is essential
Till the master call we fight for survival.
For many Guyanese the last few years have been most painful. The coming of Oil and Gas has brought with it new challenges. New avenues of despair and hurt have been opened. New hostilities have been visited on our Guyana. We fight on two fronts as we seek to again survive. On the one hand we contend with external forces which invariably try to control the flow of the oil—they point it northwards as if that’s how it was meant to be. On the other hand, we contend with uncaring local rulers who use the flow of the oil to widen the socio-ethnic divide and to enrich the already greedy pockets of the local vultures.
The tears of the social bottom of our society are ignored with consummate ease. The cries of the unwanted citizens, the sufferers, are stifled with tokens and handouts. We are left to hang on the cross, to suffer. We are economically and politically crucified. The human spirit is assaulted by the constant disregard for the rule of law and the constitution itself. Racial discrimination and racial prejudice stalk the land. The value of the dollar is reduced by the day. Women and children are left to suffer the indignities which have become normative. And men are emasculated in the face of high unemployment and underemployment.
Yet, we must survive. The Easter story shows us the way. Jesus did not surrender to the forces of persecution. From the pain and suffering on the cross, he rose on the third morning; signaling to the world the power of survival. Yes, we too shall survive if we struggle to turn back the tide of the suffering aimed at us. Again, the Mighty Sparrow captures the Easter sprit in that calypso, Survival:
From the beginning of time, reaching out to the sublime in a cold and hostile world
We have struggled to exist in this earthly wilderness seeking an elusive goal
Many times it seems like we are fighting a hopeless cause
Implying extinction is our lot
Because we were constantly ravaged by scourges and wars
We fight we quarrel we complain, but in the end believe it or not
We will survive – no matter what the odds,
Man will survive – inspired by Our Gods.
It’s a hard road we travel but to triumph we shall.
We go toil we go struggle
Cause at the end of it all whether you big or small, Peter helping Paul,
Till the master call, we fight for survival.