OP-ED | A leader locked in a life and death struggle with truth

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By GHK Lall

I find myself doing something not done before. I occasionally read beyond the newspaper captions. It is unmapped territory for me, turns out to be unhealthy and unholy, too. Unhealthy and unholy because what goes on in the nuts and guts of this country could be contagious, condemn me to the same fate.

I read of the President, and I behold a leader locked in a life and death struggle with truth. He wants his to prevail, but usually ends up losing, despite the best efforts of his defenders. His Excellency does his best to rollover those who dare to say nay, nyet, no mas, only to come out of such verbal confrontations looking worse for wear. Mark Twain had said get the facts first, and then distort as much as pleases. Guyana’s President is even more illustrious than Twain in that he succeeds in twisting both facts and truths to disfigured proportions. When the national leader is not satisfied with his distorting handiworks, hedemands that others say all is well and to hell with those who say otherwise. There is nothing religious about what I put on the table: the clean cannot come out of the unclean, which is the viral force afflicting this society. The same applies to leaders and followers all over: Don’t bother putting new wine (truth and light) into old wineskins (men knowing one way only), as it would blow up in the face, spill on hands and clothes, and make a mess all over.

To emphasise this point, I provide an example. Listen to a street addict, a homeless citizen, or a deportee, anyone of those fallen angels, who in a less politically correct era would have been labeled ‘damaged goods.’ Without fail, their postures, marketing presentations, and accompanying actions are of England’s Oxbridge or the American Ivy League, so fluent they are with their verbal three card routines, so practiced they are in their refined deceptions. Listen and observe closely, and somebody tell me if this is not so of brethren who have had less than a lengthy period of formal schooling. I am struggling with who learned from whom, leaders from those lower on the ladder, or those at the bottom picking up perverse wisdoms from the ones at the top of the political pile. This is what I come across when I read parts of the paper, what is supposed to be news. It could be the head of state playing his stage role, or the real McCoy, the de facto national head, strutting in the power of his third term, which is what it is in all but official name. There is nothing new or newsy about what comes from the big chiefs in this country, other than the old, tired, untrustworthy salesmanship, sleazy partisanship, and outright gamesmanship.


Their supporters know this; and so, too, do their cheerleaders, and other guzzlers at the national trough. One of the more notable ones is in New York sweetly collecting for diaspora related matters. Nobody had to pay me, or offer me anything, and here I am giving to the Guyanese people without charge. I take a quick peek at the opinion columns now and then, and cringe. For there are the cheerleaders of both sides of the political divide in full battle gear, and being responsible for the worst noise nuisances. I jump back in alarm. Because most Guyanese have imprisoned themselves in the narrowest cells of prejudice, the most unforgiving political passions, they have serious problems with the handful of citizens, who are not like them. The bigoted and partisan from both sides cannot stand those Guyanese, who don’t think like them, don’t react to everything as they do. Having boxed themselves in these mental one-way streets, natives cannot find their way out of it, are not even interested in finding out if they there are other aspects of themselves that are broader and deeper and wiser. The parts in us that would make for a better Guyana, a powerful inclusive national destiny.

Next, I come across some poll about who is loved and regarded, and my thinking is that someone just hugged the unholy, picked trouble with the devil, and came away with profanity. I am wondering who takes anybody seriously in this country anymore, when we come up with things like these. We all know what kind of President and Vice President we have. If no one else knows, I do; when everyone else pretends at not knowing, not even thinking along those lines, I will have none of it, because I detect our leading for what, how, and who they are. Believe me, the scent of the fishy overwhelms this country. Most of us have been around certain kinds of people, and we know where we stand, in not wanting to have anything to do with them. It is my position. Let it be sufficient to say that leaders are neither Moses nor Mohamed nor the Messiah of St Matthew nor sons and daughters of Mother Laxmi. Mephistopheles represents a start on the right track, is closer to home.

Finally, I take a look at the opposition, and I ask myself who lit a fire under it, and towards what objectives. We have oil, and the local opposition can’t even develop the anxieties and angers that generate a slow boil, or any kind of constructive heat. My hope is that hopeful Guyanese are not shortchanged again, don’t lose out as they always have done. Somebody has got to stand for something around here. Other than thievery. Besides shadow boxing with what brings on boredom. Beyond what is self-serving, while leaving lowly Guyanese trapped at the bottom all the time.

As I consider all this, I think I owe myself a favor. I should leave my fellow Guyanese to their Guyanese ways. There must be sticking to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, BBC, and when I want a laff, any Chinese or Russian news agency.

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