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By GHK Lall
Mr. President: there are Guyanese out there that are suffering. Mr. President: there are tens of thousands, I believe well over a couple hundred thousand Guyanese born and bred in this land who are neglected, who are marginalized and degraded and insulted.
They think so and feel so, and live with so many realities that are confirmed by their harsh, struggling, and enduring circumstances. And Mr. President, what everyone else may fear to share before excellent station and elevation, I do. They place their plight, they put their wretched lot to the dark, broad blot that has been delivered by presidential seal and hand on their existence.
Mr. President, they may not look like the people that is normally and richly favoured, not even like self. But they are Guyanese of the soil, of the blood and bones that have sown this land, now visited by the prejudices and vengeances wreaked upon their history, the troubles and tortures heaped upon their heads. They are hurting and calling for a helping hand, when so much of the same is extended to their fellows; they will do so with dignity only, and as what is a right that is due to them, too. Excellency, why not let it be! Simply let it be, by the generosity of spirit and hand that could make a difference, what could be the profoundness of the difference between not wanting and actually having.
Something to buy. A little more to partake of, both for themselves and their children, their other dependents. Something to carry them from today to another hour into tomorrow; maybe even beyond. Why does it have to be this way for them? How is it that they are being compelled to be reduced to begging, but of which they will not do? When will there be hearing of the cries and fears, their agonies amidst the ecstasies and hysterias with this oil that is now so sweet, the sugar that their ancestors unwillingly gave of their freedom to enrich others? Why does it have to be the same way today, in this century, in this time of oil and its lavish riches, Mr. President?
Mr. President, I will tell who they are, to help remove the scales from leadership’s eyes, but which are firmly and quickly replaced as frequently as they are taken away. They are predominantly Afro Guyanese, and those who may be of a mixed heritage, but identify solely of that strain. What they do, Mr. President, is they hold that their pain is traceable to the decisions coming from the heights of this rich country -the Presidential suite. They see and read and hear of another relief package. There is cash, there is free support to the tune of a billion dollars, and there is a little hand for those who have a castle, the quiet sanctuary that they call their own home. Oh, they sure understand that a handful or two of their own will get to partake of the latest in leadership largesse announced on Monday last, the fruits of the set asides in the national budget, but they wonder what about them? The great majority of them.
What about them and their share of the pie that is reserved for, sliced away, and then delivered to others in the citizenry stretched across the length and breadth of the vast land? Mr. President, I ask again, and though they didn’t ask me to advocate for them, I still inquire again: what about them, a little something that targets their woes, their areas, their anxieties, and their hurts? They are people too; and they are not insulated from rising prices and streaking cost-of-living pangs that ripple across their sorry, impoverished existence. They are Guyanese, no matter where they may reside. They are Guyanese, regardless of which leader and which group they support. They are, and still remain, loyal and noble Guyanese, despite their powerful political persuasions and positions. To His Excellency, I say again and again: in this first -ate oil country, no member of this society (not even those branded as illegal) should be made to feel, or see themselves, as second-class citizens. No Guyanese, especially the descendants of slaves, who gave of their blood, sweat, and tears (their limbs and their lives, too) ought to be consigned to this state, this place, from where they must watch and absorb how all other Guyanese get a grant of the new bounties of this land in what is slanted toward the favored (and away from them), time and again.
Where is the evenhanded equity, the fair-minded benevolence, the majestic magnanimity, that was promised in the Inaugural Presidential Address of August 2020 at the National Cultural Center? Where is it today, Mr. President, and why is it not spread visibly and meaningfully across this Guyana that belongs to all of us? People may be poor, but they have pride. Black Guyanese may be down on the ground, but they will not let anyone desecrate their dignity. Any other who is determined to make them grovel by deliberately leaving them out, by turning backs on them, must get the same message that history has repeated in this place and all over, where adversaries have made it their duty to deliver the divisive and what is not inclusive. It will not stand; it will fail.
Of that be sure, Mr. President. It is the long, inspiring record that is graced with the indomitable will of man, and never more than when back is forced to the wall, and nose pressed against the window, and there is nothing. Please hear, sir. Please take these tiny inquiries, these humble appeals, to heart, and reconsider, restart, and redo with a program that is national, one that is of the broadest leadership attributes, one that leaves none on the outside, or beyond the range of consideration.