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By GHK Lall
The PPP Government and its senior leaders have indicated the strategy that they are committed to employing, the direction in which they are prepared to go. In the heads of its leaders, this is the only way to go, and there may not be a less wise course for them to follow. It is of how they deal with the lost half of Guyana’s electorate, how they make the citizens of African descent in this society feel, and of what can be the only conclusion, given their determined actions in different places, different conditions.
What the leaders in the PPP Government do is work tirelessly to refine a strategy and tactic that has limited utility. With each delivery, the President and his team have convinced themselves that the best approach to unease in Black Guyanese hearts and turbulence coming from their communities is to rush to the rescue to salvage for the moment what could be had from the flashpoints that develop, the heats generated. I repeat so that it can register far and wide: it is temporary, over-the-counter remedy that both the government and the community know well. This is because the enduring effects are not felt, do not linger for too long after those flying visits, those well-publicized horseback rides into this or that cluster of Black Guyanese.
The President, Vice President, Prime Minister, and the reams of ministers making the rounds are good for photo-ops and fine speeches. The tight arc of such endeavors speaks of the work of firefighters putting out fires, while hauling themselves contentedly away that another potential flare-up has been tamed. It is of reacting to the moment, instead of responding in a manner that is laced through with what is comprehensive, and also viable. Not just for the beleaguered and upset Africa community, but also for the entire range of communities that make up this Guyanese nation.
What recently came into full governmental flower, with much backslapping and self-congratulating of another speeding bullet evaded, another smoky situation defused, points to a state of governance that is briming with a few undeniable ingredients that bring much delight. To the PPP Government. To its leaders. To its visionaries and functionaries. To its planners and players on the ground.
)First, there is this hopscotch approach to governance, with a painkiller here, and some tonic there. Buxton is the newest laboratory for what will be nothing more than short-lived engagements. Second, when a model that embodies the full-time, the fleshed out, and the flexible that understands and appreciates what is at the core of the apprehensions and hurts, only then a beginning would have been made. An authentic one that gives some opportunity for durability, because there is sensitivity and credibility. Third, this government and its leaders have to get into their heads, and come to grips, with what is the reality of Guyana, and the true depths of it, and how agonizing it is.
Monies and programs and promises can continue to be doled out in this haphazard, erratic, and slapdash fashion, and all that is achieved is a staying of the tide until the next set of circumstances bring a deluge of the unwanted, which covers from the unmentioned to the uncomfortable to the undesired to eye and ear. I list only a few of them. People being fired because of the color of their skin under the flimsiest of failed disguises. People being fired upon with lethal effect because their lives are considered to be cheap, hence, they are expendable. This, without qualm, as evidenced in either the casualness of the careless, or worse than that, the premeditated dismissals of those who shouldn’t feature because they don’t matter.
The leaders of this abrasive and aggressive land, including those specifically identified above by official title have to develop the honesty in themselves to admit that what we have here is unworkable and unacceptable, no matter how dressed up, served up, and talked up. When people are (or made to feel) ostracized, marginalized, demonized, terrorized and victimized and traumatized, then there is no long-term appeasement of their sentiments, their fears. Currently, and accurately or unfairly, Black Guyanese have a deep sense of all that was just mentioned, and for the simple fact that there under the heel of an arrogant, contemptuous, and dismissive PPP Government and its shiny cohort of leaders.
Black Guyanese are not open to the figures of Prime Minister Phillips and Minister Benn, with due regard to both of them, because they are not considered their own. The only ones of their own that are recognized and genuinely embraced are those that they name, support, stand for and with, head to shoulder to heart. I would go as far as to soul. I extend this standard to assert that the exact same can be said of Indo Guyanese, no matter how many faces like their own are in the PNC, and be they of the keenest quality of patriots. Like Black Guyanese, there is only contentment and satisfaction, when their political heroes are their own from their own chosen ranks and with their own people. These are the only leaders that are recognized, cherished, regardless of their handicaps, their follies. And this I say is an unassailable truth of political and racial Guyana. It is what our social environment can, is prepared to, absorb and nothing else.
There must be a seat at the table of power, and with a sufficiency of presence and influence, to mean something. For only then, there will be the sentiment that there is representation, there is say, there is contribution to the deliberations towards an acceptable destiny that commences on the right foot. That is, because it has more than a semblance of inclusivity and sharing in the decision-making. It is true that our approach has been around for decades. It is true also that it has utterly failed all of us in fostering the peace, tranquility, and stability that can get Guyana really going places.