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|The Cuffy 250 Committee was scheduled to meet today to have discussions under the theme “Resisting the Emerging Apartheid State.” This is an event organised by Africans for Africans. Floyd Haynes, an African, whose name appeared on the flyer as a presenter has publicly distanced himself from involvement. He has a right to associate or not to associate and this should be respected. Up comes Bharrat Jagdeo, an East Indian, inserting himself in an area he has no business in. He is out of order!
The right to self-determination is guaranteed to all races and this right for Africans is of no lesser import than for East Indians, Amerindians, Chinese, Europeans, Portuguese and mixed race citizens. What is it about the African race that when they get together to discuss issues of import to them or speak out independently in defense and protection of themselves, it threatens or emasculates Jagdeo?
The right to self-determination must be guarded zealously. No self-respecting East Indian will accept this from Africans, and no self-respecting African will accept it from the East Indians. This month is particularly special on the African calendar and the devious intent by a few East Indians to undermine the right to self-determination is intended to leave the community without their formal leaders to provide representation. It is an attempt to decapitate Africans and leave them without leadership so as to move in and impose another form of subjugation. They must be met with spirited resistance.
No African leader in Guyana has ever been this contemptuous to East Indians. In December 1926 when Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow met with the British Guiana East Indian Association (BGEIA) to discuss voting rights following the Caribbean Labour meeting in March of that year to develop an agenda for internal self-government, the meeting was informed by respect for East Indian’s right to self-determination.
When conditions on the estates were dire, Critchlow stood up and represented East Indian workers. Those sugar workers nicknamed him the ‘Black Crobsy,’ in homage to a white Immigration Officer who advanced their cause with alacrity. Critchlow later engaged Ayube Edun, an East Indian, and practically taught him the ropes of trade unionism in acknowledgement that sugar workers would be comfortable having representation by one of their own.
What Critchlow did at the trade union level, Forbes Burnham later did at the government level. The Burnham government instituted policies and programmes such as granting Hindu and Muslim holidays and accepting their religions and marriage ceremonies as legal and equal in society. This is what is called “One People, One Nation, One Destiny.” It is the respect for the right of all to self-determination in an environment that treats all as equal; it ensures economic, political, cultural and social justice is not the purview of one group but all. This is what Jadego and Irfaan Ali are seeking to overturn with their racist one Guyana slogan which is nothing less than ethnic triumphalism.
Jagdeo and Ali are men without pedigree, malnourished in upbringing and thoughts, and their conduct must be met with resistance. Haynes’ right to not participate in the event became the occasion for Jagdeo to immerse himself to viciously attack the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G). He stated that IDPADA-G has been the beneficiary of a state grant which he refers to as money of the PPP/C government. The money IDPADA-G received in the last five years amounts to less than half a billion. This money is equally from African labour, who by virtue of being in the public sectors are primary taxpayers, and the centuries of unpaid labour toiling on the sugar estates under the most inhumane circumstances and conditions ever known to man. How dare he!
This onslaught in denying Africans while offering disproportionate benevolence towards East Indians who dominate in the private sector, and sugar and rice industries must stop. They are not only given tax free concessions and preferential treatment in the oil and gas economy, but billions are injected into the ailing Guyana Sugar Corporation just to ensure income for some. At the recent Toshaos Conference Ali announced his administration spent $50 Billion dollars in the Amerindian community, and subsequently went to Parliament for an additional $3 plus billion. I don’t begrudge any group benefiting from the national patrimony but there must be equitable treatment for the African community, likewise engagement with their elected leaders not those the PPP wants to impose and elevate. Africans must not be apologetic in making known their feelings and deprivations.
This is not about IDPADA-G which is getting pittance from the government. This is about wanting to deny Africans the right to gather and discuss their affairs. When we examine how apartheid state came into being there are emerging similarities in Guyana. First, the oppressor starts conditioning society to accept some are lesser than, that they are not part of that “one group,” hence deserving to be treated differently. Thereafter systems are put in place to deny, deprive and constrict them.
The Jagdeo/Ali regime is not only openly flouting Article 13 of the Constitution of Guyana that speaks to “inclusionary democracy” and would see respect for the political participation, equal and equitable access to the national patrimony for the other half of society, but these ruthless leaders are moving to say Africans must not gather at the non-governmental level and speak on matters of import to them. The few Africans who genuflect to this disrespect are not dissimilar in conduct to others in slavery and apartheid that were only too happy to execute their masters’ evil deeds in reward for the crumbs from the table and to hobnob with the master.
The experiment started with economic genocide in the bauxite community during the Jagdeo regime which is well documented by yours truly, then they moved to the public sector to deny workers the right to collective bargaining and livable wages/salaries as they put systems in place to keep African out of this sector. The Jagdeo/Ali regime has returned with hate and vengeance. They are now setting the stage to withdraw the grant to IDPADA-G as they recently did with the Critchlow Labour College. The United Nations Decade of People of African Descent will now see wicked efforts to silence the organisation as they are attempting to do with others.
I call on my African brothers and sisters not to accept this new disrespect from Jagdeo. Similarly, I call on all self-respecting persons of other races not to stay silent in the face of this new onslaught. Jagdeo’s recent attack must not be dismissed as that of a ‘meddlesome mattie’ or a man without pedigree, malnourished in thoughts and upbringing, but be recognised for what it is – a man driven by a wicked agenda to trample the rights and dignity of the African race.