Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
|The African economy is in trouble not because Africans are lazy. It is not only chattel slavery that adversely impacted the African race, but Africans continue to face roadblocks in post-slavery society by individuals and groups seeking to suppress efforts and initiatives at economic self-determination.
In the immediate post-slavery, our forebears struggled against former slave masters seeking to undermine the village economy by flooding their farmlands. At the dawn of internal self-government, many entered and have stayed in the public sector in service to the nation through the traditional public service, teaching, nursing, disciplined services, etc. By virtue of the sheer numbers, Africans have been the single largest group that has not only kept the nation’s wheels of production turning but financed the state’s spending through taxes.
Whereas tax deduction could be manipulated by those in the formal private sector, and many in the agriculture sector (rice, livestock, greens, etc.) do not pay taxes, public servants cannot skew the numbers or avoid taxation because taxes are deducted before receiving their pay.
Efforts to secure livable wages/salaries and better working conditions continue to be thwarted by government trampling the right to collective bargaining, thereby reducing purchasing power and negatively affecting standard of living.
Dire economic straits are impacting the African household, their ability to feed the families and send their children to school. When many parents are forced to turn to employment in private security that pays minimum wages, or do odds-and-ends jobs, they cannot provide three meals a day, pay rent or mortgage without support from overseas loved ones.
It is well established as government engages in acts to shut Africans out of the public sector on claims of ‘ethnic balancing,’ or GECOM reflecting the ‘reality of Guyana’ as recently pronounced by Clement Rohee, there is no corresponding policy to see ethnic balance in the private sector through a process of Affirmative Action. There are young people with 6 to 8 CXCs and university qualifications and can’t get work commensurate with their qualifications. This is not because they aren’t looking but because of how they look.
Securing loans from commercial banks is like pulling wisdom teeth. I am aware of instances where in inter-racial relations, if the African partner approaches the bank that person is denied, but with the same document and change of name the East Indian partner has returned and acquired the loan.
The cooperative sector where the African economy dominates is now under siege by government who rather than work with the coops is using the power of the state to take full control. The cooperative economy is worth approximately $50 billion and represents workers’ assets (money and lands). The cooperative credit unions provide loans at low interest rates for home ownership and repairs, cars, etc.
Today we are witnessing a targeted onslaught on the African community from Bharrat Jagdeo and other East Indians who appointed themselves authority to determine the African reality. This is separate and apart from collaborating with Africans in giving voice to their reality. Such contempt for the race has never been seen post-1953 (internal self-government). I am sure were African leaders attacking East Indians in similar manner members of the African community would have publicly condemned the conduct.
The attacks are insidious, wicked and part of an overarching mindset, policy and programme to justify marginalising a section of society. These persons are ascribing to themselves what they feel should be given to the African community rather than what the community is entitled to. As the public is fed the diatribe that denigrates a race, there are acts presently being conducted to deprive Africans of their resources.
The government is quietly surveying ancestral lands giving rise to legitimate fear the lands will be re-allocated to others and not the rightful heirs. One such exercise is being conducted at No. 53 and No. 54, Corentyne, East Berbice.
The United Nations (UN) warned, whereas apartheid as a system of government is toppled and racist legislation will not be tolerated, the underpinning belief of inferiority/superiority that built systems such as chattel slavery, indentureship, colonialism still exits and government can practice these through policies and programmes which we must be wary of in the process of working for a unitary society.
As part of the African community, I live and walk among the affected, see and hear their cries of discrimination, marginalisation and enforced deprivations. As a trade unionist I also witness this in the workforce. The contempt for the right to collective bargaining in the public service, for teachers, and workers employed at the Bauxite Company Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) is largely in part because Africans dominate in these sectors, particularly when compared with the favourable treatment meted out to sugar workers.
There are similarities in the thinking and treatment of the government that gave rise to formations of oppressive systems. The UN urged the continued importance of policing human rights and challenging manifestation of conducts that could lead to the denial of these. The right to self-determination, political, economic and social justice are valued in societies that eschew thinking that sustained racist and apartheid states.
The Cuffy250 Movement is entitled to expressing the reality of the group they represent. This at its most basic is a cherished right. After presentations have been made, society, moreso the government, should examine these and put systems in place for corrective action as we strive to live up to the national motto, which is the only slogan that matters. But to tell Africans they must not speak to their reality as they see it would be repeating the fundamental mistakes that led to justifying oppression.