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African Guyanese leaders who are not publicly known supporters of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic party and government have always attracted condemnation from Indian leaders. Within recent time the verbal attacks appear studied, coordinated, and are escalating not based on performance but are personal.
Two Fridays ago, leaders of the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G). were accused by Vice President (VP) Bharrat Jagdeo of using the money given to the organisation by the state for their personal enrichment. The VP referred to these leaders as “parasites using Afro-Guyanese just for their own benefit.” These leaders, at a press conference, have not only denied the accusation but pointed out they were and are not being paid for the services they provide
Vincent Alexander, Chairman IDPADA-G, has responded to the VP through his lawyer, Eusi Anderson. The VP was sent a lawyer’s letter demanding a public apology and unconditional retraction of statements and a financial sum by 3rd September as compensation for the defamation of his client’s character. He was further added that if he fails to comply with the aforesaid requests, “it will be construed as disinterest and immediately trigger the institution of legal proceedings.”
Trade unionist, Mr. Lincoln Lewis, writing on the attack on African leaders, said the onslaught is aimed to decapitate the African community of leadership in order that those who attack the leadership can trample on the rights of Africans and “entrench their marginalisation and discrimination.”
African Guyanese are being told their leaders are “parasites” “cowards” “thieves,” destroyed and bankrupted Guyana. There is hardly a negative adjective the media, social and mainstream, would consider inappropriate for use to demonise African leaders who criticise the PPP/C’s policies or are not publicly associated, politically or otherwise, with the party.
Mr. Lelon Saul, a columnist in Village Voice, referring to one such person said he “has a long history of attacking Afro Guyanese, especially those who are stridently advocating for equal rights, justice, and equitable distribution of the nation’s patrimony.”
Former Minister of Finance, Mr. Winston Jordan, appearing on Kidackie Amsterdam’s ‘Buxton Morning Time’ programme said, post August 2020 there is a narrative being pushed by some people that African Guyanese have done something akin to slaying Jesus Christ. People are acting as though “the race came, met people and sponge on their efforts, and laid back as kings while reaping the benefits of all. You’d believe that African Guyanese don’t belong to this country called Guyana,” he said.
Mr. Kit Nascimento, who served in the Forbes Burnham government, appearing on an online programme was asked for his “candid and profound reflection on Burnham.” Responding to the question, Nascimento said “perhaps he had the most powerful intellect of every president we have had so far …he was a profound thinker…he had all the makings of a great and powerful leader.
“He led our country at an extremely difficult time…at the time he came in the economy almost virtually collapsed, the price for sugar collapsed …and the price of oil went through the roof. Guyana found itself facing an almost impossible economy to manage. Burnham has carried the can for this, I think unfairly. On the other hand…”
Listen for more here (Sherrod Duncan’s TikTok)
Kit on Burnham
Late President Burnham is arguably the most vilified leader in Guyana. Some feel the attack on him is part of the broader assault to miniaturise the contributions of Africans to Guyana’s development. Yet other feel it is a tactic to ‘keep the Black man in his place’
Burnham is not without flaws, a senior member of his party said, “after all he was only human.” But to fabricate stories about Burnham and attack him without trying to contextualise the era he lived and governed in, what he inherited, the social, economic and political climate in and out of Guyana, the totality of the man would be lost, including his contributions to Guyana, the region and world, and how Guyanese can learn from any mis-step he may have made and build on his strengths, he offered.
One of the accusations often hurled at Burnham is that he was a racist. Nascimento said he would “put my head on a block, Burnham was not racist. He was not anti-Indian.”
In 1964, Burnham’s People’s National Congress (PNC) in a coalition government with the United Force (UF) won the election, successfully removing Dr. Cheddie Jagan from government.
Dr. Henry Jeffrey, in his presentation at the Cuffy250 forum, on Sunday, held under the theme ‘Resisting the Emerging Apartheid State’ called on Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Aubrey Norton and President Irfaan Ali to get together and find a pathway to political inclusion. He feels constitutional reform did not get to the root of Guyana’s problem given the ethno-political conflicts.
At the same event every presenter, without exception, called for inclusion of all races. Empathically they proclaimed African Guyanese, like all races, have a right to equal and equitable treatment. Communications specialists and linguists would contend language is amongst the first important steps to achieving this.