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Only a disingenuous person would discredit the contributions of Africans to the development of Guyana. Africans’ contributions are well documented since the arrival of the first batch of enslaved people from the West Coast of Africa. Apart from renowned Africans such as Cuffy, Atta, and Damon, other enslaved Africans, who were later freed, played a major role in the development of the Village Movement and thus laid the foundation for an independent Guyana.
Ever since the last decade of the 20th Century, a period that coincides with the ascension of the Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) to government, we have witnessed deliberate attempts to distort history and derecognize the developmental contributions of Africans in Guyana. Our national hero, the late founder leader, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, has dedicated his life to molding this nation yet he is often the subject of the vilest attack by the PPP and their uninitiated subjects. Similarly, there are relentless attacks on African organizations and current notable African stalwarts like PNC leader, Aubrey Norton, Vincent Alexander, Lincoln Lewis, Dr, Clive Thomas, and Rickford Burke among others.
Should one study the deliberate attempts of our detractors to derecognize Africans’ contributions to the developmental matrix and the concerted efforts to demonize, malign, and emasculate Africans he/she would conclude that the ruling cabal has effectively applied the Critical Race Theory (CRT), while embracing a Cancel Culture campaign in support of the emerging apartheid state.
Though the CRT concept originated in the USA it is relevant and applicable to Guyanese society. “CRT is a way of understanding how racism has shaped public policy or a divisive discourse that pits people of color against white people.” In Guyana, however, CRT should be examined in the context of African – Indian relations and public policy and governance.
An analysis of current public policies has shown that Africans are adversely affected. Collin Constantine (2017) noted that “the IMF structural adjustment programme of the 1990s resulted in Indo-Guyanese increased income share at the expense of Afro Guyanese.” This can be attributed to wage deflation, a reduction in the size of the public sector, and the elimination of price control. He further noted that the economic fortunes of ethnic groups are directly adjacent to government policies and Indo-Guyanese have gained substantial wealth under the PPP government.
Irrefutably, the policy agenda of the PPP government is inextricably linked to Hinduism. The IPADA-G (2021) noted that “the PPP relies on fear and scorn of Africans, viewed as the outcaste in Hindu religion to maintain political power, having a racial wedge in society.” Further, Ravi Devi informs us “one consequence of the Aryan conquest of the dark-skinned “Dasyus” in early Indian history has been a negative evaluation of the dark skin, which persists to the present, even among Indians.” Undoubtedly, this evaluation has given rise to a negative view, and the systematic discrimination against Africans.
African – Indian relations in Guyana are influenced by CRT which comprises policies and stipulates the government’s interaction with various African interests or groups. Invariably these policies are designed to ensure that Africans do not make significant economic and social progress. Small wonder then, that there is a glaring disparity in the acquisition of most loans granted by commercial banks. Further, there appears to be a lopsided allocation of resources at the community level coupled with discriminatory financial relief allocations.
Coupled with CRT, the PPP has embarked on a brutal cancel culture campaign aimed at discrediting African leaders and organizations. The deliberate efforts at distorting Guyana’s history and demonizing African leaders, most particularly, the Great Forbes Burnham, are overbearing. Only recently, Junior Minister of Housing, Susan Rodrigues, speaking at a forum, misinformed her audience on the true state of development and progress prior to 1992. This is the general trend of PPP operatives; they are pathologically mendacious to say the least.
The PPP cancel culture campaign is designed to demonize Africans and cause us to feel worthless. Hence the relentless attack on African leaders and organizations. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Africans to protect their interests by ensuring that they do not succumb to an adverse belief which reduces their basic human dignity.
The PPP has effectively used CRT and cancel culture against African interest to the extent that many Africans believe that their leaders and organisations do not adequately, or are incapable of representing them. This myth must be urgently dispelled with the provision of facts, not myth and hearsay as presented by the PPP. Undoubtedly, African leaders and organisations must raise the bar in their quest to adequately represent African interest.
The core problem is not an inadequate representation by African leaders, but a racist PPP regime that refuses to recognise the legitimacy and authority of African leaders. Hence, the PPP’s blunt refusal to engage and negotiate with African leaders across the spectrum. Clearly, the PPP’s guiding principles in dealing with Africans are based on ‘CRT and Cancel Culture. Despite such demeaning setbacks, Africans must valiantly reject these attempts to reduce them to the status of second-class citizens.