Recording Guyanese political history – Nigel Westmaas

Recording Guyanese political history: Memory, `archives’ and narrative overlook

By Nigel Westmaas

This essay is concerned about the politics of memory.  As Guyana’s newest political (elections) season unfurls there will be  numerous references to events, concepts and phrases that support attendant political narratives, that is, Guyanese political history as mainly defined by the two mass political parties that have been at the helm of the country’s political life since 1953. This contemporary concentration on a convenient nomenclature of Guyana’s political history that devolves primarily on the narrative of the two dominant political forces is hardly surprising given the grasp these organisations have held on national political consciousness up to this point.

The nomenclature of  events and concepts by which the two main political parties (the PPP and PNC) define  and control the narrative of “modern” Guyanese politics include:  the “1950s” and “1960s”; “Disturbances”; Feed, Clothe and House the nation”; Enmore Martyrs”, “First Past the Post “ system; ”Sun Chapman” and the preceding Wismar incidents; “ Power-sharing”; “rigged elections”;  “Partition”; “Proportional representation”; and “paramountcy of the party”.  These favourites in the local political lexicon, as important as they are separately and collectively, sometimes uncritically legalize the philosophy and actions of one main party or the other in the representation of Guyana’s political history. This dominance leaves in its wake silences or ill attendance to other political narratives, past and present and the need for a thoughtful search for an improvement in our political narrative and culture.    [more]

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  • needybad4u  On 04/14/2012 at 3:06 pm

    Early 1960’s to mid 1980’s marking two decades of Guyana’s political history – the glutenous stain of Forbes, Cheddie and Peter and the prodding of Eusi Kwayana and Walter Rodney, the backdrop of a powerhouse stream of arts and literature – clinging to Mittlelholzer, Ian Carew, Martin Carter, A.J. Seymour, Wilson Harris, Denis Williams and the swelling tide of the underground economy, Black Friday…all swirl in the memory. It’s like looking back at home from a distance. A nice refresher like young coconut water.

  • DMITRI ALLICOCK  On 04/14/2012 at 11:46 pm

    Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.
    The purpose of recording Guyana’s failed political history should be done from the standpoint that it should never be allowed to repeat itself.
    The bitter struggle and resulting economic turmoil in Guyana came as a result of “failed theories and philosophies of Guyana’s Politicians.”
    Guyana found itself in complete shambles and its people in exodus to any country that would accept them legally or otherwise. No glorification of Guyana’s Politicians is warranted unless their actions benefited Guyanese as a whole.
    “Actions or inactions” which resulted in Guyana’s catastrophic decline should be recorded yes, but more so, to serve as a painful lesson to learn, as a better path to the future is charted.

    Hi Steph

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