Have Afro-Guyanese become like Afro-Brazilians?- commentary

Have Afro-Guyanese become like Afro-Brazilians?

AUGUST 1, 2014 | BY KNEWS |  COLUMNISTSFREDDIE KISSOON

Today I will walk into the National Park with some of my African-Guyanese activist friends. I will meet with many African activists whose main agenda is to save what they believe is a dying political economy of African-Guyanese. A year will pass and if I am alive, I will repeat the routine in 2015. And if I am alive in 2016, I will repeat it again.

Then I will say to myself in 2016 what I said in preceding years after leaving the National Park and walking back to the mainstream of life in my country – so where are the changes?

Make no mistake about it; the challenge to Robert Corbin’s leadership by Team Alexander was not about power. Maybe it was. But it was surely not the motivating factor. It was about the direction of the PNC’s praxis. 

Make no mistake about it; the challenge to David Granger’s leadership was not about power. Maybe it was. But it was surely not the motivating factor. It was about the direction of the PNC’s praxis. Make no mistake about it; African Guyanese may embrace individual African activists, shower them with love and respect, but when it comes to the PNC, African Guyanese believe that it is the only organization that can stop the PPP and reclaim a position of worth in Guyana for Africans.

Corbin is gone. Granger has not lived up to expectation, but it will be impossible for a new force to come up and replace the PNC, a force that African Guyanese will embrace. Any new entity that emerges on the scene that will capture the imagination of the descendants of the great slave rebellions will not have access to resources and personnel of immense standing. The former is not easy to get, because the African communities don’t have that kind of money. The latter Guyana is in dire shortage.

What is likely to happen if Mr. Granger doesn’t have an attitudinal metamorphosis (a term popularized in Guyanese political discourse by Forbes Burnham) in the coming weeks, not months, is that Afro-Guyanese will shift over to the AFC, particularly given the presence of Nigel Hughes in that party and the continuing alienation of the WPA from APNU, particularly in the form of Dr. David Hinds.

But I doubt it would be in numbers so large as to render the PNC into a dwarf (pardon the description, no insult meant to that category of people). One thing for sure; if Granger remains Granger and leads the PNC into the next general elections, the PNC will lose votes and seats.

This may very well be the last Emancipation Day where things will be quiet. The pressure on David Granger and the former soldiers in APNU, and the PNC leadership, to stop the horrendous assault on the political economy of African Guyanese is colossal. One should not envy David Granger, but feel for him. African Guyanese are desperate. They feel that with every passing year, they are losing their place in Guyana.

I have two degrees in history. At the first degree level and in my Masters thesis, my research was on the political economy of the emancipated slaves. I say without fear of contradiction, and I say unapologetically, that at no time since emancipation, has the political economy of Africans been in such a fragile state that survival does not look good. If any researcher on Guyana’s sociology wants to see what Africans have been reduced to in this land, all they have to do is look at the recently concluded World Cup in Brazil.

Over sixty percent of Brazilians are non-white. For every Black Brazilian attendee you saw in the stand, there were ten thousand white faces. When you looked at the people in those stands during the entire life of the World Cup, you would think that Brazil was a white European country. Afro-Brazilians were not in the stands at the World Cup. Where were they? I really don’t know, but my academic mind can make a guess. Outside the stadium selling sugar cake and plantain chips.

The analogy with African-Guyanese is graphic. If you came from planet Mars and looked at the IPL cricket, the World Cup and now the CPL cricket on our television stations, you would believe that Guyana was an Indian country. The thousands of sponsors were all Indian firms. If you dine at the Princess Hotel or the upper tier of New Thriving or the classy joints on Sheriff Street, you would think that this country only has Indian people.

But then you see that Guyana has a population that is half Africans who are the security guards, police constables and army privates taking home G$40,000 (US$200) a month.

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Comments

  • de castro  On 08/03/2014 at 2:54 am

    Interesting article but some negativgovernmentxpressed.
    Futuristic writing but I was wanting to read on ….
    Suggestion on solutions on how to ‘change’
    the Guyana political ‘stalemate’..
    As an economic state Guyana will survive
    but politically she is a ‘failed’ state internationally.
    Damage limitation a necessity. Political change.
    I did like the analysis ‘suggestion’ that it is unlikely
    PNC members will agree to a ‘merger’ of PNC – AFC
    before or after general elections….
    More interesting/important is outcome of local
    elections before any predictions on general
    elections.
    To compare Guyana s demographics with Brazil’s
    is a bit like comparing David with Goliath..
    and Brazil is considered progressive and prosperous
    internationally..Guyana is not.
    Brazil’s dilemma is how to bridge the gap
    ‘Rich V Poor’…their political dilemma.
    $200 a month may not be a lot for
    a ‘civil servant’ but it is relative and
    offers ‘job security’…..this can be doubled
    if ‘corruption’ is to be discouraged in the future
    as Guyana moves forward.
    Not wishing to comment further until after
    local elections are complete please let me thank
    comrade KISSOON for a very informalive article
    on the political dilemma Guyana and guyanese
    must address sooner than later.
    Kamtan intransigence UK on way to Milan.

  • michael hawkins  On 08/03/2014 at 7:52 am

    This is the trouble too much race. The only way forward is as one people.

    guyaneseonline posted: “Have Afro-Guyanese become like Afro-Brazilians? AUGUST 1, 2014 | BY KNEWS | COLUMNISTS, FREDDIE KISSOON Today I will walk into the National Park with some of my African-Guyanese activist friends. I will meet with many African activists whose main a”

  • Ron. Persaud  On 08/03/2014 at 11:32 am

    And it was not always like that.
    “The election of 27 April 1953 under the new system provoked a serious constitutional crisis. The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won 18 of the 24 seats in the House of Assembly. This result alarmed the British Government, which was surprised by the strong showing of the PPP. It considered the PPP as too friendly with communist organisations.”
    I remember too well my father’s “suck teeth” each time a PPP win was announced on the radio.
    A popular ditty of the times went:
    ‘Doctah Jagan, lawyer Burnham,
    Fightin fuh coolie and black man freedom.”
    18 out of 24 seats!
    It must have sent shivers down the spine of the British Empire from #10 Downing Street all the way down to British Falkland Islands.
    En passant, a shiver resulted in the overthrow of the of the Government of B. G. – a Government that had been elected only four months earlier:
    In an election free of fraud.
    In an election for which the only voter qualification was “aged 21 or older.”
    In an election that demonstrated the will of the people in no uncertain terms.
    http://markcurtis.wordpress.com/2007/02/12/the-intervention-in-british-guiana-1953/
    The Burnham / Jagan split up, in 1955 was, in my opinion, the start of a racial divide that is eating Guyana from within (and extending out to the diaspora) up to this day.
    As a Guyanese by birth only, the best I think I can do is stay out of the fray and think of ways to heal a nation that could have been great!
    Until two of its most brilliant leaders parted company.

  • Deen  On 08/03/2014 at 12:30 pm

    Freddie Kissoon’s article appears to give some strong message of marginalization with regards to Afro-Guyanese. But, Guyana is a poor country with a population of approximately 751,000 people and both major groups, Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese suffer economic hardship and poverty. Of course, we know a country with 83,000 square with rich natural resources and such a small population can do economically better if it is managed well, but the country remains deeply divided and is steeped in corruption, drugs and crimes.

    Freddie Kissoon appears to have an inveterate dislike for the PPP/C or any opposing political party or leader that does not function in accordance with his political beliefs and expectations. I question the conclusion of his article where he stated:
    “But then you see that Guyana has a population that is half Africans who are the security guards, police constables and army privates taking home G$40,000 (US$200) a month.”

    I do not know the details of Guyana’s 2012 census, but the Afro-Guyanese population was always less than half of Guyana’s population. And both Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese work as security guards, police constables and army privates who take home the same pay. It may not be G$40,000 for all categories, but some do better than others, with the same pay, based on their lifestyles.

    I agree with Kamtan, it’s an imperfect analogy to make any reference with Guyana and Brazil. Especially, based on the fact that Brazil is united and thriving and Guyana is not. Brazil is a more stable and integrated society despite its diversity and ethnicity.

    Based on all the political dissension, poor leadership, and perpetuated corruption with drugs, bribery and criminal activities. the future of Guyana remains dismal and sometimes hopeless. A country divided will never stand.

    Guyana is potentially a rich country with a small population, but the country will remain poor unless there is a dynamic change among the people and their political and community leaders to strive for unity and prosperity in accordance with the country’s motto: One People, One Nation, One Destiny.

  • Ron. Persaud  On 08/03/2014 at 3:30 pm

    This is the source of the opening quote of my previous post.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Guiana
    The omission is regretted.

  • marcelle andrea  On 08/03/2014 at 8:37 pm

    What is Guyana’s national motto?; If I am correct it is “One people, one nation, one destiny”. I do not reside in Guyana at present but wherever I am I am a Guyanaese first and foremost but the racial discord is something that upsets me greatly; how can we as a people move forward and make a better country; Leaders need to be aware that by encouraging discord does nothing for unity and it is only by unification that we can build a great country to be proud of. Work towards living up to the national motto or change it.

  • London  On 08/03/2014 at 11:30 pm

    To Freddie Kissoon: Your reference to African-guyanese as “emancipated slaves” is to my mind derogatory and insulting. Is this truly the only measure of the black population of Guyana? Are there really any “emancipated slaves” in Guyana today? How long must slavery continue to be seen as the prime ‘distinguishing’ factor of African culture? What about the fact that Africa had the earliest monarchial system known; great kings and queens who ruled over vast kingdoms? What about the fact that black Africans have given the world philosophy, medicine, architecture long before the slavery to which you allude was imposed on them by a ruthless, greedy, and godless white culture under the power of the gun? And in more recent times, what about the impressive numbers of Guyana Scholars of African descent who have made Guyana proud? The longer writers like yourself and other ‘scholars’ continue to imply slavery as the hallmark of Afro-guyanese culture, perhaps the longer some of our people, young and old, will continue to suffer from a debilitating ‘slave mentality’. It is time we lost the title of “emancipated slaves”.

  • de castro  On 08/04/2014 at 5:23 am

    Politics is not about race or ethnicity its about ‘opportunity’
    ‘ambition’ ‘dreams’ …..afroamericans have proved that..Jewish Americans have proved that….America is living proof of
    One people one nation one destiny…..

    Some will argue that USA belongs to aboriginal Indians or Eskimos…..USA belongs to no one.
    It is the land of the ‘brave and the freed’
    As Bob Marley sang ‘freedom from mental slavery’

    And so does Guyana ….it belongs to the people not to
    any individual or aboriginal.
    Not wishing to preach the ‘nationalistic’ gospel
    will get off the soapbox and give others chance to
    express their opinions publicly.
    Alehlula ! Amen !
    Gospel according to saint kamtan

  • terencemartindale  On 08/09/2014 at 1:05 am

    this article has been written by one who the english would describe as a “piss-taker”.Someone with 2 degrees in history would do well to be true to it and approach it sincerely or refrain from its mention and simply use “in my opinion”. O.K. Freddie. Brazil is a white Roman-catholic country. the greeks knew African people better than anyone today and 2 degrees in history should tell you enough about making today’s comparisons with such flippancy. Shame on you Freddie.

  • de castro  On 08/09/2014 at 4:08 pm

    Not wishing to defend Freddie….as am sure he can defend himself better. Hope he has taken the rebuke gentlemanly
    by esponding accordingly…..

    Piss e taking can be very amusing….as per comedians.
    As the saying goes
    ‘Many a true words are spoken in jest’

    Why did kings and queens have jesters in their courts !
    Maybe to better understand their subjects physce…

    To rule their kingdoms !
    History
    Its now 2014 not 1014…lets all move forward.
    Salud.

  • Albert  On 08/09/2014 at 5:23 pm

    I had to go back and read the article to see the point Freddie was making. There is a reason he could not make it in more blunt direct terms. I will try to put it another way.

    Some people go to church, read the bible and believe in been generous to their fellow man. That is largely their values. There is another set of values from a game spreading universally called capitalism. The object of the game is to make as much money as possible and is played by a greedy bunch of laisser-faire capitalist. If as a group you are not in the game, of your own accord, or is kept out, you will get trample upon and end up like the beggars outside the football stadium.

  • Albert  On 08/09/2014 at 5:45 pm

    “Emancipated slaves” These kinds of terms can be confusing. Several months ago two young African American men were struggling to take a very heavy piece of furniture up the stairs to the upper floor of my friends house. They rest for a while on the flat service before the next flight of stairs. Their conversation with my friend was on Mexican immigration. In it they referred to the Mexicans as the next set of American slaves. A question arose in my mind: are the slaves not suppose to be the ones at the bottom struggling with heavy loads for minimum wages?

    • de castro  On 08/09/2014 at 6:04 pm

      In a word
      ‘shallowmindedness’

  • de castro  On 08/09/2014 at 5:59 pm

    What motivates a ‘capitalist’ money/profit.
    What motivates a ‘socialist’ welfare/fairness.
    What motivates a ‘communist’ wealth/power.

    That my simple opinion on three major ideological thinking.
    Not to mention the liberals who preach ‘freedom’….anarchy the result.
    Then there is racism
    Nazism
    Racism
    And all the other negativeism we have experienced.
    I TRY TO BE AS POSITIVE and forward thinking as
    possible to protect my sanity.
    Look on the brighter future as life unfolds.

    My spin
    Kamtan

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