Ethnic Problematic re Proposed Opposition Pre Election Coalition in Guyana – By Dr. David Hinds

The Ethnic Problematic of the proposed Opposition Pre Election Coalition in Guyana

Dr. David Hinds

Dr. David Hinds

Dr. David Hinds

In a recent commentary on my YouTube Channel, Hinds’Sight: Guyana-Caribbean Politics, I began what I hope would be an enlightened discourse about the problematic of the proposed APNU/AFC pre-election coalition from an ethnic standpoint. As expected, some supporters of the AFC’s primary formulae of Brother Moses Nagamootoo being the Presidential Candidate and the AFC leading such a coalition, immediately accused me of introducing race into the discourse. What race has to do with this, they ask.

I sympathize with that question. After all, race and ethnicity, among other things, evoke as many denials as acknowledgements. Some people acknowledge race as an important persistent socio-political and economic factor on Monday and deny it’s salience on Tuesday. There is a school of thought in Ethnic Studies that deals with this phenomenon. As human beings we tend, in part, to order the world to suit our objectives. And we Guyanese are no different.

Whether we individually deny it or not, ethnicity has been the major consideration when Guyanese address high stake issues such as government and political economy.  Ethnicity is a historical phenomenon that is at the heart of the evolution of our society. The idealist in us always asks why we can’t get past ethnicity. In some regards we are really asking people to deny a major aspect of their collective identity out of which flows the construction of an important part of their day to day reality. No wonder they have paid us little or no mind to date. I submit that we would be better off advancing a narrative that links people’s ethnic interests with the national interests rather than hollering at them to ignore or discard their ethnic identity and interests.

Back to the issue at hand. The major point of my commentary is that the architects of the AFC proposal are probably and I am sure unintentionally taking African Guyanese ethnic sensitivities for granted while shielding and/or appeasing Indian Guyanese. The unspoken reasoning is that Indian Guyanese electorate would not vote for a PNC Presidential candidate and by extension an African Guyanese candidate (Note the AFC has not put up one of its African Guyanese leaders for the top spot). The conclusion, then, is that African Guyanese would or should vote for an Indian Guyanese candidate. I think that the latter assumption is based on two premises. First, historically, African Guyanese have shown more inclination to vote for candidates that are not of their ethnic group. Second,  their minority status coupled with almost 23 years of PPP rule have led to a higher level of desperation that in turn would drive them to ignore their normal ethnic considerations.

My argument is that such reasoning ignores a major aspect of ethnicity—Ethnic Honor.  The  unintended but real subtext of this reasoning is that African Guyanese quest for equal right to top leadership must be sacrificed in the pursuit of expediency—the removal of the PPP. What is being ignored is that after 23 years of an Indian Guyanese presidency, African Guyanese are being asked to vote for another Indian Guyanese presidency. Further, and perhaps more importantly, it is being signaled to African Guyanese, that none of their own leaders fits the bill as a consensus national figure. In an ethnically competitive society, that is a very serious element.

We are in effect asking African Guyanese to make a tremendous sacrifice. As I hinted above, the Indian Guyanese community is not being asked to make the same ethnic sacrifice. In ethnic societies equality or equal burden is always a consideration. The question that has to be answered here is what equal sacrifice the Indian Guyanese electorate is being asked to make. Yes they would be voting for a party other than the PPP. But, as those who voted for the AFC did in 2011, they would be voting for someone of their own ethnic group.

Finally to those AFC supporters who are angry at me for introducing race into the debate. First, I wish to remind them that the AFC proposal itself is grounded in race—what would sell in the Indian Guyanese community. Second, as a public person, part of what I do is examine and critique that which is put in the public domain, even when it comes from friends and comrades. Third, I come from a political tradition that deals with the uncomfortability surrounding race by confronting it; not ignoring it. Fourth, part of my activism is dedicated to the defense and furtherance of African Guyanese interests. Hence, my weighing in on an issue which that community is expected to sanction.

Dr. David Hinds, a political activist and commentator, is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University. More of his writings and commentaries can be found on his You tube Channel  Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and  on his website

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  • Thinker  On 01/25/2015 at 1:52 pm

    Hinds is just telling it like it is. However, the only real option for Guyana is to give greater support to the AFC.

  • sirenagx  On 01/26/2015 at 3:01 pm

    As long as the perception persists among guyanese that if the face of the President does not look like them, they will be victimized or marginalized. It appears that this is more important than how many of them hold Ministerial or high positions in government or even if many existing polices benefit them. One wonders if a afro-guyanese were to be selected b y the PPP, whether like the PM, he would be called a token or hojuse slave. Which is common with any one supporting the PPP. The same may happen if an Indian is on top for the PNC. Until s leader from either party or from a new political group from civil society runs and wins enough seats to change the dynamics, nothing will change. The sad thing is Guyana wkithout doubt with its natural resources and small population can within 10 to 15 years be one of the 50 best places to live. Unfortunately, politicians are more importants than policies, personalities than progress, ministerial jobs than jobs for supporters., Who is Presaident is more important than what is on the breakfast table of the guyanese voter. Poor Guyana, the choices are between bad and worse, political power for a few or progress for more. Up to voters now

  • Thinker  On 01/28/2015 at 5:22 am

    The PPP declared a long time ago through the real house slave Roger Luncheon that there were no qualified Blacks to head any of its diplomatic missions abroad. There never was a retraction. So no one ever wants to have to put up with such arrogance again and you can be sure that any future government must really be representative. A working agreement must be finalised and part of that must be to change the dictatorial Burnham constitution that the PPP was so happy to embrace. Only then will Guyana have a fair chance to crawl out of the cesspit it finds itself in. We can also hope that the Amerindian and Mixed population will increase rapidly.

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