Hinds’Sight – The Real State of Villages …something has to be done fast

Hinds’Sight – The Real State of Villages …something has to be done fast

Dr. David Hinds

Dr. David Hinds

October 4, 2015 –  By Dr. David Hinds

I HAD the privilege of visiting several African-Guyanese villages as part of the Cuffy 250 Committee’s community outreach. During those visits, we got an opportunity to talk to villagers about the state of their communities and their views on contemporary politics. We also got to see for ourselves the real state of the villages; and what we discovered was shocking, even for those of us who interfaced with those villages on a regular basis.

It became clear to us that the change of government removed the lid on a lot of pent-up frustrations. The communities had mastered the art of masking their hurt and neglect.  

I mention the above to draw attention to one of the consequences of one-party government, especially those that last for as long as our two previous governments did. I am, of course, talking about fear. It would shock the country if we knew the level of fear that had developed in the African-Guyanese community over the last two decades. And Indian-Guyanese activists have also reported fear in their communities, even if it was manifested differently. Individual fear is bad enough, but collective fear is crippling. It consumes the entire community; it kills resistance, and induces accommodation with power. Apathy becomes the norm, and people turn to fun as an escape from the social realities.

All of this happened in the African community over the last two decades. The physical infrastructure in almost all the communities we visited is in an advanced state of disrepair. Roads, kokers, bridges, canals and school buildings are all in terrible condition. In some communities, there is not a single street light.

Education is in equally bad shape. School-dropouts are widespread; libraries are non-existent; most communities do not have community centres and playgrounds; and where they exist, they are surrounded by bush and are dysfunctional. Health centres are often absent; and where they are present, they are understaffed, always out of drugs, and sometimes inaccessible to residents, given their physical condition.

Unemployment and underemployment, in most cases, represent more than half of the communities, in particular the youth. Many NGOs have gone into the villages and did a lot of skills training, which have not led to jobs or business enterprises. There are very few thriving businesses owned by villagers. Often, the villages cannot be sustained by the very weak buying power of the communities.

One of the shocking things we found was the absence of community organisations — no youth clubs, no sports organisations, no functioning PTAs. The previous administration used the Community Development Councils (CDCs) as substitutes for community organisation. Often, these CDCs consist of a few PPP sympathisers who encouraged a begging mentality in the villages; there was no need to organise for self-reliance anymore.

We found that the NDCs were the most hated organisations. They have become sources of enrichment for councillors. Corruption is open and unchallenged. People fear the chairpersons, who often operate as gangsters and dons rather than community leaders.
Community lands and other resources are leased without any consultation with the residents.

How could people live under such conditions for so long? It is clear that some communities have learned to live on the edge — in survival mode, but the price is high. Although the government has changed, the scars from two decades of beating are fresh. It is difficult to get people in the villages to work together. The community spirit is on life-support. People are comfortable working in small, isolated enclaves. The level of mistrust of fellow villagers is high; they almost instinctively reject collective efforts. They boast about what they do in small spaces, and often are oblivious to the fact that the larger space continues to rapidly decline.

Something has to be done in those communities — and fast!

(More of Dr. Hinds’s writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website http://www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com. Send comments to dhinds6106@aol.com)

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  • De castro  On 10/05/2015 at 4:06 am

    An exposé on how not to do things. Hope to read more on how to change things
    in peublos (villages) up and down the country.
    Today in Spain there are villages that are “during” slowly as the next generation
    leaves them for the towns and city. This is also happening in China and other parts of the world. It is a natural progression but with some innovative ideas supported by the political class it can all change…..hopefully sooner than later.
    In a word
    Education education education…..not necessarily “academia” but available
    information in public institutions.
    Information is power
    Empower the people with this availability/accessibility to information.
    Internet availability in places of learning for starters.

    Am sending this message on a tablet device in my home in Spain
    which has WiFi access. Tablet I purchased in UK for £35 delivered to my home
    Next day ordered over internet.
    It is not rocket science …..it is the world in which we live.today.

    Literacy and numeracy should be the basic requirement for advancement at the lowest levels of communities.
    Not wishing to preach the gospel let’s see how quickly the necessary changes
    can be implemented in the land of my forefathers. Am optimistic for Guyana s next generations future.

    Compton de castro

  • sirenagx  On 10/14/2015 at 4:18 pm

    It is so easy to blame everything on a political party in govt., without taking into account individual behavior and group cooperation or lack thereof, self help and leadership within small communities. From the 40s or sooner, Indians who remained in agriculture started to use education to move into alll other occupations, while blacks mostly moved out of agriiculture and into white collar jobs, principally civil service and professions, with no interest in getting into agriculture.since then. First, civil servants get a pretty decent(*?) wage ands not too physical work conditions, unfortunately, it does not provide for wealth clreation (unless corrupt). On the other hand agricultural & other farm products provides greater chance of wealth creation for farmers and livestock owners. My understanding is that freed slaves bought land individually and together. With little education, provided thru small farming and labour they provided opportunity for their children to become professionals & civil servants with little govt help under the British. So mr. Hinds, perhaps blacks should remember their history and entrepreneurial spirit, together with taking a strong stand for their rights to be heard by their govt. This is not simple, but people must recognize that unity builds strength and helps to achieve goals that would take longer or just wait for govt to do better. The wealth & influence gap between blacks & Indians perhaps, reflects more of less their choice of. occupations and mind set. Time to return to the land and more self employment. I Maybe naive but think motre can be done than waiting on govt..
    Old Mudhead as we were once called by our Island friends.

    • De castro  On 10/14/2015 at 10:14 pm

      An interesting prognosis of Guyana historically.
      Question …so why are villages stagnating ?
      Lack of leadership or central government support ?

      Village leaders cannot function without the support or endorsement of central government. That’s why local elections are as important or even more important than national elections.
      Literacy and numeracy at village level way forward.
      Funding made available by central government.

      Keeping villagers illiterate and innumerate was policy of previous government.
      Let’s see how new kids on block tackle this issue.
      Information is power so empower the people by making the information available to all “free” ….technology is available today for doing so….but
      Literacy and numeracy are essentials for this progression……observe the Cuban revolution in this field. UK has more illiterates than Cuba today ….as per UN s report …demographically speaking.
      Every Cuban child and teenager receives free education up to degree level….a few who show academic abilities/ambitions go on to their doctorate.
      Cuba is a world leader in medical research !
      Not to mention free health care.

      To conclude
      Internet is the revolution of the 21st century an opportunity for Guyana and next generation of Guyanese to shine….give them the tools to get the job done.
      Free internet to schools and local government. Way forward.


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