Guyana Politics: Heroes, Monsters and ORDER – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Heroes, Monsters and ORDER – by Francis Quamina Farrier

The result of the December 21, 2018, NO CONFIDENCE vote in the Guyana Parliament, remains a HOT TOPIC in Guyana, as well as in the vast Guyanese Diaspora worldwide. In fact, it is still unfolding with a number of unexpected twists and turns, as it was spawned by the “YES” vote itself. As a colleague of mine described it as, “The mother of all “YES” votes in the history of the Guyana Parliament”.

Recently I came across an old photograph of the Public Buildings, which seemed to be well over 100 years old. The photograph also showed scores of ordinary people on the Brickdam pavement and military clad persons inside the compound. It seems that there was no fence around the building at the time the photograph was taken, and certainly no statue of the iconic labour leader Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow in the north east of the compound. In addition, there was no big screen and loud speakers that now project the sitting of Parliament to citizens outside its chambers in real time. Since the photograph was not dated, I wondered what was the specific event and whether it had resulted in as dramatic an upheaval as occasioned by the recent December 21, 2018 sitting of the Parliament.         

I also wondered what the Citizens of Georgetown of 2118 would be thinking of us who were in and around the Parliament on that  historic day in December 2118, as we may do of our ancestors of 1918, and earlier, who chatted one-one-one about what had happened in the Legislative Council (Parliament) that day. Back then when there was no Radio, telephone, television and certainly no means of social media, which now send happenings in the Parliament world-wide almost instantly.

The Historic Public Buildings on Brickdam, over a century ago. A sitting of the Legislature (Parliament) as scores of citizens converge on the pavement.

The former colony of British Guiana, now our Cooperative Republic of Guyana, continues on a journey, with laws being passed to make life’s journey for citizens as smooth as possible. The sad fact that many laws on the Books, are not enforced as they should – the speeding and over-loading of mini buses is a simple example. Part of our daily activities includes travel, be it by private means or by public transportation; and as such, there needs to be order, in order that we enjoy some order in our transportation activities. “Order! Order! ORDER!” had come from the lips of those who held the high office of the Speaker of the House of Assembly over the decades. The same of the sitting Speaker. He (never a woman, so far) would demand order from time to time when debates get somewhat over-heated in the highest forum of the State.

There is need for more “PUBLIC ORDER”, which should be one of our National Objectives as 2019 continues to unfold. You would probably refer to the recent passing of that NO CONFIDENCE Motion in the country’s parliament and conclude that there was lots of disorder in the House, as a forceful “YES, YES, YES” vote came from the lips of a member of the government side of the House who acted on what he claims was a “conscience vote”, and which delivered a shock like a broadside wallop from an angry bull cow. There were even a few expletives, from a couple of shocked government parliamentarians. That, “YES. YES. YES”, a three-letter word said three times by that (former) member of the government, has created history – history that continues to unfold, and will most likely change the functioning and order of the Guyana Parliament forever.

The Public Buildings on Brickdam, Georgetown in 2019. Note one of the Big Screens on which the activities inside the Parliament Chamber is streamed for the public. (Photo by F.Q, Farrier)

That act by one self-expressed disgruntled Member of the Government, in the Guyana Parliament on December 21, 2018, has polarized Guyanese quite a lot. However, polarization due to political events has happened before and Guyanese have over-come them to some degree. Quite true lots of Guyanese both at home and abroad have become (more) disillusioned because of many of the happenings in the country over the past two decades; poor racial relations and the state of crime in the country being two examples. But as the saying goes, “It is darkest before the dawn”. There is also another saying; “Behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.” You might want to add, yet another inspirational saying; “Out of evil cometh good”.

Fact is that while many people have been calling the former member of the House all sorts of uncomplimentary names, and in one case, even superimposing an image of his face on the head of a cobra snake in an online cartoon. Equally, there are many persons have also been referring to him as a hero. I’ve even heard two songs about him; the first was composed and out on social media, within 24 hours of the NO CONFIDENCE Vote.  This has caused me to reflect on a Martin Carter poem that I frequently recite at public performances: “This I have learnt, today a speck, tomorrow a hero. Hero or Monster, you are involved.” I will not be surprised to hear a song or two about this Hot Topic at this year’s Mashramani Calypso Competition, since traditionally, many calyposes are spawned of controversial political issues.

So there was Guyana’s national poet, Martin Carter, writing about “Heroes” and “Monsters” in Guyana, well over half a century ago and pointing out in that poem: “All are involved”, and that “All are consumed.” From December 21, 2018, to the present time, January 20, 2019, Guyana’s contemporary and controversial history continues to unfold, in the words of that very Martin Carter poem which states: “Like a web is spun a pattern.”

To be sure however, the Guyana Parliament will be conducted and parliamentarians of Guyana will conduct themselves as never before, and a hundred years from now, our history students and history buffs would probably find it very intriguing; even as the principal players and the minor players of today, would have all gone from the Stage of Life. That Martin Carter poem concludes; “ALL are consumed.” Nonetheless, in the year of 2018, there are two historic Houses of Worship on Brickdam which celebrated significant miles stones; The 200 year old St. Andrew’s Kirk which is located directly opposite the Parliament, and the 175 year old Smith Congregational Church which is a few blocks east. In those and many other Houses of Worship on Brickdam and all around the country, and even abroad, Prayers will be offered up for Peace, Prosperity and Unity for the Citizens of our “Beautiful Guyana”.

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 01/17/2019 at 2:12 pm

    I wasn’t aware that there is now a Big Screen that streams activities within Parliament for the public. Do people on the street gather to look on?

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