OPINION: The suffering, violence and corruption we choose – By Mosa Telford 

Stabroek News – By Mosa Telford

The Suffering

Hardships, distress and pain cling to us like skin on bones. The suffering many Guyanese face is rooted in living beneath the poverty line. But even when we have found our places of comfort and peace and believe that we will not suffer, we are soon reminded that we cannot escape.

Circumstances like long lines at the Central Immigration Passport Office have returned to remind us of our suffering. Despite there being offices in Linden and Berbice, we have regressed.       

Whether people are trying to leave the country or there is an alarming number of new applicants due to expired passports, it is unacceptable that we have returned to those long lines, especially in a time of COVID. It is unacceptable that in 2021 we cannot apply for a passport online. Are we not an evolved people with the skills, intelligence and technological advancements to set up the system for online passport applications?

The people standing in those lines seemed calm and patient. I surmise that many are comfortable in our suffering. But we are not a primitive society, even though constantly regressing and seemingly basking in the shadows of our failures might convince observers that we are. Perhaps I too delude myself into thinking we are not.

We grapple with several social issues that result in unnecessary suffering.  The systems to ensure that we can manage our affairs safely, timely and comfortably are inadequate. There is nothing sophisticated about the daily inconveniences which are eliminated in many other societies. It is the choices that we have made that have led us here. Whether we must stand for hours in a line to make a passport application in 2021 or be at the mercy of uncouth and, often underpaid personnel in all sectors, we choose this because we accept that it is just the state of things and do not make concerted efforts to influence change. Maybe the truth is that those who benefit from the corruption and incompetence are quite comfortable with things remaining unchanged. But are you?

Our suffering also includes inconveniences like blackouts. Blackouts should have been eliminated here a few decades ago. The passion and commitment of our former enslaved and indentured ancestors to build this country seemed to have died with them and their immediate descendants. Perhaps a few visionaries have emerged since Independence and perhaps most of them are also dead.

In 2021 there are still disruptions in our water supply. Are we not ashamed that we are known as the land of many waters, but citizens are still being left for hours without water? Almost daily I browse GWI’s Facebook page, and they are constantly making apologies. Several times a week now the residents of Georgetown and other areas are left without running water for several hours. Is this acceptable because they often inform us?

We pay for essential services and receive subpar service. Whether it is phone, internet, electricity or water, we are expected to accept a modicum with a smile.

The Violence

But we smile through much of the suffering here. Like the violence. Most Guyanese are conditioned to accept that violence is an essential part of our society. The violence penetrates our homes, learning institutions and wider society to resolve conflict and for discipline. So, are we surprised when young men are executed? Or when spouses kill their partners? Or when children are murdered? Or when horrific sexual crimes are exposed? Or when people are robbed and injured or killed? Like businessman Harry Mattai who was stabbed by bandits a week ago. No one is safe.

We need to stop feigning shock when we watch videos like that of the mini-bus driver chasing a police officer with a cutlass. The reaction of many was to laugh. Research might tell us that many Guyanese are psychologically damaged. Or perhaps the laughter is to cover the discomfort and sadness. Part of the violence is that there is often no respect for the law. And part of the issue also is that many officers of the law are also deep in corrupt practices.

The mini-bus culture is a part of the culture of violence. Not as a collective since I know there are decent drivers and conductors who do not assault their passengers or the police. But a large section of them, are despicable. And it is the passengers that continue to choose and enable them. I have seen mini-buses speeding, playing loud music and packed in this time of COVID.

Drivers and conductors are still disrespecting their passengers. I watched a video where a mini-bus conductor assaulted a passenger who simply asked that he turn down the music. He was charged. But most Guyanese who use minibuses seem to enjoy the assault on their ears. Part of the violence is that people are so accustomed to the suffering that many would sit in a mini-bus or any other speeding vehicle and wait for death.

The Corruption

From the misleaders to the people, corruption penetrates this society. Corruption stems from paying the average Guyanese a wage of suffering while fat cats enrich themselves and make little contribution to advancing this society. Sugar workers are calling for increased wages while billions have gone into bailing out the sugar industry.

What is sad and leads to much of the corruption is that some people believe that while they are in positions of power, they must rape the country.

Corruption is young people believing that the drug trade is a way out. This is also cause for much of the violence we experience. Increasingly we are seeing their faces in the news when they are caught with illicit drugs. But the truth is it is a way out of poverty for many of them. They emboldened while the major beneficiaries of the drug trade may sit in the shadows and watch.

Corruption is promising every Guyanese household $25,000 (app $100.US) COVID relief and excluding many from receiving because they did not own the building in which they lived. Common sense will tell even some with the lowest intelligence quotient that an average Guyanese paying rent probably needs the COVID relief more than the landlord. But corruption has left many Guyanese with a pink slip and a promise.

COVID has been here for a more than a year. The masks may cover our smiles and frowns, but our eyes tell the sadness many are grappling during this awful time. Twenty-five thousand Guyana dollars, per household, is what Guyanese have been told that the government can afford after many people lost their jobs due to closure of business or other circumstances. Parents have children to feed. The price of food has increased. But we are sitting quietly enduring the suffering, the violence and the corruption we choose in this oil rich country. Corruption is when we must ask ourselves, who will benefit from Guyana’s oil wealth and the average man is sure that it is not them.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • Dennis Albert  On 05/02/2021 at 4:10 pm

    “Corruption is when we must ask ourselves, who will benefit from Guyana’s oil wealth and the average man is sure that it is not them.”

    As Sarah Ann Lynch, Lilian Chaterjee and the developed countries proclaimed, “Guyanese voted for democracy in 2020”.

    Today, a social media streamer is facing trumped up charges of “emotionally harming” a son of a notorious former Minister who admitted that “it would have been me” when referring to allegations of being involved with Roger Khan’s spy equipment.

    Yet, the death threats which were posted on FB against former President Granger during his tenure did not result in that many convictions or charges; except warnings.

  • brandli62  On 05/07/2021 at 11:42 am

    The daily violence has to be stopped. It’s mind-boggling reading every day about people being killed. How long do the Guyanese people want to accept the carnage?

    • Dennis Albert  On 05/07/2021 at 6:59 pm

      Life is very hard for the average Guyanese. Domestic violence and child abuse run rampant, and they are dealt with when a “peasant class” is accused of harassing the elites.

  • Ram esh  On 05/09/2021 at 12:14 pm

    “Are we not an evolved people with the skills, intelligence and technological advancements to set up the system for online passport applications?” Bemoans M. Telford.

    Why is anyone surprised?

    The short answer to Telford’s question is “no “. But why?

    With all the excitement about the discovery of oil and gas, Guyana remains anchored as one of poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere – with a post-colonial history of blistering corruption spanning all aspects of governance and blighted by brutal economic hardships.

    For hundreds of years, colonial occupiers systematically extracted our wealth to enrich their own countries at our expense. On May 26, it will have been 55 years since the end of those centuries of exploitation.

    The decades to follow saw a tumultuous and bitter period of economic stagnation (and assassinations) as the country was being plundered from within by a tinpot dictatorship, sustained by one rigged election after another. Now, Ms. Telford laments the spectacle of people lining up for passports. Under the Dictator, they were lining up for both food and passports. Basic food staples were banned by the Dictator as the people suffered in a state of hopelessness. It was heartbreaking! Our people couldn’t get out fast enough. More than a million of our fellow brothers and sisters now reside in the United States, Canada, England, and numerous other countries. It was that bad in the post-independence years. People with no qualifications were given top positions in government. Many of the qualified were ignored.

    The situation descended into a classic case of Darwinism – survival of the fittest. Those with the means and the brains exited the country in droves, leaving behind broken dreams, separated families, and a mess.

    Poverty breeds poverty. And misery leads to decay – both emotional and economic decay. The trend will continue for the foreseeable future, unfortunately. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight! Guyana, with all its natural beauty and resources, just cannot free itself from misery, like a man condemned waiting for the executioner.

    Ramesh

  • Dennis Albert  On 05/09/2021 at 4:01 pm

    The IMF predicts that Guyana GDP PPP per capita from 2020-2026 are as follows:
    Guyana 19,684 23,258 34,737 46,238 48,439 50,764 53,132

    The median income for 2020 is a measly US$320 a month, or less than US$4000 a year, the white man building up the concrete factory illegally near my uncle’s house getting rich or what?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s