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OPINION: A shockingly banal response from Roysdale Forde

Last Updated on Sunday, 3 September 2023, 10:43 by Denis Chabrol

By Randolph Persaud, Professor Emeritus, American University, Washington DC.

Dr. Randolph Persaud

History is the most abused of all disciplines. It is bent this way and that by charlatans, political hucksters, and even the more erudite among us, to achieve pedestrian little victories. Rosydale Forde’s response to my call for an apology for his boorish accusations against President Ali comes to mind. Mr. Forde’s Op-Ed in Village Voice News (8/31/2023) is an exemplary instance of what Keith Windschuttle (1996) called the killing of history. Instead of history per se, Forde offers an inferior form of mythmaking. Allow me to show why and how this touted contender for the PNC leadership, failed so miserably to justify his refusal to do the right thing and apologize to President Ali.

Let us start with the first absurdity put forth by Forde. He writes “[i]n the 21st century where the descendants of enslavers are seeking ways to atone for the brutality committed by their forebears, President Ifraan Ali, “… is making no effort to emulate progressive descendants of the enslavers, but rather mimics the management style and behaviours of bygone centuries.” This is a shocking statement because Forde seems to be unaware that slaves were commodities, that is, private property of European plantation owners. They were routinely beaten, starved, raped, and murdered for hundreds of years (John Hope Franklin; A. Mbembe). They were never paid for the back-breaking work they did (Rodney). How could the “management style” of anyone in Guyana or anywhere else in the world be compared to what transpired centuries ago?

Mr. Forde has disrespected the ancestors, as well as those descendants who today are rightfully agitating for reparative justice.

Forde then wants to “…hold President Ali to account for the atrocities of his three-year-old administration.” The chief “atrocity” is that wages are low. Well, if low wages constitute an atrocity, then the leaders in numerous countries in the Caribbean (Jamaica, Haiti, Suriname, Dominican Republic), and across Africa have been committing atrocities. In one fell swoop, Attorney at Law Roysdale Forde has charged, tried, and convicted dozens of Global South leaders for crimes that only he is aware of, and for which he has the last right of disposal.

The Honorable Member of Parliament Mr. Roysdale A. Forde is hereby informed that the per capita GDP of Guyana rose by 131.53% between 2019 and 2023. The Honorable MP Forde is also hereby advised that his data on poverty is long outdated. Sir, I refer you to the numerous corrections offered by Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh.

The other arguments of Mr. Forde range from petty and silly, to those based on wholesome ignorance. Take, for instance, the point that President Ali instructed me to ask for the apology. Since there is no empirical basis for this childish accusation, I can only surmise that it is informed by the ways in which Mr. Forde received instructions from General Granger. Unlike the carboard presidency, Dr. Irfaan Ali is always out there engaging citizens across the country. I can assure you Sir, that the president has more important things to do than request an apology from you.

Forde harks back to the accusations of extrajudicial killings. He probably has in mind what happened to Walter Rodney, Vincent Teekah, Shirley Field Ridley, Father Darke, and the countless others, such as the sugar workers from Enterprise Village who were kidnapped and disappeared.

Roysdale Forde acknowledged the points I made on the politics of guilt vis á vis the White West. This is a good start, and I encourage the gentleman to avail himself the implications of what he rightfully “noted.” Let me further clarify the issue.

I am arguing that APNU and WPA activists are using the history of slavery as a political instrument in Guyana. They know that liberals in the White West have unfathomable guilt and shame over slavery, and that they want to atone. The APNU and WPA activists (including their academic friends overseas) know that White liberal folks will “jump” at any accusation of racism against people of African ancestry. White guilt is basis for a kind of historical currency that liberal Whites use to payback for past crimes. Mr. Forde is operating like an investor in White guilt, even if inadvertently so. Note he is only doing this to ruin the image of the PPP-C. The objective is “shared governance,” which is an extra-judicial killing of the constitution.

Roysdale Forde has divided the world into the saved and the dammed, into a Manichean world, compartmentalized along racial lines. His thesis is that one side has History on its side. For him that is enough, because suffering the only basis of legitimate belonging.

My call for an apology to President Ali stands.

Dr Randolph Persaud is an Advisor at the Office of the President

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September 2023