“I don’t think we need shared governance forever and ever and ever. We need it as a transition where we can recognize the problems facing every group of Guyanese- in this instance African Guyanese- and to create a State system that is responsive to those problems of those various groups,” he told Cuffy250’s 2nd Annual Forum on the State of Black African Guyana that was held at the Critchlow Labour College.
Alexander noted that while Africans were the first persons to have been brought here by the Europeans, they remain largely dispossessed of wealth, culture and religion and so are only recognized as an ethnic group by exclusion from the others who have retained much of their institutions and identities.
He chided those politicians who propagate the myth that African Guyanese do not face problems. “Unfortunately, our politicians live in a perpetual pretense that Africans ain’t got no problems or that they mustn’t address African problems as specific problems,” said Alexander who is an executive member of the Forbes Burnham Foundation that seeks to promote the life and work of the PNCR’s Founder-Leader and Guyana’s first Executive President. “. It’s a myth because the fact of the matter that the problems of African Guyanese at this time are not being addressed,” he said.
Alexander urged that politicians be driven to address all the problems of all the groups including East Indian Guyanese many of whom, he said, opt to stifle their feelings with political loyalty. “Not only African Guyanese problems are not being addressed because really Indo Guyanese are silenced in the face of oppression by “is ahwe government” but it doesn’t mean lots of them are not suffering the way African Guyanese are suffering but the institutional arrangements for them are different from us because they are being able to retain certain institutions with which they work,” he said.
Currently an Elections Commissioner, Alexander recalled that as the November 2011 election results were coming in he was able to witness first-hand how the country has been broken up into mainly African and East Indian political enclaves based on geography.
He reasoned that African Guyanese were an ethnic group by exclusion because other groups see that segment of the population as “different” although the legal and parliamentary systems are for one Nation State with various ethnic groups.
In the area of governance, he believed that the special treatment being given to Amerindians through a specific law and their entitlement to land rights should be extended to African Guyanese.
Alexander also proposed a system of intra-sovereignty in which the local government system should guarantee communities the right to do certain things in their own right- education, sports, culture, industry- for themselves “unimpeded and unaffected by the State.” “African Guyanese should have a certain degree to conduct their own affairs in their communities not to the exclusion of others,” he added.
At the same time, he proposed that the State revitalizes community sovereignty through financial institutions like the now defunct Guyana Agricultural Investment Bank (GAIBANK) and the Guyana Mortgage Finance Bank (GMFB). “This process of revitalization is in our hand. Need to rise up in consciousness using our history as an example of how it could be done,” he said.
Cuffy250 aims to be an umbrella entity for Black-conscious organizations that are working towards improving the conditions of African Guyanese through education, entrepreneurship, culture and values.