by GHK Lall
What is a manifesto, other than a collection of words and a rush of marketing messages? What is a manifesto, besides being a piece of paper made to mean something, especially that which the circumstances demand? Give the people what they want to hear, what sells, and the rest usually takes care of itself.
As I see it, a manifesto – and I do not care anymore from whom and where it originates – is a pack of pages, which has made jokers of the entire Guyanese population. It will continue to do this time again. A genuine manifesto could mean something noble, transform into something stirring and progressive. But only if real men – principled men, trustworthy men, clean men – are prepared to commit reputation and soul, heart and will and future history, to make what functions as a manifesto come alive.
From my perspective, for such to occur, there has to be credible political aspirants, men whose character, whose very sweat, hold forth promise and give something on which to hope. It does not have to be the absolute perfection of 100 percent, but it cannot be in the single digits of what has been tasted here, realized here. And I will take less than the immaculate, if only to account for the frailty and reality of human nature, the temptations of power and circumstances, and what has been the sorry, ugly story of this society. I say this, regardless of who is involved; I stand by this, without sparing any political source. Because of the limitations of man, the known and historical Guyanese man, I could accept 60-70 percent performance, but not the cypher of what has been lived with here. Because even when matters have had some positive, they have been severely polluted.
It is why I utterly detest to open the paper (or hear others), and be bombarded with these lies, these patented and copyrighted deceits. I think of them as the equivalent of men, who have had a history of fooling the unsuspecting, through the commitment of matrimonial partnership, while failing to disclose the existing bigamist relationships. And of the ones that are contemplated and await, and which will be engaged in, and cannot be resisted. That is what political manifestos amount to in this country: one more example of the unerring frauds wreaked upon an already savaged and hurting land. And as if that kind of marriage is not bad enough (and when it is challenged and deteriorates more than irreconcilably), then a manifesto becomes like a court order of protection that fails in its intentions and falls apart with fatality.
In my view, political manifestos in this country have risen (or degraded) to that which brings false hope, but only leads to the greatest of insecurities, and worst of horrors. The annals of this country so attest, and in volumes, as well as in spades. They are best left unprinted; should not be made public and uttered in the same cycles of courting, swooning, deceiving, and then jilting. The Guyanese voter and Guyanese citizen has existed on the rocks for more than a half century now, sharp jagged stones that stab and scar.
We listen expectantly (well, some do) to manifestos, and then we run for the nearest exits, the quicker the better. The sentiment is: just get me far away from such folks. As far as possible, as in the United States, or anywhere that will accept. With such an exodus of refugees over the decades, what is left are the dregs that dredge up manifestos such as the ones that surface and make the rounds. They have their crowd of curious, their share of listeners, even more than a few believers. Perhaps, they have no choice, but to believe that there just may be something in there for them. Whatever that something is, it will be grasped gratefully, since there is nothing else.
It is this or be prepared to take that, and the ‘that’ is so well known, as to be recoiled from: in horror, in fear, and in anger, too. It is the specter of the other side, and the sum of Guyanese politics, its Guyanese players, and the terrible plight of the Guyanese people. The latter know better, but is trapped, and as such is resigned to the inevitable: of this one or that one.
In regular life, there are a couple of simple tests that should enlighten as to what is wholesome, and which could be constructive, arguably self-protecting. It is a standard that goes like this: would I buy a house from this man or woman? Or, would I be comfortable conducting business with such a person, as partner, or participant, even as witness?
Without exception, if my own response to either or both of those inquiries is in the negative, then I will not engage. I will neither share nor entertain, and this is regardless of the apparent bargain or the definite, provable present and future benefits to be gained by so doing. This is how I have come to look at political manifestos in this country: long and lovely in promise (acoustics), slippery and slovenly in performance (acrobatics).
And even as I say this, I recognize that a fool (sucker) is born every minute, and Guyana is unmatched in delivering them. There are none gladder than local politicians with such an environment, such a people.
Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.