by GHK Lall
I look back this first time at Elections 2020 and cringe that some of the things that I had identified have come to pass. I would have preferred to be embarrassingly wrong on all counts; it turns out that I was closer to the reality than I could have imagined.
First, several times late last year and early this year I had opined that the voting situation post-March 2nd would indicate straight down the middle along racial lines. Today, the numbers, no matter how disputed, still confirm that now inarguable record. This is the sum of us; there is no remainder from the division now made most pronounced by elections.
Second, when almost all were focused on process and count and result, I had positioned the priority as I sensed it on how I saw the outcome and where it would lead us; there was the fear, as shared, that all of 2020 could be lost. Well, it is, isn’t it? I had pointed to outcome and the reality checks of the aftermath, and that is where we are, also. Whereas most were firmly fixed on the routines that they thought would bring us to a comforting and acceptable point, I went ahead and articulated that one side may not be prepared to relinquish power, while the other would be unable to assume it. All Guyanese citizens should know where we are with this at present.
Third, I had hoped and so expressed, that the new and smaller political arrivals (especially ANUG) would make a dent in the national racial voting armor and earn a seat or two and, thus, be spoiler and difference maker. Even that proved to be wishful thinking; the ballot box evidence for the newcomers (the only aspect not contested nor clashed over) served to prove the racial doubletalk and racial hypocrisies so saturating and enduring in this society. It was where everybody and their great grandmothers were so disgusted that they wanted change, cried out for change, shouted in every forum about change, while all the time, they themselves stood immovably and irreversibly devoted to the racial voting patterns and racial traditions that have led us nowhere but to where we are today. The younger, the more concerned, the more educated all ended up in the same two places, to which we have long condemned the multitudes for lacking the wisdom to avoid.
Without belaboring the point, I must say that Guyanese voters have learned to take a page out of the deceptive book of the political juggernauts: they lie, they dissemble, they mislead, and they engage in every subterfuge that devastates truth and anything having to do with principle. With voters like these, then what kind of leaders can we get? Perhaps, more pointedly, what manner of leaders do we deserve? What creatures did we dream of when we ourselves are the epitome of those falsities and farces? Many intentionally misled the new people with a glimmer of hope that they may be able to break the ice, may make a start in changing the course of the conversation, if not remap the outlines of the direction of this society towards where it so desperately needs to go, in realizing that destiny, which has always slunk away on racing feet.
Fourth, I knew, suspected, and heard about a local racial universe that was highly populated with the hateful, the hostile and aggressive, and the perilously antagonistic. To be frank, though I was aware of what was there in our midst, I am overwhelmed today with the volume, the degree, the amount, and the powerful intensity of the passions and prejudices that prevail from both quarters. At the slight risk of exaggeration there are no neighbors anymore, no colleagues anymore, no fellow travelers anymore, no common partakers of common space anymore. There are only blood enemies. I want no part of this, knowing full well that the fleas lodge close to home.
What price power? What price dreams of ascendancy and dominance? What price honesty and integrity resuming a toehold—that only—in this grievously wounded society? I am not near social media, but I am near fellow citizens. The body language is nuanced, it is not of the national. It would be better if people do not try to insult me, by pretending that all is well, that we would rebound and return to normalcy. When and by whose initiative and instrumentality?
Last, and this is painful, even the media channels with which I have had a lengthy relationship have hurled caution to the winds, to rush down a road that drags one and all further down. There is no time nor patience for the reserve of temperateness, in the face of appalling atrocity. There are insistent energies that seek to maintain a narrative that is most unhelpful. I agree that this is a deathlike struggle for truth and justice and understand some of the efforts. But it does not mean that we lose our own sense of equilibrium. Because when we do so, then we are part of the mob, and leave nothing from which to restart and recalibrate. Lost are the ingredients of strength and reputation that once stood, and which should have been maintained at all cost.
Although few are listening, or care to appreciate where I am heading, I think some damage has been done and that may not be repairable. This I did not see coming. We have a lot of pieces to pick up. The questions are: When? By whom? And to what ends? There are so many pieces that the task of national reviving just might be too unconquerable.
My own challenge is that I feel tainted by merely writing about what has happened here and in being near to it. My problem is that I do not wish to be elsewhere.
Mr GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.