OPINION: African Guyanese existence again systematically targeted, continually eroded

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 January 2023, 7:14 by Denis Chabrol

by GHK Lall

The PPP Government and leadership can either be congratulated or condemned for its relentless commitment, its premediated visions, to target African Guyanese communities, interests, ways of life, and then systemically erode all three.  The latest involves cooperatives and idle lands (Demerara Waves, January 23), as presented by the Hon. Minister of Labor.  On the one hand, I go out of my way to congratulate the PPP brain trust for coming up with yet another perverse scheme that indicates the energies that are devoted to delivering the vindictive, vengeful, and vicious thrusted again at the breast of African Guyanese.  On the other, there can only be the harshest denunciations, the sharpest curses, at the latest expression focused on coops and lands left idle, which does nothing but strip a people, layer by layer, of their dignity, their presence, and a respectful belonging. From my perspective, the message from the PPP to the African Guyanese community is simple as it is telling: deal with us on our terms, step over to our side, or this is what is going to happen, with more planned, and more to take shape in their implementations.

I must say that it takes a considerable amount of twisted thinking, a doggedly calculating mentality, to drum up, then come out, with such an objective now laid at the feet of a besieged segment of Guyana’s population.  Amid all the breathtaking things that are going on, it is enlightening about what burns in the soul of the PPP, when it unveils this development involving cooperatives and idle lands.  No matter the manner this is looked at, from whatever angle or elevation, I come to the same conclusion: there is a sinister and ominous vision harbored that has as its sole destination, the reduction of the African Guyanese community to that of chattels and dependents, subject to the ruthless dictates and the dangled paternalism of a PPP Government that keeps venturing into territory best slowly and patiently cultivated, rather than consumed by the official unsheathed sword.  I recall that there were some people, and a government over in Europe just under a century ago, that this PPP Government now eerily resembles when things like these surface.  I invite my fellow Guyanese to do the comparisons and see what they come up with, how close they come in the parallels that targeted jobs, strongholds, and culture, until there was nothing left, as all were decimated to the bone and the bitterness of ashes that linger to this day.  Those who are keen students of history know that that can be taken literally.

As is the norm, the PPP has a cover story, and it has the usual ring; at least, on the surface, and within limited confines.  According to Demerara Waves, the PPP lead on this coop and idle lands issue had this to say: “those that want to work for development, we will work with them but what we will not continue to have happen- people utilising the farcical umbrella of coop societies when they have government land in their possession and I have no apology to make. The action, as I have said, is either they resolve these matters or they will be dissolved.”

“Work for development”, it is.  Who defines that, and using what clear and consistent standard?  Regarding “the farcical umbrella of coop societies”, I am sure that there are those, but my interpretation is that that could be a smokescreen for what usually turns out to be the camouflage and subterfuge for draining away pockets of African Guyanese presence to the advantage of the PPP Government, and whatever clever visions and objectives are in mind.  The matter of IDPADA-G and the unilateral cessation of the bulk of its funds came about  under a similar nebulous development.  It was about use of funds, fraud alleged, audit reports ignored and discarded, and an African Guyanese group left hanging by a fingernail, and with every intention that it is gutted and left swinging in the wind.  It is why I connect this parallel of “farcical umbrella of coop societies” to the precedent of IDPADA-G, and all that has followed since.  In now characteristic fashion, the Hon Labor Minister was steely in his resolve in doing what is nothing but the dirty jobs that are given to a certain kind of helpful citizen -the willing.  In the contemptuously dismissive nature of the PPP Government, this of the ‘One Guyana’ declarations, what came from the Labor Minister was “I have no apology to make.”  His President must be proudly cheering on the sidelines since it is a song straight out of his own songbook.

I am thinking of Mocha, then IDPADA-G, and now coops and idle lands (all involving primarily African Guyanese welfare), and there are some alarming questions that reasonably follow in the wash of those.  What next is contemplated by the PPP Government with African Guyanese interests in mind to be undermined?  Who and where, and under what tent, would another plank in the way of life of African Guyanese be selected and then first weakened, then extinguished?  There is a certain compelling, inarguable logic to these questions, as bolstered by the progression (or deterioration) of events in the last two and a half years.  They twist the knife, they rankle.  And though particularly so in the now widening harrowing experiences of African Guyanese, it doesn’t stop there.  At least, not for anyone with a conscience, with a mind unfettered by tribal distortions, with what is constructive and progressive for this country.