OPINION: APNU’s Roysdale A. Forde owes President Ali an apology

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 August 2023, 6:52 by Denis Chabrol

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

The CARICOM Reparations Commission advanced the following Ten Point Reparation plan in 2014 –  Full formal apology; Indigenous peoples development programmes; funding for reparations to Africa; the establishment of cultural institutions and the return of cultural heritage; assistance in remedying the public health crisis; education programmes; the establishment of cultural and knowledge exchanges; psychological rehabilitation as a result of the transmission of trauma; the right to development through the use of technology; debt cancellation and monetary compensation.

You will notice that no Caribbean government is held responsible for the atrocities committed in the Caribbean. Guyana is emerging as the only one, an idea pushed by people like APNU member, Roysdale Forde. Incidentally, the document mentions Africans and Indigenous peoples but does not mention the injuries suffered by indentured servants.

While some Indians have protested this omission, no one to date, until now, has exploited the loophole to attack East Indians in the Caribbean. MP Roysdale Forde of Guyana has now broken new ground by referencing the Ten Point Plan in an attack on President Mohamed Irfaan Ali.

President Ali had released a detailed statement a day prior to the Gladstone family apology offered at the University of Guyana on Friday, August 25. The president stated the following “[the] apology offered by the descendants of John Gladstone underscores their willingness to confront their family’s dark past and to acknowledge the immense pain, suffering and indignities inflicted upon innocent persons through their family’s actions.”

He further “…called on those who were complicit in and who profited from the trade in captive Africans and African enslavement to offer just reparations.”

Roysdale Forde more than likely knew of the statement. Any responsible MP would have, and should have, read the statement. The statement deserves recognition because it is thoughtful, informed, and deftly constructed. But instead of Mr. Forde doing the honorable thing by acknowledging a moment of national unity viz a viz foreign domination, he opted to attack the president with uncommon brutality. He did so in the same way in which the extreme right-winger Vivek Ramaswamy accused Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) as part of the “modern KKK.” The far-right presidential contender also accused Ibram X Kendi, (a former colleague of this writer), of being part of the KKK as well.

Forde stated that “sadly in 21st century independent Guyana, the Ali government, in many ways, is not different from the colonial masters and enslavers” (Village Voice, 8/28/2023). At a minimum, this is ad hominem attack against a president who had just days before went as far as stating that John Gladstone and others culpable should be posthumously charged with crimes against humanity (Blackwell News, 8/25/2023).

Forde’s descent into ignominy is in many ways predictable. He, like many others in APNU and the AFC, uses every opportunity to racialize issues when there is not even an iota of connection. The APNU and the AFC have become race merchants. They link anything and everything to race, knowing fully and well that by so doing, they will get a sympathetic ear from the White West. It is ironic that while the Gladstone family apologized to the descendants of indentured servants, Forde, a Guyanese politician (a) substantively rejected that apology, and (b) turned around and accused those descendants of what the colonizers and slave holders did. This sickening idea has been mentioned in diverse ways by several university faculty members, the most notable one being from Arizona. He used the term slave catchers recently.

Fifty-one years ago, Indians were given ninety days to leave Uganda. Idi Amin’s argument was that Indians are doing too well. How sad it is that Roysdale Forde has dished out a similar salvo only this time going a step further, by accusing the only Muslim Head of State in the entire Western World, of being a slave enabler.

I must wonder if Roysdale Forde has the slightest inkling of how the very West that enslaved Africans, have treated Muslims and Asians over the past several hundred years. They too have a history of oppression, Mr. Forde. APNU’s Roysdale A. Forde owes President Ali an apology.

Dr. Randolph Persaud is an Adviser, Office of the President, Guyana.