It was Burnham who started it

It was Burnham who started it

Dear Editor,

I believe that for Guyana to emerge from the racial divide, Burnham’s family and party (PNC) must apologize to the Guyanese population for his treachery in trying to take over the PPP. After he was unsuccessful in taking over, he split the PPP along racial lines.
“They must categorically say: This ends here and now.”
Many still blame the British for the racial divide in Guyana, which they attributed to the removal of the elected PPP government in 1953.
I, personally, do not agree that the British started racial problems in Guyana with their “divide and rule” policies.

Divide and rule policies has been used all over the world by the colonial powers, but the other places were able to overcome this because they did not have anyone like Burnham in their midst, who had such long tentacles of bigotry, racism, greed and selfishness.
It is clear that it was not the overthrow of the elected Government in 1953 that caused the racial divide; the racial divide was started by this one man – Forbes Burnham, who was a power hungry mole in the PPP by the name of Lascar.

Burnham preached race, and when he couldn’t win the leadership of the PPP, he left with mostly the black members. They formed the PNC and politics in Guyana has been race-based ever since.
It was also very clear that Burnham was the double agent, because why was he not arrested along with the other PPP top brass? If he was really that smart, he would have asked the British to arrest him too, so as not to blow his cover. Or perhaps, he wanted to thumb his nose in the faces of the Jagans’ and East Indians!

I cannot understand how the Jagans’ could not have figured out that Burnham was the mole.
The book, “British Guiana – Land of Six Peoples,” written by Michael Swan in 1955, describes Burnham and Jagan as follows: “I met both leaders of the PPP shortly after my arrival in Georgetown, during a period of crisis in the Party: LFS Burnham, the African leader of the Party, it is said, was making a bid to take over the moral leadership from Cheddi Jagan and his wife, Janet. Permission had been given to hold the annual congress of the party in a local cinema, and it was here that the Burnhamites would split from the Jaganites.”

“It was against this background that I visited Mr. Burnham and Dr. Jagan. Mr. Burnham is a leading Georgetown barrister, and I saw him in his chambers, a dilapidated wooden shack in the traditional manner of law offices in the town. He was a tall, handsome man of thirty-two, wearing gaberdine drapes and a bow-tie, with restless, tortured eyes set in strongly Coptic features. He received me with no attempt at cordiality, but as we talked, he relaxed and his antagonism began to melt.”

“Dr. Jagan is a successful dentist and, after I had been reading ‘Thunder’ for some time in his waiting room, he received me in his surgery. Honkytonk music came from the flat above as he flashed his celebrated smile at me from beneath a large coloured photograph of Stalin.
He is a good-looking man with a considerable charm of manner and a quickness of mind, almost a glibness, which is absent in the more tortuous Burnham.”

K. Rahman

Leave a Comment