I am writing about the current political stand-off in my beloved country Guyana. As an elder who saw the country torn apart by violence in the 1960s I fear that we are on a path back to the future. I offer my perspective as the former publisher and CEO of the Guyana Graphic the largest newspaper in Guyana during the tumultuous period before it was taken over by the Burnham Government in 1974. I am someone who contributed to my country as an actor and playwright including the play “Guyana Legend” which was the official theatrical cultural presentation at Guyana’s Independence celebrations in 1966.
Last week, the Working People’s Alliance, a member of Guyana’s coalition government, and political commentator and academician, Mr. Dhanpaul Narine, expressed grave concern over the health of Guyana’s democracy and called for a shared governance model to avoid severe consequences in the racially polarized country.
These represent the first thoughts from anyone to help solve the political impasse in Guyana. It is patently clear that neither of the two political entities can effectively govern Guyana without the involvement of the other.
We need to remember that Guyana was built on the blood, sweat and tears of an enslaved people who had their cultural identity, religious beliefs and their very children torn from them.
Those who came after them, owe them a debt which they must never forget.
The descendants of these slaves and their mixed-blood descendants still suffer today from the insecurities which this loss of identity inculcated and which has resulted in our crippling incapacity to help each other and any others.
Those indentured servants who came after slavery was abolished had the luxury of retaining their cultural identity, their religious beliefs and their ability to make and keep their families, thus building a sense of community which the slaves and their descendants never had. Our indentured brothers and sisters had the luxury of knowing who they are and thus how to help each other.
If Guyana is to survive and prosper then we have to accommodate these two realities and accept that neither one nor the other identity can prosper without the involvement of the other.
Shared governance – as Mr. Narine had suggested – is the only way to start this process. It will be fraught with difficulties, but the alternative is infinitely worse. As my old grandmother used to say, “THERE IS BAD… AND WORSER THAN BAD”. We have no option but to choose the former.
Constitution reform is essential, and must include under the PR system, the right of constituents to choose their own to represent their constituency in elections. A new constitution must also include, the right of parties to form coalitions AFTER elections.
I am hoping, to provoke further positive comments to assist Guyana in solving its problems.
Otherwise, I fear, that the road to El Dorado will lead us to the gates of this fabled country with riches untold but we will spend the time destroying each other in order to climb the walls to be first inside, instead of working together to break the gates so that we can all enter together and benefit from the riches therein. I hope that this falls on fertile ears, especially young Guyanese.
Former GM of Guyana Graphic