I’ve known Mr. Ruel Johnson, local author and public figure, for about 15 years now. Our initial interaction stemmed from Ruel providing some critical reviews about the graphics on my website.
Naturally, I was not too pleased at the time, but in hindsight, I can say that his feedback was honest and objective, no personal vendetta included. In short, he was telling me as it is from his honest point of view so I could make the site better.
Johnson is often misunderstood as someone who likes to ‘skin-up’ people to achieve his own motives, but from personal experience over the years, I have found he is critical of any perceived wrongdoing, regardless of the nature. He does this not with the intention of tearing things down, but rather to make them better and fairer. He has no intention or interest in acceding to a presidential position, and since the announcement of our female presidential candidate, he has largely remained in the background, quietly doing the work necessary to build The Citizenship Initiative up. I say this to try and dispel any false notions about his grand intentions that have been circulated by his detractors.
Ruel has shared his critique of both the PPP and coalition APNU+AFC governments over the years, and the funny thing is when he was critical of the PPP, his peers who support the Coalition were loving it and sang his praises. Flip the script, and now that the shoe is on the other foot, suddenly Johnson is labeled as an upstart and written off as a bitter man who wants to push his own agenda.
As I got to know Ruel better, we became friends and I must admit that I was surprised at the friendship, given how our interactions started. When Ruel initially approached me to talk about forming a group that can seriously stand up to the excesses of the two political giants, I was already fed up of the PPP and Coalition after having supported them both.
From a conversation, to an idea to what it is today, The Citizenship Initiative took root and began to grow. Ruel’s simple honesty behind his motivations for proposing the group resonated with me and others, and here we are today, on the ballot for the next polls.
I am sharing these stories to try and dispel the dark clouds that have been painted over Johnson’s public image, as I want the public to understand his motivations. I have sat next to Ruel Johnson when he responds to those who attack his character while he was a contracted worker of the government, and he would literally sit with a copy of the Constitution in his hands while replying to them. He could have shut his mouth and continued to work for the government and enjoy his benefits, but instead, he chose to call it as it is and could no longer be a part of something that became the monster he once stood against.
The Citizenship Initiative represents all of its founding members’ conviction to put aside our personal comfort zones and step up to challenge the political unfairness and skewered policy in our country.
The Ruel Johnsons of history are the ones who are often unpopular in public opinion, but end up being the ones who force tangible change to happen for the better. Let’s not write off those who objectively seek to create an even playing field for all of us. Bringing about meaningful change is often hard, thankless work.
We started out with the intention to change the culture of political discourse in Guyana, and we welcome all Guyanese who want to help transform Guyana into a happy, peaceful and rewarding nation for all. Let’s not write off the messenger without taking in the message.
The Citizenship Initiative