I have no ethnic allegiances, Mr Ellis

Stabroek News
June 24, 2001

Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr. Clarence Ellis' letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] captioned "This political process is taking us into deeper primitivism (2l.6.200l). I will prove to readers that many of the overseas?based Guyanese like Mr. Ellis do not know what is going on in Guyana. One can put it strongly and say they haven't a clue as to what takes place here.

The second point in my letter is to state that people like Mr. Ellis, after reading the things they say, are part of the problem even though they set out to be part of the solution. After seeing his letter on me, I am convinced that Mr. Ellis cannot offer a constructive blueprint for bringing about national reconciliation. And for one simple reason; he's part of the divisive turf.

Mr. Ellis exclaims that I have not mentioned Rickey Singh as part of the expatriate Guyanese who write from afar on Guyanese affairs. Twice I have done that in my weekly column for the Kaieteur News. I quote at length from one of my columns for Ellis's enlightenment. In a column entitled, " Incredible, Impossible, But True," for March 3?9, 2000, I wrote: " The Sunday Chronicle has two writers who live abroad but write on Guyana from far away... can the Chronicle afford to pay people to write on Guyana who do not live in Guyana ... so where do these people get their facts from? From us here in Guyana, who live in Guyana and write about Guyana from Guyana... so these men talk to no one in Guyana, do not have access to the key players in Guyana, are not here to see the stories unfolding in Guyana, yet write about people, places and events in Guyana... so where were these people when we had the PSU strike, the Blackie drama, the Revenue Authority story etc."

I hope the editor permits me in his newspaper to inform Mr. Ellis that Kaieteur News has a healthy circulation in Guyana, a web page and a New York edition.

In making his accusation, Mr. Ellis said something that is nasty, insidious, invidious and comes close to being obnoxious. I think human decency demands that he offers me an immediate apology. And I am calling on David (Hinds) to extract such an apology from him. He said the absence from me of any criticism of Rickey Singh shows group solidarity behaviour. What appalling nonsense! For your information Mr. Ellis, I have solidarity with one group, and one group only in Guyana, and that is the Guyanese people. I am East Indian in looks only; it begins and ends there. Your statement shows the Freudian skeletons you have in your psychic cupboard. That is why I say people like you are part of the problem rather than the solution. It is this type of deeply carved freudianism in people like Mr. Ellis that will push this country further into the abyss. You wonder what people like Mr. Ellis have learned from all the years they have been associated with the theory and practice of Burnhamism.

Let me give you an eye ?opener Mr. Ellis. In November, 1995, I saw an African youth literally drowning off the Kingston jetty in the Atlantic Ocean. I jumped in to save him, and was literally minutes away from death. This drama was featured as a news item in the Stabroek of Tuesday, October 17, 1995. I lived through the American invasion of Grenada, and survived a political attempt on my life at UG as a student in 1976, but the closest I came to death was trying to save that guy. How dare you tell me about group solidarity. Which group do I show solidarity with? I have extremely close and warm friends from different ethnic groups. And for your education, Mr. Ellis, I have African in?laws, nieces and nephews. And was politically proteged by great African Guyanese personalities like Brian Rodway of the WPA and EMG Wilson of the PPP.

I resent you telling me about group solidarity. You stated in your letter to me that you are passionately African. Well, good for you. I don't think there is anything the Indians and Africans have done in this country for us to be passionate about them. But if you feel that way that is your right even though that right may be premised on unworkable concepts but don't judge other people using your questionable yardstick. I would point out to you given the ethnic mix of my relatives and friends, given the types of philosophy books I have been reading since I was sixteen, and given the type of academic education I have had, I cannot see myself belonging to an organisation whose name includes an ethnic term. I was a founding member of a great multi?racial movement in this country, the WPA. How anyone could have been associated with that piece of historical greatness and now could be blatantly associated with ethnic chauvinism is a curse for which Guyanese history will never forgive them.

I will conclude by exposing some of the most banal non?starters in the rest of the letter. Which human being rejects the commonsensical acceptance of bridging inhabited territories divided by a great expanse of water. When there was a ferry tragedy, the British and French joined their two countries by an underwater railway. Surinam just linked two parts of its territory with a beautiful engineering structure. And now Sweden and Denmark are joined by a bridge. The Century 21 plan of the Reform wing of the PNC includes bridging the Essequibo river to link Leguan and Wakenam.

Secondly, seeing that you write on Guyana from abroad, you seek to justify what cannot be justified. Again, I mean no insult but it is commonsensical that in order to make theoretical formulations about, give critical analysis of, and offer policy prescriptions for a country, you have to live in it and study it. There is absolutely no alternative. That is why the world spends billions of dollars in keeping diplomats and journalists stationed all over the world. In fact, Mr. Ellis, if you read the Jessop column in this newspaper and if you know the views of the editor of this newspaper, then you would know we need a man in Brussels right away. Please don't think that the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Trade and Foreign Affairs through the internet can access what is going on in the EU.

I close by repeating for Mr. Ellis' benefit what I said in a previous analysis --- in the discipline of the comparative study of societies, there is no such thing as internet analysis. And this goes for my respected friend David Hinds, people like Festus Brotherson and, you Mr. Ellis, and yes Mr. Ellis, Rickey Singh too. I await your apology.

Yours faithfully,
Frederick Kissoon