African Guyanese are in disarray, special measures suggested

Stabroek News
August 1, 2001

Dear Editor,

I wish to join my fellow African Guyanese in celebrating yet another Emancipation anniversary. We do so this year in a state of despair. The African Guyanese community is bleeding from historical wounds inflicted from both outside and inside our community. Our young people in particular are feeling the pinch and they are reacting negatively. Crime, drug abuse, domestic violence, disease and illiteracy are the consequences of decades of political and economic marginalisation and their attendant poverty and powerlessness.

African today own no wealth, have little control of their labour power, are locked out of the rooms of government, and have no control over their ancestral space in Guyana. The villages, direct and noble products of our emancipation, have been taken away from us.

In the circumstance we have hit out in frustration and anger, but in the process we have been transformed and in some regards have transformed ourselves from victim to aggressors. Why? Because something went wrong. In my humble opinion we Africans allowed ourselves to target the wrong reason for our problems. We targeted Indians rather than the Indian led government. The Indian masses are as victimised by the system as we are, even if they do not complain and in some instances condone it. But more than that we failed to target the internal reasons for our problems. Because of that our cause has not been greatly advanced. External forces are strengthened and emboldened when internal forces are in disarray and confused. Africans are not a confused people, but sometimes we have acted very confused over the years.

Now we must start acting sensibly both individually and collectively.

In this regard I urge the following as an immediate line of march:
(a) ACDA or some other African organisation convenes an emergency meeting of all African-Guyanese organisations.
(b) We declare a state of emergency in the African-Guyanese community.
(c) We mobilise all our skills and talents and leaderships and dispatch them to the communities for an initial conversation with our people to determine the extent of their sufferings and solicit their own proposals for corrective measures.
(d) In the meantime, we immediately launch a countrywide literacy programme, mainly reading and writing, utilising volunteer teachers.
(e) We immediately launch a health education programme, targeting HIV/AIDS and drug abuse.
(f) We immediately launch a campaign aimed at sensitizing African Guyanese to African and African Guyanese culture and achievements using the media of lectures, drama, and other artistic forms.

Yours faithfully,
David Hinds