Let the healing phase begin

Cassandra's Candid Corner
Stabroek News
March 25, 2001

So the elections are over. Or are they? In any case I know you are anxious to hear my earth-shattering views, and who am I not to accommodate you. Sorry, though, there is nothing novel that I can say, that has not been said ad nauseam. Or perhaps not. Let's see if we can find new "issues" about the pre-, peri- and post-elections period that have not been ventilated as yet.

Well, for starters, the GECOM has to establish a reliable and respectable pool of officers from which it can extract staff when elections time comes around. I resent the disruption in our society (no, I'm not talking about Buxtonians)! Key personnel in ministries get siphoned off to do duty at various levels of GECOM's activities. Worse, is when they take our teachers. That is extreme dotishness. Already we have a great paucity of teachers in our schools (primary and secondary). How dare you extract these important tiles in the mosaic of nation building for such long periods - for it must be remembered that elections mean week-long training of officials.

Then, there is the matter of fear. Markets close down. Schools close down and exams are postponed. Ministries, the services of which the citizenry needs on an everyday basis shuts their doors. And, horrors of horrors, the pubs close down. Last week Wednesday night some WPA sympathizers and I toured this town trying to get some refreshment: Sidewalk Cafe closed. Well, we know the most reliable watering hole is Palm Court, which only shuts its doors on one day each year - Good Friday. Not so on the twenty-oneth. Gates shuts tighter than a Gordian knot. Broken-hearted and dessicated, we meandered to an international hotel in Main street. Bar closed - last call for drinks was 10 o'clock. I thought I was in Salt Lake City or the Vatican. But then the maningger reopened a room, kept serving staff and rehydrated and undepressed us. Thank you, kind Sir. Unfortunately, my female companion fell asleep; the journalist from the world famous weekly Economist magazine complained about past service; a particularly handsome newsman from the New Nation ranted and raved about an ID card that was found in the garbage heap; and Rambo left without paying the bill.

Hell, I went off on a tangent. But the important thing to garner from the above is that elections in Guyana do not solve problems, they create them. People that live and lime together for four years and eleven months (in this case three years and a couple months) suddenly become bitchy and bellicose. Luckily, in the post elections period, notwithstanding the TV generated hate, the comrades gather and evade discussions on the recent past, even if they view each other with a bit more suspicion than before. In any case, with few exceptions, everyone knows which camp his beer-buddy supports. After all, the final figures make it quite clear.

Speaking of the TV acid brew, two wise men, from one of the many monitoring teams, explained to me that one of the indefatigable, malignant, bile-filled demagogues is compelled not only to do what he does (nature of the beast), but in order to stay in business, must daily escalate the rhetoric and venom by word and physiognomy and possibly deed. Will he self-destruct? Would the public bear the responsibility for the demise of a fellow Guyanese, who is catering to its demands for upping the ante. How many fans will stick it out with him through the obvious depression that is to follow? Who will pay his fees and the possible fines for the countless lawsuits? It makes me very sad. A responsible government or Minister of Health should have intervened ages ago and issued the straitjacket (actually they come in extra-large sizes as well) prophylactically, so that such influential TV personalities and citizens of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana do not explode or implode thus injuring themselves irreparably.

On the same theme, we the viewers exhibit a fixation with the macabre. We could switch the channels away from the acrimony. But no, the national psychology loves a bacchanal. We enjoy the slander (as long as it is not directed at us). Look, some people actually get ill and succumb to various levels of depression, yet they remain in a mummy-like rigor mortis in front of the TV screens, absorbing the acid and sometimes believing the bile. I am telling you that this nation is psychologically traumatized and doesn't know it. We have become fatalistic, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always on tenterhooks relative to the serving of writs, exposition of voting irregularities/imperfections/fraud, and the display of violence (or voyolence as pronounced by practically all newscasters, - not you Tommy - TV personalities, and guests on TV and radio shows) and burning and looting. We'd better find a cure, because it can become permanently and indelibly interwoven in the fabric of our national psyche. Fatalism is another word for defeatism, for not giving a damn about anything, for being unproductive, for protecting ourselves form the terror of responsibility.

My final post-elections thought (for this week): Prior to the elections, adrenalin was cursing through the vessels and party ebullience was at its zenith with posters and placards and huge billboards mushrooming everywhere. Well, like mushrooms they have wilted and are not just garbage and debris. Please clean up the mess with which you have defaced my most beautiful city with the same alacrity with which you erected the signs. This includes GECOM and the big billboards which you constructed at the T-junction at the Harbour Bridge's West Demerara exit, which totally obscures visibility of on-coming traffic from the left.

The period of mudslinging and promises have ended and a new government must address the mammoth challenge of nation building. Let the healing phase begin as we strive for a better Guyana over the next five years.