'Indian' existence, 'Indian' survival?
By A.A. Fenty
May 11, 2001
"Ridiculous Fenty!" I appreciate that this might be the reaction of both my former and current friends to today's caption, topic and theme.
But as ridiculous, emotive, provocative or far-fetched as the hypothesis might seem to some, it is a strongly-held theory by quite intelligent persons in this society who are descended from East Indian fore-parent immigrants from the Sub-Continent.
I choose to reflect, to touch ever so slightly on these views for two reasons primarily - despite my own personal identity dilemma. One has to do with the relatively newly fashioned People's National Congress (PNC) tactic of crying and using "marginalisation" of Afro-Guyanese to wring concessions out of the shaky administration; (hand in hand with this rallying cry, of course, has come the sporadic, intermittent menace of destabilising violence against one section of the community). Secondly, I hate to admit that I'm being gradually persuaded by the position of Ravi Dev, and a new acquaintance, that the Indo-Guyanese community, as we know it, is under threat and can disappear in two decades!
OK I'm guessing at some reactions of outrage at the above. Coming from both sides of the political divide. Especially as it is I who choose to repeat these views. But if the debate is of an acceptably high level, more dispassionate than emotional, and backed by evidence, it can only benefit this society. We must let a thousand thoughts contend anyhow. Hoping that those thoughts don't provoke what we are seeing and experiencing these days. Through this column and perhaps on the resumed television programme "Candid Conversations", I'll contribute to the useful debate.
For starters, I ask you to consider objectively the use by opposition elements of the politics of fear and intimidation, hand in hand with the intellectualising of both justified and false premises. Which group will suffer most, both materially and physically? Yes we'll soon explore all the elements of this question: "Indian" vulnerability; "Indian" options, including migration ("the borders of Guyana have long shifted", the man said); the PPP being scared of protecting one constituency to the detriment of its own political longevity; African Guyanese claims of marginalisation vis-à-vis real marginalisation of Indo-Guyanese for decades. The debate can be rich.
Politically, I'm told, the PNC might even succeed in convincing the international community that "Indian" governments - as in Fiji, Trinidad and Guyana - with economic power as well, inevitably lead to the domination and oppression of all other "subjects". All great stuff when I return to all this.
That will include the genesis and nature of the alleged or structured peripheralisation of the coolie immigrants through to Indian Guyanese citizens. And guess what? I'll be quoting from 1924, from Forbes Burnham and Professor Ken Danns to support the thesis of deliberate marginalisation of Indian-descended people. Stayed tuned. Even as you pretend to be amazed at this perspective.
Be calm, be brutalised
Hell of a thing isn't it? The correct advice to give to victims and perpetrators alike, in an explosive situation is to "stay calm, remain calm, be calm". Naturally, the badly beaten and mentally traumatised have to remain so. They can't lift a finger of protest or defence in that state.
Frankly Speaking, the words "calm", "reconciliation", "we-are-all-Guyanese", "dialogue" and even "justice" - as used conveniently by some interest - groups, are now demeaned and prostituted. I wish and hope to avoid them.
Gradually but unquestionably, it is unfolding that one of the pillars of the strategy of opposition elements is to utilise intermittent ethnic-specific violence against real and perceived opponents. Fear will be the key. They have everything to lose - we have little or nothing is the street-politics rationale. Dialogue, Burn, Beat and Rob. You don't have to actually hold the leash of the dogs of war yourself. After all, there are the "disenfranchised, the marginalised" and plain good old bandits to do your work in the environment created.
Never-the-less, as a people are brutalised and butchered, it remains the responsible duty of both police and President to advise the wounded victims or survivors to "be calm". One section of the society, the physically beaten and the vanquished must keep the peace.
Will that work? Can that last?
A bullet for a boy
Whether eight, nine or double figures, Mervyn Barran could have been the son I never had. He could have been your Under-12 boy-child. He was cut down with bullets to his little head. Brain spattered. Life ended. Killer successful.
Whatever the motive; whoever the murderers, my argument is that the political season of ambush, hostage-taking, arson, robbery and murder has set the scene - even for child-killers.
My own human frailty, my social short-comings will prevent me from even socialising at a distance with those whose actions were responsible, however indirectly, for the deaths being caused now. Perhaps, fewer friends would be a good thing. These days.
The boy who took the assassins' bullet, Mervyn, can only rest in peace. At his age.
My own "dialogue"
1) Along Croal Street in Georgetown one experiences a microcosm of the good, the bad, the ugly of our society. Especially the ugly. I don't mean the lawyers chambers or the magistrates' courts. Nor the stagnant canals.
Perhaps the young Guyanese at the kerbs and junctions. With school bags, knives and daggers in their waists. Perhaps speeding mini-buses with uncouth operatives. We'll develop this later.
2) I've been advised to delay the item on "the protesters' handbook", - Notes on Urban Guerrilla Political Warfare for a while.
3) Poor Manzoor. They're battering him for declaring that they are deciding for him, in which camp he must reside.
4) What is our police learning from all this?
5) Governing from the opposition leader's headquarters?
6) Old-timers! What did Mr Hoyte say of Mr Miles Fitzpatrick some years ago?
7) Is it true? Longer established funeral parlours are accusing a newcomer of "killing the industry dead".
`Til next week!