There are two Guyanas, the real and the fictitious
May 2, 2002
Letters on despair
There are at least two Guyanas-the real Guyana and the fictitious Guyana. To begin with, Guyana is not a finished or formed nation. It is a nation-state without a nation. This is one of the reasons that the state has always been out of control. Rather than fashioning a nation that would serve as the basis of a modern state, the two pre-nations compete for the state. And the one that gets control of it uses it as a weapon of patronage, defense and witch hunting. Control of the state in Guyana is the political end game whose casualties include popular empowerment, economic and political democratization, the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind, and reasoned conversation-all building blocks of nationhood. This is the concrete Guyana.
But our political leaders, in the process of mobilizing their followers, end up believing the concocted stories they call campaigns. Lies become truth. Reality becomes what Stabroek News calls unreality. Two Guyanas evolve-the concrete Guyana and the make-believe Guyana. The tragedy is that the two do not converge; in fact the gap between them widens by the day.
Guyana's political culture assumes that an Indian or African government is a multi-racial government that can and should rule without humbug. It assumes that the state is a monster when the other party controls it, but it is automatically transformed into a paragon of virtue once it changes hands. It assumes that democracy comes only from fairly or unfairly winning an election. Political practice, governance and opposition- in Guyana is a construction that is far removed from the real Guyana.
This fictitious Guyana becomes the dominant force in the society. It informs the popular sentiment. The masses of people are either trapped, or trap themselves; we begin to see with eyes of the politicians, hear with ears of the politicians, and think with the minds of the politicians. Its quite legitimate for one to support any political party one chooses, but it's another thing to surrender to unreason.
How else do we explain the following? African people believe their problems began in 1992. Indians believe Africans are not marginalized. Africans believe the Black Clothes are their enemies. Indians believe the Black Clothes are their protectors. Africans believe that Indians will either migrate or some will join the PNC to help it get back to power. Indians believe that the PPP is the greatest government since creation and should not be removed.
We argue over who attended which funeral. With all due respect for the organizers, participants, and lovers of beauty contests, something is not quite right when the controversy over who won a contest becomes intense national dialogue, while the DPP's discontinuation of Kwayana's private murder charge in a naked state murder, does not excite even a whimper. Mind you, only last week thousands marched in protest against this killing. But the problem is that Kwayana's action attempts to bring us back in touch with the real Guyana.