Saturday evening with Comrade Corbin
By A.A Fenty
January 31, 2003
I could only ask you, fans and foes alike, to believe me. But my piece, “Working with Comrade Corbin”, two Fridays ago, drew mighty interesting reviews - and significant “recognition.”
So, as promised last week, I return with a ray of hope, furtive expectations and many dreams to the subject of Robert Herman Orlando Corbin.
Funny, the two major reactions to the last piece was generally, that (1) Corbin will be elected People’s National Congress leader tomorrow and (2) though he has a wonderful opportunity to make a personal, even unprecedented political contribution to the healing and resurgence of this society, either he, himself, or his “leadership team” will not allow R.H.O. Corbin to be different and therefore make a difference to the political culture of confrontation, contention and stagnation that has reduced this fine land to a society of relative hopelessness and a producer of minds and muscle for export through any type of migration.
This is why I am left to dream hopeful dreams of promise and political desirables today. On behalf of so many thousands of beaten and bewildered Guyanese citizens. So let me share what I predict will happen tomorrow evening at the Square of the Revolution in Georgetown; as well as what I hope would occur as Robert Corbin is “inaugurated” on tomorrow’s Saturday evening with the new leader. Here goes.
Naturally I expect Comrade R.H.O will be elected unopposed, as the PNC demonstrates “party unity” as an expedient to overshadow any simmering problems within its body politic or with personalities or policies. Aubrey Norton’s resurgent mobilisation skills, from walk-abouts to television campaign-like ads, will guarantee the usual after-congress, mass rally “massive” attendance on the Yoruba Singers-inspired evening. But what will the faithful and the curious hear, after Bunny and Charmaine and the mash Soca tunes?
Well, my predictions and hope lead me to feel that Comrade Corbin will thank his members and followers for electing him in the spirit of strong party unity and purpose. He will pay maximum tribute to the departed Desmond Hoyte, with all the now usual highest praise, tribute and glory. Also the usual, normal cuss-out of the government and its policies and programmes should be an expected staple on Saturday evening.
But will Corbin stamp his personal imprimatur on the “Leadership Team” right away? Oh dear me, I trust he eschews his late leader’s style, which include “Kith-and-Kin”, “Ungovernable” “Slow-fire” considerations. Let’s listen for his own brand of Statesmanship - the signal arrival of an open-minded new leader who wishes to shed his old known clothes and baggage. One who intends to reach out. To the thousands who support parties other than his own. To the women and the youth. To the business sector. To the international community.
Do all this my old boss. Make a mark! Confound your critics. Shed your old persona of a political Engineer and mere party product or creature. Give hope to a nation now bloodied and battered by events and personalities with which and whom you are familiar. Introduce two Buxtonians on your podium of peace - under “Cuffy’s” gaze - who will denounce the criminality obviously extant in their community.
Tell us of your Party’s own initiative against the murderous criminality; of what compromises you can make to pressure the government to share Parliament and, perhaps, power with your people; of your party’s plan to take your younger supporters off the streets of protest and into educational and economic activities generated by your 48-year-old party. In a word, Give Guyana Hope, Mr Corbin! Upstage your opponents. Place the ball in the Government’s Court. (Do even some of this and I shall dismiss, reluctantly, from my mind all the things I was fed with regarding your party’s alleged role in certain sordid developments of these past months. Assure “your” police and military constituencies.)
Spare the smear...
Hardened as I was - or am - in the execution of propaganda, Public Relations and political “Campaigns”, I suspect that Robert Corbin’s implacable enemies and opponents might unleash a barrage of Dirty Tricks smear attacks against his perceived character weaknesses.
Some of these folks with such tendencies have a certain level of justification for this. They have evidence of his denial of their ultimate rights; of his Party’s brutal actions against their own people. But I caution against this. In the spirit of necessary compromise and conciliation, I trust that his foes will give him just a chance. I’ve seen certain letters already, but this is a period for even temporary grace.
We need no more hate and recrimination at the political level right now. For the criminal monster created has taken its toll. Our people are battle-weary and scared. So, campaigners, spare the smear. I beseech you.
On robberies and race
So sensitive is this issue - and so restrained and conservative, and scared, have I become - that I’ll hold over full presentation once again.
How horrified are we weekly, to witness the wanton savagery of the killer bandits as they brutalise and traumatise the old, the young, and the infirm. And whilst there is no seemingly overt objective to be singularly racial in robbery and rape, the images are being seared into some minds and psyches! Yes, there are bad fellows in all groups, but...
Perhaps I’ll return to this next week.
1) Weigh the circumstances. The arguments: Is the barricade between Buxton and others not justified? Depends on your perspective. Were you ever terrorised?
2) Quite expected? The fall-out from the remarks of a frustrated Head of State as he publicly expressed (the people’s) disappointment with the Army’s role in crime-fighting so far. (Local TV’s Idi Amin and his colleagues drove huge “wedges” between!)
3) I’ll be using my own TV facility to explore the giant neighbour to our south: Brazil. Watch and taste the cook-up show.
4) Do you realise that in this year, we’ll be subject to all sorts of “trees” in 2003?
5) See you at the square tomorrow evening? Safe and secure for me to go? Or should I subject myself to 26 Calypsonians?
‘Til next week!
Ten years with you!
I mentioned it one year ago: This column represents the primary discipline in my relatively uneventful life at this stage.
Whether attempting profound comment or bordering on levity or the trivial, Frankly Speaking has been with you for one decade, yes, today marks ten years of this feature - missing only two Fridays because of the 1999 strike - which has generated its owned sustained readership.
Regular fans would have discerned my favourite topics. I thank you all for indicating your appreciation. Remember, I seek not to be popular. Just to provoke constructive thought as my views are shared.
Bring out the brass bands and the dancing girls - when it is safe to do so. Today is thus doubly significant for me! Keep reading.