Guyanese on the march Frankly Speaking
By A.A. Fenty
Stabroek News
March 19, 2004

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Ho-hum, here I go again, craving your tolerance as my issue-fatigued saturation level leads me to treat "serious" matters lightly. I can be accused of being flippant about important questions of national significance.

But just what is "national"? What qualifies an issue or event to be described as "national"? When it is representative or a reflection of the whole nation? And who says we - as a disjointed, often contentious society - are a nation?

Ah yes. There I go. But cogitate on just a few concepts with me, if even as an exercise in definitions and exploration of the power of propaganda, as well as examination of mass mobilisation as political technique, disguised as "the people's spontaneous actions".

Let's take tomorrow's rule-of-law march in the capital - good, old, stinking disorderly Georgetown. Of course, the organisers have articulated the reason for and objectives of the three-route march and rally. The opposition-inspired leaders of the exercise are manifesting their rights to assembly, to freedom of speech and to demonstrate and protest within the guide-lines of the law. But we may return to the purpose of the march later.

My point really is to have you consider seriously what is really meant by the expression "Guyanese", as in the context of "Guyanese are marching against this, or marching for that" you know the line - from both opposition, Government or whichever group claims to be organising for and behalf of "the people": "The Guyanese people ... blah-blah-blah-blah". In this case tomorrow, the march is one activity "to focus attention on the breakdown of the rule of law and the serious consequences for the citizens of the country." (There we go again: "the citizens of the country...")

Which citizens? Which Guyanese? Indeed and in fact there are various "categories" of legal Guyanese citizens - all persons born within the borders, those "naturalised" under certain legal citizenship conditions, whether born a Chinese national or a Nigerian native. (Just as there are thousands and thousands of Guyanese-born paper-citizens of other states.) Frankly speaking, leaders or would-be leaders always generalise when particular groups participate in an exercise willingly, or are influenced or forced to be part of an event. "Guyanese" citizens march, demonstrate, protest and demand indeed. They were born here or have otherwise fulfilled conditions to be citizens. But frequently they are not at all representative of all Guyanese! Often they are not even a majority. They may be many but not a majority.

For example which Guyanese will march tomorrow to demand on behalf of their cause(s) as outlined by the organisers? Wait and see; observe and record. Even as you are impressed by the large turn-out, check for some of the following Guyanese: Amerindians, Chinese, Portuguese, youths 16 to 20, residents of Canal Number One and, say, sugar workers from Albion. Remember now - they are Guyanese too. However, I do concede, thousands of Guyanese will be on the march.

And I am impressed by the "March Committee" co-sponsors' preparations. I'm told that an initiative came from the Guyana Trades Union Congress at a City Hall meeting on March 9 last. Great stuff, that initiative.

I'm big enough to ignore the fact that even that trades union body is short of powerful Guyanese unions like GAWU and some bauxite/mining unions and I'm impressed and assured by the People's Nationa

On Lara and Sarwan

l Congress/Reform co-sponsor that marshals will be in place during the three-route march to prevent alleged pro-PPP/government mischief-makers and criminal elements from infiltrating the demonstration to disrupt, steal or beat innocent marchers, by-standers or business places. Great stuff! Whether "spontaneous" or organised, this start to the street season will be an event to experience. May your God(s) Bless Guyana.

No, I'm not qualified to pronounce in any profound cricketing manner, on the abilities, records, achievements or short-comings of the two West Indian cricketers mentioned above.

Any my friends and fans of this column would know that (perhaps strangely - and for some reason) I'm not a die-hard West Indian cricket supporter. Over the years. I suspect that is why my own psyche does not allow me to become overly emotional about the various aspects of cricket - like scores of my buddies, Guyanese and West Indian cricket fans. I do however understand the reactions of the die-hards to their team and game. To what cricket means to them; to their image and pride.

So the responses to the all-time Test low of forty-seven were expected and understandable. But even as an "outsider", I still ask: why do the fans find it so easy, so convenient to crucify captain Lara whenever there is substantial loss? I appreciate his personal short-comings as a leader but was not the genius Sobers similar? They lead from the front. When Lara and say, Chanderpaul don't score, what happens? Are not the faults more systemic?

On Alan's post-mortem Sunday night "Beyond the boundary" I heard an interesting point made by a bitter caller relative to Sarwan's motivation and commitment. It went like this: in the old (glory) days the management team would fire up West Indian teams, against England, by reminding them that the English (cricketers) were representatives of those dreaded (evil) colonisers. The Sobers, Fredericks, Halls, Richards et al would be extra-motivated to do victorious violence against the oppressors' descendants, I'm told. Not

Things as they are...

so Sarwan (allegedly) the other day. The caller-or panellist(?) chided him for describing that first test as "just another Test Match".

Well, I submit that though the young vice-captain is not as yet matured or articulate as Ian Bishop or Daren Ganga, he has shown sterling gutsy commitment. Like his compatriot Chanderpaul, he has returned from hospital and also from being concussed just recently to bat heroically for his team.

I know crushing defeats make West Indians examine individuals, but I suggest that they check the fundamentals more: preparation, psychology, coaching and management, for example.

1) The front pages of the dailies tell me that Georgetown - blighted as it already is, seems to be vying to become a murder capital of the Region.

2) Stabroek on fraud in high places: "In a country awash with donor funding and throbbing with massive public sector infrastructural projects, the Jagdeo administration has to ask itself whether it is doing enough to safeguard public funds and whether its central government monitoring mechanism needs to be bolstered...

"Given the weakening it has experienced across the board, questions will also arise as to the capacity of the police force to fully investigate and prosecute economic/white-collar crimes. To ensure the maximum result from this investigation the police force - if it deems this necessary - should obtain the services of an expert and consideration should be given to the appointment of a special prosecutor to shepherd the cases that will arise."

I agree and concur. It won't hurt to implement the latter suggestion, Mr President.

3) Look for upcoming contention as GECOM's Surujbally grapples with his computers' Electoral Data base.

3b) Coming next week: Gajraj lets the PNC off!

4) How is Mia Rahaman doing these days? Would my accused daughter or sister be doing as well?

5) I might be the lucky one: no die-hard, just liking good cricket

'Til next week!