The road to Avernus
August 13, 2004
A LETTER appearing in this paper yesterday, tantalisingly captioned `No panties’, highlighted the playing of raunchy music videos in mini-buses.
In the letter, the writer recalls an instance where he travelled in a mini-bus in which he got more full frontal nudity than he bargained for via an onboard DVD player.
This unfortunately is simply the tip of the iceberg. If one gets to look at the bigger picture, it is simply another gruesome head of the hydra that is Guyana's - especially Georgetown's – mini-bus subculture.
The graphic sexual simulations or nudity portrayed in the music videos shown in the mini-buses pale in comparison to what actually goes on among the often school-age passengers with the compliance and participation of the drivers and conductors.
Many of the most popular buses - largely those plying Routes 40, 45 and 41 but including some on Route 44 - are often transformed, at different times during the day or night, into mobile bordellos.
Alcohol and marijuana flow freely while young people, some of the girls barely into puberty, engage in unsafe sex, in transit so to speak.
And then there is of course the skinny-dipping and orgiastic expeditions to various secluded creeks along the Soesdyke-Linden Highway.
Throw some illegal guns into the mix and you have a very sketchy picture of what takes place in Mini-bus Land.
And while all this may sound like some nightmare American director Larry Clark (Kids and Bully) dreamed up, ladies and gentlemen it is here and it is real.
A few years ago, the story of a girl found on the seawall with her mini-bus driver lover, as was reported in the news last month, would have been met with some amount of shock.
Not so today.
The mini-bus culture has become a part of our own subculture, just as widespread prostitution and drug addiction have.
The horrific part of it is that more than any other of our decadent subcultures, it is the nation's young, Guyana's supposed future, who almost exclusively inhabit it.
There are several reasons why the mini-bus culture has persisted, surviving even the ban on tinted auto windows.
For one, there has been no viable alternative to supplying our public transportation needs. Another thing is that fact that our social services are ill-equipped to handle this phenomenon.
One may posit that the police can play an effective role but the stark reality is that many of the mini-buses are owned by high-ranking police officials, who are either ignorant of the problem or are lenient at the very least in dealing with it.
The main reason, however, may be that parents, even the ones who really care about what activities their children are occupied with, often view the mini-bus culture in abstraction.
It is always someone else's son who is drinking a beer or smoking a joint on a mini-bus; it is always someone else's daughter who is lured into promiscuous acts with the driver, and/or the conductor, and/or any of the male riders; it is always someone else's child who is skipping classes to go 'touring'.
Guyanese parents need to tackle the mini-bus culture head on; talk frankly to their children; petition Parliament; engage the mini-bus owners, individually or through the association; do anything but continue being complacent.
As the poet Virgil informs us, the descent into Avernus (Hell) is easy; it is to make your way back up from there, that is the toil, that is the hardship.
Guyana's mini-bus culture is already more than halfway there.