For an administration whose leader, David Granger — not so coincidentally, also leader of the PNC — has vowed to complete the legacy of Forbes Burnham, their “founder leader”, the commemoration of his death was pretty low-keyed. A few members of the National Congress of Women (NCW), the women’s arm of the PNC, laid wreaths at his bust at Kitty, and gave Basil Williams a squeeze-in!
Even the Chronic didn’t report on the ceremony! What’s up? The PNC big-wigs were all worn out after their emancipation soirees? Last year, since the commemoration was state-funded and it was announced this largess would be extended to the death anniversary of all previous presidents annually, the event should’ve been even bigger. Was it because the state didn’t bother to fund President Jagan’s death anniversary commemoration over at Babu Jaan in March that the PNC passed up on Burnham’s??
But whatever your views on the man, Burnham certainly had an impact on Guyana, and his death anniversary should be cause for reflection. Your Eyewitness could only find a report of the NCW’s commemoration in the Times newspaper – and he wonders if the report was based on a press release from the PNC ladies. After all, it mentioned that “He (Burnham) won re-election in 1968, 1973, and 1978, although his critics accused him of fixing the elections.”!!
His CRITICS accused him of fixing the elections?!! What about EVERY team of international observers!! Not to mention England’s Granada TV showing the horses that voted there in 1968 to give the PNC the lead in the overseas vote? For what it’s worth, 1978 wasn’t an election – but the referendum by Burnham NOT to have a referendum to approve his new 1980 Constitution!! The election was in 1980 – which the British Parliamentary Group of observers called “more crooked than barbed wire”!!
The death anniversary came hot on the heels of one trade unionist remembering that WPA’s Walter Rodney had dubbed Burnham “King Kong”. One overseas WPA member defended Rodney’s language by claiming it was “done spontaneously at a public meeting on Bourda Green as the army helicopter flew overhead, reminiscent of the movie. Context is important”!!
What’s this WPA fella trying to say? That Rodney didn’t mean to ridicule Burnham? What nonsense!! To the masses, Rodney’s most potent weapon wasn’t his Marxist analyses, but his ability to ridicule!! Let’s not forget he also dubbed Burnham “Fat Boy” and “King Midas”.
Only that in Burnham’s case, according to Rodney, everything he touched turned to “sh*t”!!
Anyhow, the WPA made up to the PNC on Burnham’s death anniversary, since they held an event to reflect on Eusi Kwayana and Emancipation on that day at Buxton.
All is forgiven!?
As mentioned above, there was a “Eusi Kwayana Emancipation Symposium” held at Friendship Primary School on Burnham’s death anniversary, Aug 5th. While Kwayana undoubtedly almost singlehandedly ushered in the fight against “mental slavery”, which Bob Marley was to famously sing about so much later, he was also linked to Burnham in one way or another during the latter’s lifetime.
When Burnham launched his bid to take over as leader of the PPP from Cheddi, even before the dust from the 1953 elections had settled, it was Kwayana – then still called “Sydney King” – who stood him down – just as he did on two later occasions. But Burnham still accepted Kwayana as one of the founding members of the PNC when that party was launched in 1958.
Kwayana finally broke from Burnham in 1973 – after he’d been placed in charge of the Guyana Marketing Corporation to facilitate the rural PNC supporters becoming viable farmers.
He was for emancipation in all its forms.
There are some who’re miffed the City Hall Mafia are spending $19 million to commemorate the 175 anniversary of the funding of the Garden City.
Your Eyewitness doesn’t know why some people can be so bad-minded. Why shouldn’t the Mayor and her chief sidekick celebrate the launching of their gravy train?
It shows gratitude!!