EYEWITNESS: Free at last …in 2021?


Well, here we are, 183 years after our enslaved ancestors were finally emancipated and we’re still talking about whether the promise of freedom has been fulfilled!! Shouldn’t we have long passed that stage?? Meaning that freedom should’ve become passé by now…something unremarked. But if we’re honest about it – and not just saving our blushes – we were still ruled till 1966 – by the British!! And they still controlled every aspect of our lives to ensure we remained in a state of dependency. “Neocolonialism” and all that!!

Think about it folks. Aren’t we still producing sugar mainly by human labour – much as the slaves did back in the day? Planting, manuring, clearing weeds, catching rats, cutting cane, fetching it on our heads etc etc? Can ordinary sugar workers live on $2200 per day?? If we’re really emancipated, shouldn’t we have emulated our forebears and removed ourselves from the scene of our degradation? Why is it with all our resources, we’re still hovering precariously above Haiti in the development ratings? And imagine Haiti became free in 1804 – slaves and country! But they became enmeshed with neocolonialism nonetheless, didn’t they?

So, the lesson your Eyewitness gets from our history is that we gotta deal with this hydra-headed monster called “neocolonialism”, if we really want to live out the meaning of “emancipation”. So, what are its bases? We can do worse that go back to our own experience. When we got “independence” in 1966, Burnham and Jagan talked a lot about “emancipation”, neocolonialism and freedom. Their way to get us freedom was to nationalize all the big industries like sugar and bauxite that were owned by the colonials and their cohorts. We the Guyanese people now owned our resources and the White Man wouldn’t suck our life blood out any longer! That was the promise, at least!

But we know how that ended, don’t we? Even worse off that during colonialism – and some would say even slavery. Your Eyewitness doesn’t agree. At least when we ran away to every country that we could enter – by hook or by crook! – Burnham didn’t send mercenaries to drag us back! Immigration agents of the receiving countries sometimes did that. We had new categories of citizens – back-trackers and deportees!

But your Eyewitness is excited about where we are right now – with billions of barrels of oil struck and counting. He’s perfectly aware that Trotman and the PNC – sold us down the river (as used to be said about the betrayal of slaves trying to escape). But hey, the crumbs we’re getting aren’t anything to sneeze at. We can still fulfill our Emancipation dreams, can’t we?

But only if we quit fighting each other.

…with new Institutions?

One of the lessons from slavery and the post-emancipation era (into the present) is that rather than each generation or each group trying to become free “from scratch”, we form institutions that would continue down the generations and evolve to deal with contingencies. The first was the early savings being pooled to purchase villages – land, which still remains one of the most solid investments. Literally and figuratively.

But land just left lying doesn’t increase in value…it must be used to generate income – from farming or construction or otherwise. The co-op was the mechanism that Burnham proposed we use to mobilize to add value to land. Some still hanker for these. Have they actually worked? Do we need new institutions?

Then there was the “box hand”. Shouldn’t we have evolved this to owning banks after 183 years? Anyone can open a bank…the requirements are there on the a bank of Guyana website. All we gotta do is satisfy the requirements – which are doable.

And emancipate ourselves!

…from Govt High handedness.

You, dear readers, might think your Eyewitness has a bee in his bonnet about the four Parliamentary Sectoral Committees. But their importance go beyond mere real-time audit of governmental activities.

The Opposition can control govt excesses.