Eyewitness: Giving recognition…


…to a catalyst

The PPP Government has issued some commemorative stamps to recognise the 100th anniversary of Janet Jagan’s birth. And that is fitting. While your Eyewitness, in the interest of full disclosure, must let you know that he wasn’t exactly a fan of the lady’s ideology, there’s no gainsaying that she played a critical role in the history of modern Guyana.

To appreciate that role, we need to put her life in perspective. Born in 1920 – just a couple of months after women finally won the right to vote in the good old US of A – Janet’s formative years had been spent in the Great Depression. This, as we all know, started with the crash of the Stock Market in 1929, and placed countless millions – 25% unemployment! – on the breadline and in soup kitchens. It was this great failure of the free enterprise system which caused a wide cross section of Americans – including Janet – to question the premises of that system. It took WWII, which America entered in 1941, to pull them out of that Great Depression!

We should therefore understand that it was a vivacious young lady of 22 years, hailing from Chicago and at that time studying nursing – influenced by these earthshaking economic earthquakes – who met the young dentist-to-be Cheddi Jagan. He’d left Queen’s College in 1938 to complete a first degree at the historic black school Howard University, and had proceeded to Northwestern in Chicago to do dentistry. Interestingly, they met in 1942, when he fell ill and she was on the nursing staff.

To cut a long story short, they got married against the wishes of her family, and when he returned to Guyana the following year, he found out that his family didn’t approve of him marrying a “white girl”!! Dr Jagan recounted how she won over his family by willingly assisting all his (numerous) brothers and sisters to complete their education! She literally became the “blue-eyed Bhowgee” (sister-in-law)! Your Eyewitness likes this behind-the-scene account of these two young persons – just 25 and 23 when they returned to Guyana – who went on to change Guyana’s history.

They did that by shaking up the establishment, because they just didn’t fall into the line of the old order. This was an ossified, colour-coded, incestuous world, wherein persons like the Jagans were expected to “know their place” and strive to join the snobbish middle class as a dentist-and-nurse combo. They instead formed, at the Public Library, a Discussion Group which served as a catalyst for the new world that would emerge when WWII ended in 1945.

After the universal franchise was granted in time for the elections of 1953!!

…to Granger’s failure

Your Eyewitness is taken aback by the silence in the PNC’s constituency at Granger’s willfulness in the destruction of whatever goodwill that party might’ve earned in the sixty years it’s been around. What’s going on? Are they stunned by the Irfaan Ali Administration’s blitzkrieg since they clawed past Granger’s rigging overreach on August 2nd? Are they still in disbelief and shock at his arrogance to exclude the CHAIRMAN OF THE PNC FROM PARLIAMENT?

Have they become dismayed by the sheer banalities coming out of the mouth of Harmon, Granger’s hand-picked leader of the party Forbes Burnham created in his image? Talk what you want, but you can’t deny that even though he had many failings, Burnham had a way with words. And even this facility Harmon – and the neophytes Granger picked for him for Parliament – absolutely lack.

Sadly, while some PPPites might be gloating, this development isn’t good for them or the country.

It’s in such a leadership vacuum that a horseman might emerge!

…of systemic educational malfunction

Now that we know the reason for the abnormal results in this year’s CSEC and CAPE results – teachers’ and schools’ refusal to follow the instructions on submission of SBAs – your Eyewitness suggests we apologise to CXC.

And not cut the (educational) limb we were sitting on!