Eyewitness: Honouring…

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…our traditions

Yesterday, your Eyewitness had one of those “easy like Sunday morning” days Lionel Ritchie crooned about back in the day. It was a public holiday for Youman Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, who founded Islam, which is now the second largest religion in the world. And since it’s also the fastest growing, it will, in all likelihood, become number one sooner or later.

It was a welcome respite from the usual madding rush.

But what struck your Eyewitness is that although there are so many countries where religion has become flashpoints for tension, conflict and violence; here, in Guyana, we’ve been spared MOST of that. Notwithstanding that we’ve got all of the major religions here: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Indigenous Traditions, Baha’i, Rastafarianism, etc. And in this, your Eyewitness thinks there may be a lesson for our politicians and the polarised politics that have marred our relationships for so long.

So, what’s the lesson?? Well, for one, Christianity was introduced hundreds of years ago by the conquering Europeans, who insisted that all African religious practices had to be wiped out. But finally, they realised that they had to reach some sort of truce with new religions, like Islam and Hinduism, which came with the Indian Indentureds. The old-line Christian bodies – like the Anglicans, Presbyterians and Methodists, etc – concluded there was no point in waging another “Hundred Years War”. Of recent, there’s been some “fire and brimstone” perspectives introduced by the newer Christian Denominations. But these have been kept in line, most recently by the ERC, in one sordid eruption. One would’ve hoped that since most of their adherents are those whose original religious practices were forcibly wiped out, they’d appreciate the need for some level of “live and let live”.

And this is where we return to Youman Nabi, Islam, and our politics. Islam, like Christianity, also preaches an exclusive path to “salvation” – much like our political parties that each insist only they have the answer to all our challenges. But unlike the latest versions of Christianity, Islam in Guyana has grown not by denouncing others, but by its adherents practising the tenets of their faith. This has caused others to admire them, and in some cases, join them.

And to your Eyewitness, as he fell into his unusual pensive mood on Youman Nabi (hence this meditation), he hoped that for the sake of our survival as a nation, all our leaders – in politics and in religion and in culture and in everything that guides our social life –we’d adopt the Guyanese Islamic creed of “live and let live”.

And practice the tenet of “by your deeds shall you be known”. Can we get an “Amen”??

…our lawyers

We’ve got an interesting situation developing in our country – which has never lacked for “interesting situations”! This one concerns who can honour our more accomplished lawyers by conferring on them the honorific of “Senior Counsel”. They used to be Called “Kings” or “Queens Counsels” and with the silk gown they could now wear, the honour was called “conferring silk”.

Well, Granger conferred silk on a number of lawyers just before the elections. It was rumoured that one fella had been on the original list but was pulled off because he threw his hat into the (electoral) ring. He took umbrage at this and filed suit in the Courts. He claimed it wasn’t a case of sour grapes, but that the President has no authority to decide who should or shouldn’t be honoured for their work in law. Breached “separation of powers” and such like. The power was a “royal prerogative” and since we abolished royalty, that’s gone.

The question, of course, is whether Jonas will stand on principle and refuse silk!!

Yes, a principled lawyer isn’t an oxymoron!!

…Burnham

Burnham was called “Odo” by some of his followers, and your Eyewitness would like to know what that meant. He was reminded by Kwayana of another “call name” – “Kabaka”, king of the Baganda.