EYEWITNESS: Remembering…

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…our Indigenous Peoples

Last Thursday was recognised by the UN as “International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples” and this year the theme is about their “migration and movement”. In Guyana, there’s been an ever increasing noticeable movement of Indigenous peoples from the hinterland to the coastland which hasn’t been commented on enough.

For the past three centuries, after the Dutch decided the Indigenous peoples weren’t suitable for plantation labour, most don’t appreciate the implications of that singular act. While we were called the “Land of Six Peoples”, one of those “peoples” – the Indigenous ones – never really mixed or mingled with the others.

All the Indigenous Peoples were exposed to were missionaries determined to “civilise” them by converting them to Christianity and “western ways”! Much of their own culture, including their Indigenous spiritual practices, were wiped out in this “civilising” mission. Thus today, when some talk about reviving the “old ways”, those ways are really being reinterpreted through western lens. As that old Greek fella Zeno said, you can’t dip your toe twice in the SAME river!!

While that may be the story of all the other five peoples, it’s most noticeable with the Amerindians since the western scorn for their way of life has been drummed into the hearts and minds of those on the coastland – who were exposed more thoroughly to western “education”. Remember that nasty incident at the “elite” Mae’s Schools in Georgetown when that Indigenous kid who’d moved to “town” was told to show up in traditional wear, but was turned away because being in a grass skirt was too “primitive”?

Another point about the movement of Indigenous peoples from the hinterland to the coastland is it brings home the sordid fact that even those in the latter locale who complain about “the sh*thole” with clapboard houses they live in, should appreciate it’s still attractive enough to pull those people here!! In every survey that’s been conducted over the past centuries – into the new millennium – the Indigenous peoples have stubbornly been relegated to the “poorest of the poor”.

But it’s of more than passing interest that those who purport to be championing the cause of the “poor and the powerless” have never directed their suggestions for doling out the oil money directly to the Indigenous peoples. Even though they’re the paradigmatic example of the “poor and the powerless”. They’re veritably, “invisible peoples”.

But it is said “time longer than twine”. Because of the changing demographics where Indian and African Guyanese have pretty much the same numbers, Indigenous peoples now hold the balance of power in the land. Just look how the politicians will be courting them!!
They should insist on writing their own ticket though!!

…elections troubles

GECOM invited a UN team to assess possible risks following the 2020 elections. After the PNC rigging years, our elections have been marred by violent PNC protests since the first free and fair elections of 1992! It took a call from US President Clinton to have Hoyte call off the Hamilton Green-led goons who’d stormed the elections centre.

The PNC refused to accept the 1997 elections and that precipitated another round of violence that escalated into “Buxton Freedom Fighters” leaving hundreds dead. So it wasn’t surprising the UN assessment team predicted there will be myriad 2020 post-elected challenges – chief among them being “non-acceptance” of the results!!

But that doesn’t take a genius to figure out, does it? Right off the bat, there’s the outrage of Granger’s unilateral appointment of the GECOM Chair!! He’s confirmed the worst fears of being a PNC “toothless poodle” by using his casting vote to push the PNC line in every decision of a supposedly “balanced” Commission.

So why’s the UN waiting until AFTER the elections to sanitise matters?

…Lombard Street

For decades, Lombard Street was our Red Light District in Georgetown. And was accepted as such by the powers-that-be. The villages weren’t so liberal!

But the 27 “strippers” nabbed at a joint in Covent Gardens suggests changing times!!

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