Eyewitness: Remembering…

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…our June past

Of recent, there’s been a whole lot of looking back (with anger?) during this month of June. Notably, about the five sugar workers gunned down at Enmore back in 1948 and Walter Rodney’s assassination by Burnham and the PNC in 1980. Seems to be human is to continuously “remember” our past to simulate continuity in our lives! Remember Proust’s aphorism: “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily remembrance of things as they were”?

There’s a lot to unpack in that pithy statement. At the most mundane level, we’re now assured that memory does, in fact, lie “in our heads”. There, three specific organs – the hippocampus, the angular gyrus and the precuneus – retain and coordinate our memories.

Remove the hippocampus and you don’t remember anything at all – either from the distant or immediate past. The angular gyrus, however, has a role in how vividly we can recollect particular memories, while the precuneus provides that subjective feeling as to how well we remember. Or not.

So, whenever we remember, we literally RECONSTRUCT that memory – based on sights, sounds and other sensations and feelings that were stored separately and have to be retrieved by the three organs. And as Proust posited, we can reconstruct them quite differently from what “actually” happened. Someone might’ve told us something different about the same event; we might’ve read some additional “facts”, and these are added as grist for our “minds” to put together and retrieve. Yep…all of those form our own memories of our own experiences!

So, imagine what happens when we “remember” events like the two mentioned above, where we didn’t experience but only heard about them! Aren’t we at the mercy of those who did the telling and then our reconstructions?? How can we be sure we were told everything that happened. Take, for example, Rodney’s assassination. We know that from the sixties at UWI in Jamaica – when he started “grounding” with what were considered by the authorities “disreputable” characters – the Rastafarians and “rude boys”, for instance – he came under surveillance. And this continued in London when he studied there, and when he went to work in Tanzania.

Did these spies plant anyone in the WPA when he returned in 1974, and hooked up with them? Remember this was the height of the Cold War, which was very, very HOT in the Third World!! In Guyana, the ideological question loomed quite large, and unlike as with Burnham, the powers-that-be would’ve known that Rodney was no opportunist spouting Marxist revolutionary rhetoric just to sound “progressive”! This was one serious brother committed to root-and-branch change.
This isn’t an idle question, ‘cause many of the players (and possible plants) are still in play!!

…the provocateurs of violence.

Remembering Enmore reminds us that most of the “uprisings” before the 1960s were spontaneous against their direct oppressors. But, in 1962, the Black Friday arson and riots of Feb 16 were instigated by foreign operatives using their well-honed tactics. Like spreading a rumour in the massed crowd in front of Parliament that a baby had been killed by tear gas! The mob went berserk!

This became the new norm: the 1963 strikes and violence, ditto in 1964. Fast forwarding to 1997, the PPP was accused of “stealing” the elections, which segued into “slow fyaah; mo fyaah” leading to the “African Resistance” in the 2002 post-Mash Day Jailbreak. It didn’t end until 2008, after hundreds had been killed and the “Freedom Fighters” had been wiped out.

Today the rumours are being repeated by a new bunch of provocateurs, following news that the Government was facilitating a “Regional Joint Support Team” (RJST) by the Joint Services to buttress their crime fighting capabilities!
Those who forget…

…our cricket, glorious cricket
Hang down your heads, fans of West Indies cricket. Hang down your heads and cry. For it surely seems that unless something is done – and QUICK – our cricket is gonna die.
Where’s the pride?