Eyewitness: The battle…over hair


Here it was the Ministry of Education was just trying to show it was cool with the UN exhortation du jour – “International Women’s Day” – and decreed that on this day, all schools could relax their rules on female students’ “hair styles”. Yes…hair styles. Surely, dear readers, you aren’t so advanced in age as to not remember there are strict rules on the appearance of students. And if transgressed, it’s punishment of one sort or another. In your Eyewitness’s days when Sting was setting the trend on hirsute matters, he was put out of class for bringing the good name of the school into disrepute.

Yet today, today, Sting has “CBE” to his name, and there’s a lookalike in 10 Downing St in the person of Boris Johnson. So, things change, don’t they? As to what’s proper in schools – like for the rest of society – was set by the Brits. So, whatever they decided was “fit and proper” was decreed by the headmasters, who ruled the roost like Roman Emperors. They even had their “Prefects” to enforce their decrees!! Anyhow, back to our situation in Guyana, where – from what your Eyewitness can glean – the Ministry’s gesture raised up an old ants’ nest.

To wit, when the straight-haired Brits dictated their rules – as usual – they used themselves as the exemplars. The fly in the ointment, of course, was that half of our population, who have African genes, are born with kinky hair of various textures. And getting that hair straight on a kid (or adults for that matter) to follow those rules takes a lot of doing. It involves a helluva lot of pain for the subject of the ministrations that have to be inflicted! Problem is, even though we’ve been independent since 1966, no one thought to relook at the whole question of what’s “proper” for hair in school. Even though the comedian Chris Rick did a very informative documentary on the subject – appropriately titled “Hair”!

So, the Ministry’s well-meaning gesture just pulled the scab off an old, old sore – where a whole lot of pus had built up!! The point made, which outraged folks with kinky hair, was that if the Ministry recognised there was something amiss with the hair rule to’ve relaxed it (pun intended!) for a day, why not scuttle it for all times?? Fair point. But there are also rules in place for straight-haired students – like the Minister said, “Limsie” (real Guyanese word, boi!!), “muff”, plaits etc…

So, the Ministry has conducted a surgery of parents, and will now discuss with teachers for their input before a new regulation incorporating the new consensus is made.
But can there be consensus? Will it be “any hair goes”??

…over “civil society”

The struggle over who represents “civil society” continues unabated. Well, we shouldn’t be surprised. If “Politics is war by other means”, then “civil society” is the battleground where the war’s conducted. After all, the politicians get their power from people who make up “civil society”. When democratic government was invented, it was thought that civil society would choose their governors through their votes. If the governors messed up, then “off with their titles” at the next elections.

But a funny thing happened – well, not really HAPPENED, but invented – a bit after WWII. Not coincidentally, when we natives were being granted “independence”. Civil Society – which had elected the government – were now told they had to “organise” themselves in groups to protect specific areas of national life. In other words, to form watchdogs over those they elected to government. While your Eyewitness supports civil society groups in principle, they should be transparent on their organisational makeup.

They can’t be like knights who might’ve done some good once, then become hereditary kings!!

…over unipolarity

The Yanks have prodded Russia into allying with China in an already evolving bi-polar world. So, when asked to dissuade Putin, Chairman Xi could boldly tell Biden:
“He who tied the bell to the tiger must take it off.”