…with its cleavages?
No… your Eyewitness doesn’t have a crystal ball, but what he does have is a good understanding of the people he’s lived among all his “born life”. He’s a good listener, and loves to “gyaaf” with friends from every race and ethnic group in his dear land of Guyana. As such, he’s been able to appreciate that while most folks like to talk about “all a-we a waan”, they really see the world in ways that are remarkably correlated with their ethnic background. Meaning that “all a-we” aren’t really “one” in Guyana.
By disentangling these different narratives, your Eyewitness has been able, at every turn, to predict what’s going to happen in our tortured politics, hasn’t he?? And that, dear friends, brings us to the crux of the matter: it’s all about politics, which is all about power, and determines who gets what, when and how. So, forget all the fancy talk…let’s discuss what the narratives say, and we’ll get an idea of what the ethnic groups specifically want and how far they’re willing to go to get “it” – during this crisis and whenever.
One set of Guyanese point out they were here first, yet remain the perennial poorest of all by every measure – especially economically. Their culture is derided as “backward”, and no one gives a hoot about their ideas on how the nation ought to conduct its affairs. Their numbers have finally given them the potential to be a swing vote between the two major groups – improve their lot. But they haven’t been able to sustain a political vehicle to really get that leverage. In the meantime, they split their support between the aforementioned behemoths, and depend on their benevolence.
Another set of Guyanese form one of the “behemoths,” and define themselves in all respects by comparing themselves to the “other”. They insist they came before, built this country on their slave labour, were educated and “civilised” first, and it’s not fair that they’re now economically worse off than their bete noir. This is their major gripe, and they feel that if the latter were to have political power along with their economic clout, then they (the former) will always be behind.
The other behemoth relate how they came and “saved” the country back in the day, and they shouldn’t be told that they aren’t “real” Guyanese because they’ve maintained some of their ancestral culture. Part of the reason for their economic success, after all, is because of those cultural practices, which pushed them to “work hard”. They feel bullied by the other behemoth, since they’ve been excluded from the governmental institutions like the Police, army and Public Service that exercise state power.
Can they ever agree on anything for Guyana??
…in West Berbice?
So, with the above as background, we can now turn our gaze to the unrest that spread from WC Berbice to the Corentyne in the wake of the gruesome murder of those two unfortunate Henry cousins.
Right off the bat, we have to condemn, once again, Granger and Harmon for their politicisation of the murders. The father of Isaiah – supposedly an uneducated villager – put them to shame with his forthright condemnation of the politicisation and his call for unity between Indian and African Guyanese.
Now, of course, there’s anger at the murder of Joel and Isaiah amongst…there has to be; these were sons of the village. But anger against all Indian Guyanese?? No question, Harmon and Granger stirred up that anger…but there had to be some anger already there in their hearts to stir!! And this is where the narrative of the African-Guyanese, of which these villagers are members, comes in: there is a resentment of the Indian- Guyanese economic success; hence the beatings and robberies.
…in this crisis?
The point your Eyewitness is making, dear readers, is that the West Berbice unrest is a symptom of deep underlying fears and uncertainty in our two major ethnic groups.
We can’t plaster it over.