The horror, the horror…of WC Berbice riots


In Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, as the antagonist Kurtz lies dying and his life of evil – destroying countless lives and souls in an unnamed colonial African country – flashes before him, he could only whisper, “The Horror, the horror!” For four days, in the estimation of your Eyewitness, Guyana retrogressed to that primitive state that Kurtz had helped plunge that benighted land into.

Think of it. It all started with the gruesome discovery of two teenagers – Joel and Isaiah Henry – horrendously hacked to death in the backlands of their native West Berbice. Who could do such an act?? Armchair psychologists insist that the brutal method of the killings – stabbings and chops that pretty much severed the spines of the lads – indicated a whole lot of anger. Who could be so angry with these boys as to kill them so macabrely??

In Guyana, all sorts of theories are floating about. One was slickly floated by Granger and Harmon when they visited the parents of Isaiah and stated that the PPP Government wasn’t “protecting them”. This served to politicise the issue. There isn’t a Guyanese alive that doesn’t know “politics” in our country means a competition between African and Indian-Guyanese. It’s on this theory that African-Guyanese villagers all across West Berbice moved from blocking roads with flaming debris to beating, robbing, and destroying Indian-Guyanese vehicles. And, of course, the killings of Haresh Singh and Prettipaul Hargobin occurred.

From this theory, the WCB riots – and that’s what the “protests” turned into after the first night – can be seen as a continuation of the political struggle the PNC launched after March 5th when they convinced their supporters that Mingo wasn’t trying to rig the elections on their behalf. And on Aug 2, the PPP was assisted by “furriners” to remove them from office: the PNC wuz robbed!! It is this background angst triggered by Granger and Harmon’s incendiary remarks, many folks posit, that mushroomed the anger over the teenagers’ gruesome murder to the full-blown rage against perceived PPP supporters, who of course are assumed to be Indian-Guyanese.

Another theory that just surfaced it that there could be some sort of “gang” activity the young men were involved in, when it was revealed that Joel, Isaiah and Haresh used to “hang out” together. At this point, your Eyewitness doesn’t want to speculate any further, save to say that there needs to be a most thorough forensic investigation.

Hamilton Green says the President’s suggestion for foreign help in this area undermines the GPF.

Clearly, he was nodding off when Harmon already undermined the GPF’s credibility by insisting they were “infiltrated” by thugs”!

…and the resentment

The old nursery rhyme goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”. But what we saw coming out of the WCB Riots is that words have caused so many bones to be broken. This is illustrated by one incident in which a Corentyne rice farmer was heading in his pickup towards Bath on WCB, and was stopped by a mob of about 60 men and women, who hurled racial insults at him. They then turned their attention to one of his Afro-Guyanese workers at his side. They cursed out the employee and accused him of being a “slave” for the rice farmer. In the words of the shaken farmer later, “The people tell he, ‘You should have been his boss, not him bossing you. Come out de vehicle, leh we deal with he; leh we teach he a lesson!’”

Now, does any of this sound familiar?? Aren’t these the words that we’ve heard so many times from the PNC-affiliated “activists”?

Words have consequences.

…but the grace

But amidst all the brutality and savagery, there was also kindness. Of the employee above; of the mixed families of Hopetown, who gave shelter, food, and even money to the family of that terrified 16-year-old.

There’s hope.