The dangerous symbolism of the Providence Stadium
I heard two cricket commentators, one West Indian, Fazeer Mohamed, and the other, English, David Lloyd, commenting yesterday during the cricket on how nice the Providence Stadium is.
Both men were in full praise of the structure. I thought immediately of the propaganda machinery of the Government. They would use those judgements to shout out loudly at the wonderful achievements of Mr. Jagdeo and the PPP Government. They would quote the observations of these two gentlemen non-stop all over the state owned media
Something like the Providence Stadium can be a dangerous symbol in this country. It can and will deceive the rulers into thinking that they are doing the right things for the country when in fact they are not. Take President Jagdeo and his Marriot Hotel plans.
That idea is dead but President Jagdeo put all his efforts into making the hotel a reality. After completion, Mr. Jagdeo and his Government would have shouted even louder about their great achievements. But the hotel would not have impacted in any major way on the very substance of this nation.
To think that the Providence Stadium and the Marriot Hotel would have transformed the economy of this country is a manifestation of the grossest ignorance of economics
Since the Stadium, the City Mall, Buddy’s International Hotel and other impressive structures were completed, we have had no decrease in migration rates, increase in educational achievements at all levels, (the Deputy Secretary-General of CARICOM lamented last week the poor, comparative CXC results for Guyana) significant growth rates, and a livable salary for the population.
With all the glitter that went into Guyana after these handsome motifs, the Government still couldn’t find money to build a pretty bridge over the Berbice River; only a fool would be unable to see that it is a basic, cheap bridge, comparatively speaking
What is the point? It is that national development and some nice buildings here and there cannot measure economic progress. This is why the Providence Stadium becomes a dangerous symbol because leaders in the Government deceive themselves into thinking that this is progress and Guyana is climbing into a productive future.
At the time when this newspaper hits the streets, Mr. Mohamed and Mr. Lloyd would be on a plane out of Guyana. They will never see, I repeat, never see in their respective countries what we live with here and what we as a nation have to put up with.
The glamour of the Providence Stadium cannot hide the fact that crucial aspects of life here are primitive and hopes of a change do not look encouraging. The toilet facilities in a majority of our schools at all levels are atrocious. Some schools still have pit latrines.
A charitable organisation, Food for the Poor, during the heavy rains fall last year, had to come to the rescue of teachers and children by erecting a toilet block near to the school buildings because to get to the pit latrines, they have to travel through flooded waters.
Many Georgetown schools do not have desks and benches. Georgetown’s sewage network is ancient. The dilapidated sewage lines that run under the High Court are intricately linked to the Georgetown system and to uproot them would entail massive expenditure
Would Lloyd in the UK and Mohamed in Trinidad put up with daily blackouts? Would they accept the conditions of the main streets and roads in London and Port-of-Spain respectively that eventually destroy your vehicles? I don’t want to mention UG but in my heart I feel deeply about the demise of that institution.
Would Lloyd and Mohamed remain emotionally unmoved at the non-functioning traffic lights in their respective countries? Have Lloyd and Mohamed, so impressed with the Providence Stadium, seen how dirty Georgetown is?
It is not that the Providence Stadium is not nice. It is. But it masks the reality of a country that is so tragic and underdeveloped. Just the way Lloyd and Mohamed find it handsome and impressive, they may feel that it is part of a country that is going places.
Where are the places we are going in this land? Yes we are going places; to other countries where thousands will overstay their time in tiny islands in the Caribbean only to be sent back when they are found. Finally what about the state of science and technology in Guyana?
What would Lloyd and Mohamed say if they know how many hundreds of killers are free in this country because our police force lacks the key to crime-solving in a modern world – forensic science.