Buxton through the eyes of a distortionist
The visit by the President of Guyana to Buxton has prompted commentaries from many quarters, including prominent Indian commentators and the Indian blogosphere. The commentaries by the latter groups generally fall into two categories—those who view the president’s visit as a good move by the government to bring about racial harmony and those which view it as representative of Indian hegemony and African compliance.
The former have taken me to task for being too harsh and for daring to speak as an African while the latter have dismissed me as a racist. But there is another part of the narrative—that which has characterized Buxtonians as helpless, needy, violent and lazy people who are being rescued from their state of semi-savagery.
A classic example of this is a recent column I found that was written by Oscar Ramjeet, an Indian Guyanese lawyer and journalist. It was posted on the website, Caribbean News Now, and is now posted on my website guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com.
The article under the caption “Prominent Buxtonian condemns facilitators of President Jagdeo’s visit” gives Mr. Ramjeet’s assessment of my first statement on the President’s visit. Apart from the usual commentary about my divisiveness, Mr. Ramjeet makes some startling remarks about Buxton and Buxtonians.
I immediately emailed the article to one of the leaders of the Buxton committee, which facilitated the President’s visit, the media, some political leaders, activists and commentators. I waited to see if the media would say something about the article. I also waited to see if the Buxton Committee or its individual members and supporters who so eloquently condemned my statements would rise in defense of their village. After two weeks neither has said anything.
Mr. Ramjeet takes issue with my statement that Buxtonians and African Guyanese should not be beggars. According to him, “Hinds’ statement is way off because Buxtonians are not known to be hardworking people and were not known as producers even when the People’s National Congress (PNC) was in government between 1964 to (sic) 1992.”
This is what Mr. Ramjeet is saying- if you are lazy then you have to be a beggar. Now, Mr. Ramjeet is not an ordinary person; he is a lawyer, journalist and commentator whose writings appear regularly in the Guyana Chronicle and other regional news outlets. He is a friend of the PPP and its government.
What is even more significant is that Mr. Ramjeet’s feelings about Buxtonians are part of the stereotype of Black People which is often repeated by many of the Indian blogs on the President’s visit to Buxton.
Mr. Ramjeet goes on: “Jagdeo no doubt wants to assist the people to go back to agriculture and even offered assistance for their entertainment. I do not recall any administration, even the Forbes Burnham and Desmond Hoyte regimes, which gained full electoral support from Buxton, ever extending assistance to such an extent.”
Here he portrays Buxton as these totally helpless people who are being saved by the President, even to the point of giving them some entertainment.
It is an open secret that there are sections of the Indian community which feel that all you have to do to capture Blacks is to dangle some rum, party and money.
Another Indian commentator, Mr. Sasenarine Singh of the AFC, while bashing the PNC for not doing much for Africans, tells us how the PPP is now “feeding” Buxton. After saying some nice things about Africans, Singh tells us what he feels about the President’s venture into Buxton—”PNC did nothing when the PPP starved Buxton and Victoria and now they are crying foul when the PPP is feeding Buxton.”
So somebody has to “feed” Buxton…feed the hungry. This is coming from an AFC Indian—a member of a party that promises to free Guyana from the clutches of race politics We now get a sense why the AFC said NOTHING on the Buxton issue—the only major party not to issue a statement.
But this is what is invited when leaders behave the way those Buxton leaders did; they open their community and people to all kind of “bad mouth” and abuse that are aimed at their very collective pride and dignity. That is why I am continuously offended by the use of the word “help” by well-intentioned people and entities to describe the government’s intervention in the village. The Buxton Accommodationists use it. Stabroek News used it in their editorial. The President uses it. They are all oblivious to or ignoring its loaded meaning in our ethnic context.