Hail up Karen de Souza and other great Guyanese

March 14, 2012 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon 


The US Embassy in Guyana has nominated Karen de Souza for International Woman of Courage. In Guyana, that choice should find approval from every Guyanese from every corner of this territory. Now which fool overlooked Karen for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize and suggested a ruler on whom there was incontrovertible evidence that he violated the rights of his people? That ruler I am referring to is the then President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo.
One of the problems that beset 20th century civilisation was that the younger generation never saw hope and virtue in the international leaders and global institutions that were set up after the Second World War to make the world a morally comfortable place to live in. Less than two decades after the United Nations came into existence, the youth of the world rebelled against the human condition. It has gone into the history books as the Age of Counter-Culture of the Age of the Hippies.
Nothing has changed from 1962 when the Beatles took the world by storm; when the youths of the US and Europe almost simultaneously overthrew their governments and when world business was seen as greedy and immoral by the younger folks.
The hypocrisy of international leaders and global institutions has remained intact. Maybe Occupying Wall Street could germinate into a second coming of counter-culture. So rotten is the beginning of the 21st century that books are being churned out by leftist professors that predict the second triumph of Marxism.
Two episodes for me (I am not saying that there aren’t others with more theoretical efficacy) point to the failure of the post-war world to make the globe a more optimistic setting. One is the blunt refusal of the UN to act to prevent genocide in Rwanda. The Rwanda genocide remains a blot on human civilisation. If we think that the Holocaust would never have a parallel situation, then the Rwanda genocide is it.
Secondly, I am still mentally confused as to how the UN could have bestowed the Champion of the Earth Award on Jagdeo when just a tap on the keyboard on Google would have revealed that he didn’t deserve it because Guyana had then and still has the most unhygienic and stink capital city in the world. I haven’t seen all the countries on the map but my bet is no other state is as dirty as the city of Georgetown in Guyana. The sight of the ubiquitous miasma is horrifying.
How can anyone leave people like Karen de Souza, Eusi Kwayana, Clive Thomas among other Caribbean citizens and nominate Bharrat Jagdeo for the Nobel Peace Prize? That is their right of course but it is also the right of others to show them that they dwell in ignorance.
There is an award that is offered annually by Ansa-McAl in Trinidad (Anthony Sabga Award) to Caribbean citizens for some outstanding endeavour. I cannot understand how Eusi Kwayana never copped that prize. In this world, the last people to be honoured by international institutions are those who fight for social and political rights.
It is time people like Karen de Souza be recognised for their selfless contribution to society in the realm of human rights. I first met Karen when she joined the WPA in the mid-seventies and had a rude introduction to politics. She was charged by the Burnham Government along with the top leadership of the WPA for arson against the Ministry of National Development.
From that year onwards, Karen de Souza has served the poor, the powerless and wretched of the earth with dedicated energy and optimistic zeal. If Guyana has produced an anti-dictatorship soldier, Karen de Souza is one.
She has taken her place alongside some gigantic names in Guyanese history like Tacuma Ogunseye, Dr. David Hinds, Moses Nagamootoo, Walter Rodney, Gordon Todd (deceased), Father Malcolm Rodrigues, Father Andrew Morrison (deceased) and others who have individually contributed over forty-five years in the struggle for social and political rights. In fact, Karen has fought alongside some of these great names.
We tend to shower unlimited praise on admirable people when they die. It is a fault in human beings. We do not want to say good things about valuable and valued humans while they are alive because we feel we will be accused of sycophancy or that it is not the right thing to do. I say that is nonsense.
When people have done great things in sports and business, we rush to extol their achievements. Why not assign the same treatment to our human rights’ champions. Hail up Karen!

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