Philip Moore: The soulful, yet tragic journey of African-Guyanese
This column was typed on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. On that date in the edition of the Stabroek News, there was this letter; “The PPP/C has failed to ethnically balance Guyana’s armed forces,” written by an Indian man who supports PPP domination in Guyana by the name of Sultan Mohamed.
I don’t agree with any of the paragraphs of Sultan’s rage. But why should one deny Mohamed his right to express his opinion that there is a predominance of African Guyanese in the State’s security forces?
It is for African Guyanese to write, and write incessantly, that there should be ethnic balance in the ownership of Guyana’s resources; ethnic balance in the ownership of lands; ethnic balance in the ownership of properties; ethnic balance in the award of tenders; ethnic balance in state scholarships; ethnic balance in the business community that imports goods; ethnic balance in the sharing of executive political power.
The armed forces sector is the preoccupation of Mohamed and he writes on how he feels. There are thousands who say that African Guyanese are marginalized, but no African versions of Sultan Mohamed flood the newspaper. It is interesting that Sultan Mohamed’s letter and Philip Moore’s passing came up at the same time.
I was traveling to Berbice on Saturday afternoon, and in the car were Christopher Ram, Gerhard Ramsaroop and Michael Carrington. As we looked at the frenetic pace of constructions going up, I alluded to the fact that these are all owned by one set of investors. I was promptly told that ninety-five percent of Guyana’s private resources are owned by that particular set of the Guyanese nation. But we are yet to see frequent letters in the media about the need for ethnic balancing in this context.
If the Harvard, Oxford and Sorbonne political theorists come to Guyana, they would be confused on what to write when they come into contact with the great ethnic divide here. All over the world, including the US and Europe, when an ethnic community feels and experiences State discrimination, you can expect that the source of agitation comes from the victimized community, be it Corsica in France, Afro-Americans in the US, Blacks in Britain, Tamils in Sri Lanka, Basques in Spain, Germans in Poland, Russians in Georgia; not to mention the usual ethnic groups in the African continent.
Here in Guyana, the present picture contrasts sharply with the epoch of PNC power. Back then, East Indians were an angry, energetic, emotionally charged race group. They cried discrimination by an African-dominated Government. They were unstoppable in the confrontations and demands. Their leaders were unstoppable in their confrontations and demands. Finally, the indomitable spirit of the Guyanese East Indians prevailed. After 1992, East Indians in this land wedded business power with State power.
The consequences have not led to the development of a modern, free land and this writer is one East Indian that does not like the wedding, is unhappy with the shape the wedding turned out to have and will let his voice and pen be heard that this country must have ethnic balancing in all spheres.
If Sultan Mohamed chooses to focus on the armed forces then let him have his say. Where are the African Guyanese that want to have their say? African Guyanese should be thankful to President Ramotar for making Juan Edghill (it is my right to believe that he is not an ordained bishop of the Christian Church) a Cabinet Minister. If he was still in charge of the ERC then I would have been hauled before his (yes “his”) inquisition for writing this article which is purely and essentially a piece of academic commentary.
By now you must be wondering what this article here has to do with the great, heroic Philip Moore. Well it is not about him but about the state of African Guyanese politics. But Moore’s death was the symbol from which to call upon African Guyanese to reflect on where they are going. On Philip Moore himself, the State bears a horrible responsibility for his neglect.
How could the Government have treated this Caribbean icon like this? He was never given the recognition that was due to him.
I hardly knew Moore, but the little I knew told me he was a fantastically modest human being. Once during the crime spree in Buxton, he advised me not to worry about the criticism I was receiving because of my denunciation of the mis-directed violence. I liked him instantly the first time I met him.
He must be honoured in a substantial way by this nation.