A daughter’s question

December 20, 2012 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon 

Guyana was an enigma for the post 60s generation and from the 70s onwards it remains so for those born into this country. What is it about Guyana the past sixty years that has stultified it? What is about Guyana that it was a more developed state in 1960 than Malaysia but has been left behind by so many territories that came from far behind to eclipse it?
Outside of the ravages of civil war, is there a city in the entire world that is as stink as Georgetown?
Do you know that fifteen years ago the then High Commissioner of Canada went to UG to deliver a talk to a class in International Relations and as he walked into the classroom, on looking at the surroundings, he exclaimed; “This place is dirty.”
I was standing right next to him. If you bring back that gentleman to Guyana and he sees the environmental conditions of UG fifteen years after he made that remark and you walk him around Georgetown, that man is bound to say that Guyana is a complete failure as a viable society.
It is not that the mountains of garbage are left to rot, it is that more dirty sites are appearing. I have been jogging in the National Park for years now and I see that a huge pile of smelly garbage has taken up residence near the junction of Albert Street and Woolford Avenue.
The landscape of miasmic garbage is expanding in the city. How do you explain that in the 21st century, a government is embarking on funding a Marriot Hotel and is completely incapacitated in cleaning its capital city?
For over thirty-five years Guyana (not Georgetown but the entire country) has endured electricity disruptions. So the post-80 generation must have asked itself when would the blackouts come to an end.
Those born after 1990 have to suffer what those born in the eighties have experienced in their growing up years. What is it about Guyana that electricity outages which began at the beginning of the eighties are still plaguing us in 2012?
My daughter studied for her Common Entrance examination in blackouts. This was when she was ten. Today in December 2012, she is at UG and blackouts are tormenting her and have been terrorizing her since she entered UG four years ago.  Since the week began we have been getting electricity disruptions at Turkeyen (near to the great Caricom Secretariat, the great Convention Centre, the great Aquatic Centre and the imminent great upper income housing scheme of Eddie Boyer) not for two hours but twelve. On Monday, it lasted fourteen hours.
You are not going to believe what I am about to write but please do because life is about strange occurrences. Because Turkeyen (the part where I live) is an area of darkness I stopped buying ice cream. This was about three years ago because the ice cream would melt when GPL stopped our electricity supply.
Do you know after three years when was the day I resumed buying ice cream? Brace yourself for life’s strangeness. On Monday morning, going home after my morning exercise in the National Park, I stopped at the supermarket and bought the largest tub of ice cream (two-litre). On that very day at 9 A.M blackouts came and lasted until 10 P.M. the same night. The ice cream melted.
My daughter is studying for her exams and the electricity madness is on. On Tuesday night, she came up to me in the study. I had a torchlight over my personal telephone book looking for a number.
She asked; “Papa, when you were at UG under Burnham did you get blackouts when you were studying?” I immediately answered in the negative. I entered UG in 1974 and graduated without outages undermining my studies. That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
What is wrong with this country? How can you treat citizens like this in the Christmas season? My wife works. She comes home in the afternoon, so we do our Christmas cleaning in the evenings. We can’t anymore. There are no lights in the night where I live. How can a country’s authorities fail to monitor the traffic signals at the time of the year when the streets are overflowing with traffic?
I have written about this over and over.  In December 2012, I am writing about it again. In the holiday season, the traffic signals all over Georgetown have stopped working. Go and see the resulting madness for yourself. Guyana is one of civilization’s enduring tragedies.

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