What do people like to read in this season?
I went to the online editions of several newspapers around the world to see what subjects social commentators dwell on during the Christmas season. I was thinking that it may be burdensome on readers to keep offering them doses of serious topics on world affairs, domestic politics and sociological areas during the holiday season.
The thought also occurred to me that in countries (Guyana including) where Christmas is really celebrated in stupendous ways, it may be best for a commentator to save his/her profound pieces until the season clears up, because few readers touch the newspapers during the Christmas holidays in the way they would do in less hectic times.
What I found was surprising. Not many of the major political and social commentators diverted from their regular terrain. Could one of the reasons be that despite preoccupations with visiting families and friends and a busy shopping schedule, people all over the world want to know what their governments are doing and are still intrigued at this time of the year by the subtleties, conspiracies and drama of life in their countries?
In Guyana, the Christmas feelings are all over this territory of 83,000 square miles as it has been the past umpteen years, but people are still paying attention to the darker and contentious side of things. People are still talking about politics while Christmas is around the corner.
For example, the intended site for the 1823 monument is a topic for discussion in the light of the explanation of the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport. He offered two reasons why the construction will go to Carifesta Avenue by the GDF headquarters.
First, it could not be placed at Parade Ground where the sod was originally turned in 2002 for the erection of the monument because it will encroach on the football field. Secondly, the prominence of an area was the deciding factor. Both explanations lack credibility.
First, the field at Parade Ground is so large that the monument will in no way affect any sporting activity in that area. This position is simply untenable. Could it be it is because Parade Ground is also named after Forbes Burnham? This Government gets literally paranoid when anything the PNC Government built since 1964 is given honourable mention.
Secondly, one should reserve harsh words for the Minister’s theory that the monument’s location at Carifesta Avenue was because that is a popular area and it will be viewed by large numbers of people. This is faulty thinking in relation to monuments. Only great national figures have their statues placed in the downtown area. The reason for this is because they were national figures known for their all-embracing national achievements. But even in this context, the Minister is riding on a road of embarrassment.
Cheddi Jagan served the whole of Guyana but his decorated burial site is in the village of Port Mourant where he grew up. It is obvious that Jagan made a request to have his name honoured in the enclave where he was born into.
If one uses the logic of the Minister, then Jagan’s tomb should be placed in a prominent location in downtown Georgetown. When a nation erects a statue to a great doctor, lawyer, journalist, professor, scientist, the context cannot and should not be ignored.
If John Jones as a doctor worked for fifty years in the village of Xanadu and saved thousands of lives, why would you locate a monument to him outside of Xanadu? The argument is the same with the 1823 construction. The edifice in memory of the Enmore martyrs is in Enmore and not at Vreed-en-Hoop. A little construction is in Leonora for Kowsilla who was killed in that village by the colonial police.
If the Minister doesn’t want the monument to be at Parade Ground then he should find a spot that has historical connection to the bravery of the slaves. Carifesta Avenue has none.
Finally, even though it is Christmas, politics is still dominating the scene. People are saying that the opposition is fighting back. Last week, the opposition gave the Government a dose of its own medicine. It filed a motion in the High Court asking the Chief Justice to quash the writs the Attorney-General (AG) has filed in relation to the Rohee motion.
People told me that if the AG could go to court to question the decisions of Parliament then the opposition could go too and question the legal validity behind all the writs the AG has filed against Parliament. It looks like the opposition has awakened from its year-old sleep.