I am glad that Mr. Seopaul Singh’s timely letter (SN January 17th, 2010) provides me with an opportunity to further comment on Mr. Eusi Kwayana and his actions.
The good Rev. Seopaul said that Mr. Kwayana’s trademark statement of the sixties was “partition or death,” and “death does entail some kind of violence.” The timing and implications of these statements deserve comments.
I remember this topic of conversation with my father. I asked him of the racist charges being made against Mr. King. He said do not believe all the simplistic things that you hear others say, reality and truth are often more complex. He said here I am a person of Indian heritage and a Hindu living in a home surrounded on all sides by African descendants in a village (Islington, Berbice) started by Africans.
In my capacity as president of Providence Hindu Temple, I speak on behalf of this ‘Indian’ membership does this make me a racist? No, I just represent the people who elected me to the best of my ability. My friends around me in the village would advise me to how to proceed to get help for people of our temple community (villagers and ‘logies’ dwellers). They are nurses, teachers and police officers who are always there to help me. They do not see me as racist because my attention is focused on people of Indian heritage.
He stated that likewise Mr. King is in a position to represent people of his community. His stage is larger than our small area. He is just doing what he feels is best for his people and we should respect his efforts to bring their plights to public attention, after all they have suffered indescribable horrors and have lost so much. Their pains were far greater than ours.
My father pointed out that Mr. King has never advocated violence. He fasts and prays to bring public attention to the plight of his people. This same strategy was advocated by Gandhi, and no one ever called him a racist for representing Indians. At no time has Mr. King advocated, participated in, or encouraged violence against ‘Indian’ people. Advocating for one group does not mean denigration of another. No one should make false charges on such an advocate for the good of others, especially those suppressed for centuries. We should better judge Mr. King by his actions.
These conservations taught me that there is usually more than meets the eye and laid the foundations to be careful when judging others, especially our elders.
My father admired M.K. Gandhi and his non-violence approach and exposed me to this philosophy. Those of us who followed the work of Mahatma Gandhi are aware that his work was in effect “Freedom or Death.” Thousands of Gandhi supporters were beaten mercilessly in this quest for freedom. Did Gandhi ask his people to retaliate with violent methods? No! The universal cry is ‘freedom or death,’ whenever oppressed people raise their voices. Unfortunately, this rallying cry is still heard around the world today.
Mr. Kwayana’s work of non-violent approaches still stands. He with others bore the brunt of the PNC’s wrath with his own limbs and life at risk. The PPP and its leadership ignored him on getting into power and a few are even now attempting to discredit his contributions to Guyana.
The PPP members who condoned this have taken ‘Indians’ and Guyanese politics to a new low. This disgraceful conduct can only bring discredit and further disharmony to this nation. This has to be the willful intent of the ruling elite, since they are the only ones who will profit well from polarization of the populace.
The PNC regime used a similar approach in their attempt to discredit Mr. Kwayana. It did not work then. It will not work now.
Mr. Seopaul questions something that a younger Mr. King said over four decades ago that he thought was suggestive of violence, but Mr. King’s record showed no such violent behaviour. His fasting, praying, and marching techniques were known to all of his time. Why judge someone’s possible motives of their words when their actions speak louder and clearer leaving no doubts?
Some questions for Mr. Seopaul and others: Would Dr. Josh Ramsammy (shot and miraculously lived) associate with someone who would destroy him? Would Fr. Darke (a Catholic priest killed by House of Israel thugs) associate with one who advocated violence against others including his ‘Indian’ parishioners? Would the Guyana Presbyterian Church (formerly Canadian Presbyterian Church) associate with anyone who would destroy ‘Indians’ in Guyana? (The leadership and membership of this Church was about 95% ‘Indians.’) Would ‘Indians’ welcome Mr. Kwayana to their communities during the Burnham’s years if they thought Mr. Kwayana advocated their destruction? The list of ‘Indians’ who associated with Mr. Kwayana is long. Rev. Seopaul is right to question anything that suggests violence years ago, but in all fairness he must also be similarly concerned with the present and actual acts of violence. Who is committing violence against the youths of Guyana in that students have their education short-changed? Who is committing violence against sugar workers of Guyana when they were sprayed with pesticides and lied to? Who is causing such despair that our young people are driven to despair? Who is attempting to discredit the names of those who speak out against the wrongs of this Government? Who stood silent and allowed the forestry resources and people of Guyana to be violently exploited? I can go on and on Rev. Seopaul, but I will stop here. The good Rev. Seopaul heard these words and thought they suggested violence and the subtle message is violence against ‘Indians.’ I heard them and thought they suggested commitment to the pursuit of freedom. We can both be right, but in this case Mr. Kwayana’s actions proved that the latter is right.
From our basic biblical training: We have to be careful how we judge others, since we will be judged by the same standards. We have to judge a tree by its fruit.
It is sad that after all these years, Mr. Seopaul harboured groundless fears. Hopefully, Mr. Seopaul can look at the record and judge justly. The fears of Mr. Seopaul unfortunately are also harboured by others and exploited by a few. We have to let go of the past to live up to great potential with us.
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