There can hardly be any doubt about it; most school children know that Republic Day means that the country’s head is not the Queen and that republicanism means we have severed constitutional ties with the UK.
Scholars will go on to debate whether in terms of the human condition (that thinkers from early Greek time to the moment have philosophised upon) Independence has brought a quintessential difference to the world of the former colonial subject.
If you take away colour, is there a difference between the colonial governor and the post colonial Prime Minister or President.
Actually, one can be daring and say that the difference lies in the cultured superiority of the governor.
He knew that the Vatican was in Italy. He knew Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. He knew jazz was a genre of music pioneered by American Blacks. He knew The Tag Mahal was in India.
Today in the Third World, the post-colonial rulers are a de-cultured (or degenerate) bunch. Rum, money and la dolce vita, and sexual promiscuity are their trade marks.
But what about compassion? Was the colonial governor crueler than the present Third World dictator? Here a closer consensus exists among the scholars who study Third World politics.
As I wrote in my Sunday column, post-colonial leaders have no sensitivity to human sufferings.
They are beasts; far crueler than the colonial governor. Could the answer be The Enlightenment? Colonial governors were schooled in the philosophy of the Enlightenment. They study the great philosophers. They studied Europe’s long struggle for social justice.
The colonial governor brought flowers for his secretary. Our post- colonial governors would ask their secretaries if they would like to go for a drink. If she asks for a flower they may think she means flour.
Third World dictators perhaps haven’t even read a philosophy book. We come to the third difference. The colonial governor had Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, Ashton Chase, Eusi Kwayana, Rory Westmaas and others to be afraid of. These anti-colonial activists would be indignant if the governor would dismiss a Guyanese worker at Her Majesty’s pleasure.
The masses would be called upon to down tools, take to the streets and protest this indignity. Rallies would be addressed by Burnham, Jagan and company. The masses would be promised that once Independence comes, dismissal on Her Majesty’s pleasure would be abolished.
Indeed it was done away with in terms of the pronoun. It was replaced by His Majesty’s Pleasure. Today in Guyana, after forty years of separation from Her Majesty’s Government, dismissal at the pleasure of the ruler is firmly entrenched.
Today, three anti-colonial activists are still with us – Rory Westmaas, Ashton Chase and Eusi Kwayana. Westmaas has retired from politics. Kwayana has long migrated but remain the true human rights icon of the Caribbean.
Mr. Chase may still be in touch with the ruling party that he helped found over sixty years ago. How does he feel about dismissal of public servants at His Majesty’s Pleasure like the CANU Officers, Ivor English from Transport and Harbours and countless others?
Let me end with a little story. About four years ago, I attended a wedding ceremony at a Church on Duncan Street (Newtown). Sitting on the bench in front of me was Mr. Chase himself. We exchanged pleasantries. The bridegroom was known to both Chase and me and was a senior sewage worker with GWI. In December 2008, that sewage work would have completed 35 years service but was terminated (without a fair hearing).
I suggested to him that he speak to Chase since Chase may have the ear of the top guns in the PPP including Mrs. Jagan. I don’t know if he did speak to Chase but he didn’t get his job back. I had cause to speak to Chase ten years ago when he was Chairman of the bank of what is now Republic Bank of Guyana.
The issue was the discipline of a UG student who worked part-time at the bank over a matter that didn’t concern the bank. I brought up the human rights dimension with Chase. Chase is still legally active although he is at the beginning of the nineties. He just won a case for the PPP Government in an election petition brought by the AFC.
So does Mr. Chase feel that Guyanese have become freer since we got Independence and became a republic? How do Rory Westmaas and Eusi Kwayana feel on the same question? How does the average person react to that proposition when it is put to him/her?
Their answer is a sad indictment of the people who inherited the power of the colonial governor.
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The chartered accountant, Mr. Nigel Hinds, who is a well known letter-writer to this newspaper had a missive published... more
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