There’s an unerring habit to put down persons who have taken their knocks in life and emerged against the odds. In many ways, the reason why this is done; why we put down others who have succeeded where we have failed, is in order to excuse our own shortcomings.
If only we can accept that in life while we are all born equal, the luck of the dice can tilt things in favour of some, and therefore these persons emerge financially better off than others simply because they got the lucky breaks or happened to be in the right business at the right time or simply because they worked harder than others.
Instead of accepting these things, it is habitual in Guyana for people to accuse other persons of having attained their wealth through ill-gotten means even though those making the accusations have no shred of evidence to substantiate what they are saying.
A few years ago, I encountered this very thing when a young man opened a supermarket. Immediately someone came up and whispered to me that the man has to be into certain activities that were illicit in nature. I asked the accuser whether he had any evidence to this effect, and he said he did not need any evidence, that the assets of the man speak for themselves. “ He pop-up too quickly,” he said.
Upon further investigation, I discovered that the man who had opened the supermarket came from a business-oriented family that had made a great deal of money during the time when goods were in short supply. The guy virtually grew up in business and his family had supported him. The banks knew that the family had a good track record and so lent him the money to go into businesses.
Yet without any shred of evidence, there are people who like to put others down and cast aspersions because it justifies their own failures. They ask themselves how it is that they with all the education and right background could be overshadowed by someone else.
When Kaieteur News first emerged the newspaper was subject to this form of class bias. There were others in the media business who simply could not accept that man who did not belong to the old colonial middle class, or who was not part of the lettered intellectual class, could have established a newspaper.
They had no respect for Kaieteur News because they refused to accept that someone who emerged from the grassroots could be entrusted with providing information to the public. That role, they believed, was reserved for those who were part of the intellectual or professional classes.
They described the paper as a rag and a tabloid. They found it revolting that each week a lovely lady adorned the front page of the newspaper. They could not accept that in any newspaper because they came from a different class. And so they looked down at Kaieteur News, all of them except the small readers who loved this newspaper, its style of reporting and the fact that it held back no punches.
This characteristic was in the main because of Glenn Lall. So what is happening now with rumours dogging this good man is nothing new. All persons who have distinguished themselves have been put down, and not just in Guyana.
People see someone succeed. They know very little about that person and so they make up some tale. Some of them were so angry that a person not of their class could be successful in the newspaper business that they spread rumors. They could not accept that a man from the grassroots could succeed in the same business as them. So when they got together with their friends, they dropped remarks.
Glenn Lall may not have known too much about newspapers when he helped launch Kaieteur News. But he knew that there was a need for a third newspaper, one that was for the ordinary people.
He was business savvy and knew that in time it would develop despite what people said.
While those who looked down on his attempts to get his newspaper going were cuddling up with the powers that be, there were people like Glenn Lall who were putting shoes on their feet. He started out as a trader and it was never easy being a trader even though the money that could be made on one trip was far more than teachers made in six months.
In fact many persons abandoned their regular jobs and took up trading. Today some of them are stinking rich and you would not believe that thirty years ago, they were struggling to survive on their monthly public service salaries. Yet they too have been at one time or the other subject to rumor-mongering
It was no easy life. Sometimes, these guys had to sleep at airports with their luggage. Sometimes they were given a hard time by the airlines. Often they themselves were pests, bothering passengers to help them out with their overweight. But we must applaud those persons like Glenn Lall who helped put food on our tables, clothes on our backs and shoes on our feet.
Long before the little Caesars that have now emerged knew anything about politics, there were traders like Glenn Lall who kept this nation afloat, and that is something that we should never forget because there was a time in this country when the real entrepreneurs were not those with the big buildings on Water and Regent Streets, but the ordinary traders who went with their suitcases and brought back things that allowed Guyanese to obtain scarce items.
True, those guys made a lot of money and they were envied for that, but it was never easy sleeping on an airport floor all night with one eye open just in case someone decided to steal your goods.
In one instance a senior military officer stole all of Lall’s shoes and took them to the National Park. So it was never easy.
In the process, however, these entrepreneurs learnt the art of business. They learnt how to negotiate a deal, where to get the bargains but more importantly, they came acquainted with the needs of the people and what would sell and what would not sell.
Today many of them are doing well, so well in fact that people are trying to pull them down.
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