Our neighbour, the US celebrated Halloween yesterday. Halloween is make-belief. We temporarily scare our relatives and friends that we are the reincarnation of an ugly, mythical creature. In Guyana, Halloween coincides with the Halloween of electoral campaign. Unlike the American caricature, the phantasmagoria in Guyana is real.
The masks are there alright but there is no fleeting moment to the horrific face. Their presence is permanent in a land where the masks of tragedy have bedeviled the Guyanese people for over half a century. We begin with the bacchanalian debaucheries at the PPP’s election rally in Bartica on Saturday.
Before I go into that, let me offer you a little incident whose description was painted to me by journalist Gordon Moseley. The event was the farewell for retiring police officer Paul Slowe. The place was the Police Officers’ Mess at Eve Leary.
Moseley told me when I got there that earlier the evening a very powerful police officer whose behaviour should at all times be circumspect because of the powerful institution he represents shouted across the hall; “Ya’ll keep meh labba curry, don’t eat out meh f…..labby curry, ah gun get f….. mad.” The guests heard every word.
This Halloween of scary behaviour has found its way into the halls of every conceivable public institution. The powerful men and women whom the young people of this land should look up to have destroyed the fabric of this nation with their Halloween of decadent, semi-civilized conduct.
Leaders throughout the world are filmed dancing; the great Barack Obama is no exception. I remember that when Senator John Kerry won the Democratic nomination to run against President Bush he did a little leg-shaking. But vulgar movements are a complete mess in front of a population whose respect for the leaders of the Republic is almost non-existent.
At the PPP Kitty and Lusignan rallies some inappropriate gyrations were offered by leaders who were so frenzied that they were totally oblivious to the real Halloween they were creating.
To date, the best campaign advertisement I have seen has come from APNU in the two independent dailies. An oxymoronic description is appropriate – it was hilariously serious. There was this homeless man in tattered clothes with a desperate, impoverished face holding a cup (the PPP’s symbol). He reaches out to you, begging for help, and juxtaposed with him is a picture of President Jagdeo wining down. Underneath Mr Jagdeo appears the caption; “This is not a dancing matter.”
It was funny alright. But it certainly told a large story of the breakdown of civility among the cabal that holds power in Guyana.
The gyrations and wining down continued in Bartica last Saturday. The back-balling was vulgar and extremely out of place but the leaders back-balled alright, their frenzy prevented them from sensing that their moment was a disgraceful one. One opposition party wrote that the back-balling was so sickening that maybe the gyrators were under the influence of drugs.
The Halloween caricature didn’t stop at back-balling. It rolled onto the carpet of subtle race-baiting. Mr. Jagdeo told Barticians that the PNC was involved in the massacre that took place there a few years ago and if APNU wins, the APNU Government will give guns to criminals. Isn’t this unadulterated ethnic pandering? Its toxic waste will leave long after the polls are over.
It will seep into the ethnic minds of some sections of the Guyanese society thus prolonging an agony that continues to destroy this wonderful group of people named Guyanese.
Perhaps the greatest Halloween masquerade of the election campaign occurred in the letter section of the two independent dailies last Sunday. Prem Misir published the same letter extolling the virtues of democracy under the PPP Government. Here is a man who has used two newspapers to get his message across that if his Government and his President get their way would destroy these media houses.
Here is a man who sits on the board of another newspaper, owned by the Guyanese people and the opposition cannot get a letter published in its pages. Here is a man telling us about democratic Guyana when in front of this writer, in front of the top administrators of UG, he demanded the immediate dismissal of a number of lecturers the Government wants off the campus because they are not PPP supporters. And this man tells us his government is a democratic administration.
The campaign has a month more to go and the Halloween train of fear, hypocrisy and damnation will lose its brake and run wild over this tragic land.
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