Nov 07, 2011 Letters
In Guyana, we easily become naturalists since we constantly observe and learn about nature from our tropical surroundings.
We know that when an animal is faced with a fearful situation in which its own survival (or that of its young) is threatened, it makes some serious choices: invoke the fight or flight responses, hide or camouflage, stay and hope the danger will past, or give up to its inevitable fate.
Some animals hide their young and then come out to distract the threatening predators and in the process sacrifice their own lives. This drama of life, survival and death is being played out over and over again, all around us – in the air, water and land.
But this drama occurs not only in the lives of the wild animals, but also in the lives of Guyanese from the very beginnings of human occupation here. Their lives parallel ours.
The Amerindian nations, who originally dwelt on the Coast, were subjected to the invasion of others. They fought, fled, hid or were taken prisoners – being relieved of their possessions, families and freedom. Many died in captivity and those fortunate enough to escape, ran into the forest into more inaccessible places. The need for freedom rather than captivity is a universal human condition.
The early Europeans, who came here, likewise, hunted the Amerindians to serve on their own lands as slave labourers. The same responses were made with the same life-destroying results.
The several nationalities of Africans, who were later brought here to do the de-humanizing plantation work etc., flew into the bushes, when the opportunities arose. How many suffered and died in their quest for release from bondage is unknown. Our oldest villagers told stories of survivors living deeper and further inland in the bushes. Again we were people on the run in search of that elusive dream of a place to simply survive with our loved ones.
The East Indians who came here suffered and endured the harsh conditions of their unfavorable labour contracts. Some found release in suicides and some went back, but most stayed. Now more people run, by legal or illegal means, to escape their prolonged oppressions.
Each set of human beings endured their overlord impositions. Survival in each case being made with the hope that they would live to see their children’s burdens lifted and they would die peacefully with their loved ones in attendance in a land they loved. Such dreams have been articulated by our poets and writers and by many elders.
One of the greatest tragedies which befell this land is the dictatorial impositions of the Mr. L.F.S. Burnham’s regime. The sadness of this event was the willingness of others to do the whipping and dehumanizing deeds of that late ‘Supreme Leader’. The responses of the local population were similar to those seen previously by both animals as well as humans. Some people fought back and lost their lives (e.g., Dr. W. Rodney and Fr. Darke), most fled, children were sent to safe havens in foreign lands. Those who were forced to stay endured the harshness likewise dreaming of a better tomorrow.
Now a new Dictator with his own enforcers (some from the older regime) has emerged. President Jagdeo was the gift of the PPP to us, and this party and its officials are therefore responsible for his excesses beyond that of the above-mentioned tyrant. The people’s responses to poverty, homelessness, lack of jobs, lack educational opportunities, crime, drugs and perversions are the same. Some are fighting back, many fled or are fleeing, and some as before, forced to endure the harshness, hopelessness and brutalities of the realities in the struggles for daily survival. We still dream of a better tomorrow for ourselves and our children.
There is one thing that I was fortunate to see twice in Guyana, this is, ‘blue sackies’ and a ‘kis-ka-dees’ both jointly and ferociously chasing a ‘chicken hawk.’ There is no fury like the fury of a mother and no incensed rage like that of a father fighting and protecting its young. Our local birds have figured it out that though the top predator is powerful and control the odds of life and death, the cooperative counter-attacks can stave off further loss of the young and defenseless.
Now the top human predators nest in their enclaves of ‘Pradoville 1 and 2’ from where they prey on the defenseless population at will. The top human predator is more powerful than its avian counterpart in that it also behaves as a camoudie squeezing its victims to suffocation, and like a caiman never letting go. There is no escape. From his lofty nest surveying his territory, this top predator is truly the “Champion of the Earth.” (Earth here is Guyana.)
We have a choice to rise beyond our own immediate fears and jointly expel those who have desecrated our land, our children, our future, our institutions, our culture and our pride. We have to stand and fight and stop the insanity of the current ruling cabal. The dreams of many live in us, we can and must end our centuries of misfortune now. For once, let us have the courage to take a stand against injustices, we have other choices available.
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