I met my wife in the throes of the Walter Rodney revolution in 1978. I was in my final year at UG and the Walter Rodney bandwagon was in tempestuous confrontation with the Forbes Burnham presidency. Conveniently, for the blossoming of the romance, my wife and I shared the same taste in literature and music.
She liked the novels of Harold Robbins immensely, so one day in 1978 before we got married, we went to Astor to see “The Adventurers”. The theme of the “The Adventurers” was not the kind of stuff you wanted to introduce your girlfriend to if you yourself were preaching revolution. The end of the movie was particularly jolting.
As the revolutionary battle raged in the streets, the dictator was toppled and his successor walked into the palace and proclaimed victory. Then as the revolutionary cadres brought one of the captured bureaucrats from the old regime before him for punishment, the new President, still in battle clothes, shouted, “Get him out of my palace.”
There and then the moral of the story was flashed across the screen – a tyrant is overthrown by a revolution which will soon morph into a dictatorship and the cycle goes on.
As the pattern of dictatorship and revolution goes on, the words of the 18th century philosopher, Edmund Burke, are still there to remind us that the revolutionary break with tradition brings terror.
We in Guyana have our “Adventurers.” The first two revolutionaries in post-independent Guyana were a dentist named Cheddi Jagan and his wife, Janet. In 1970, the two brought a school of young protégés into Freedom House to make the revolution against the Burnham Government.
Many of those names are still with us – Rohee, Teixeira, Feroze Mohamed, Ralph Ramkarran, Kellawan Lall, Clinton Collymore, Navin Chandarpal and his wife Indra, Komal Chand.
These were the “rebels” depicted in Robbins’ novel. They traveled to countries where other freedom fighters were waiting to make their evolution. They embraced the Black Power leaders in the US, shook hands with Nelson Mandela and had Palestinian fighters as friends. Cheddi Jagan forced them to read Che Guevara and Franz Fanon and to idolize Fidel Castro and Vladimir Lenin. Cheddi Jagan’s vanguardists finally made the revolution in 1992 when the world turned against the authoritarian order.
Fast forward the reel to 2012 at the Pegasus Hotel on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Guyana. Memories of The Adventurers, Batista in Cuba, Somoza in Nicaragua, the Shah in Iran, come crashing down in front of you. These were so-called tyrants that were to be violently overthrown and were overthrown.
And as the sun shone on the face of the revolution, the ghosts of Edmund Burke and Harold Robins appeared – revolution had failed and the old despots have been replaced by younger ones who like Samuel Doe in Liberia will be hunted down by newer romanticists and have their ears cut off as the rebels did to Doe.
Poor Mr. Badal! Harold Robbins’s revolutionaries who are Cheddi Jagan’s children told him that his hotel’s sewer pipes have to be removed because it is in their way. Badal spoke up too much. Badal was too harsh on the Cheddi’s revolutionaries. With no place to put the feces, it will have to sail on top of the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
A High Court judge has come to his rescue and offered a temporary stay to the flow of the feces. Badal may go on Amazon.com and order “The Adventurers.” Badal should call me. I could lend him a few books on Edmund Burke.
Poor Lincoln Lewis! His college will have to turn its back on the thousands of south Georgetown youths that sought a post-secondary education in the pursuit of a dream. Weren’t it for these dreams revolution was made by Castro and Cheddi’s protégés?
Poor Mark Benschop! It wasn’t Batista or Somoza or the Shah that put him in prison. It was the revolutionaries in Cheddi Jagan’s home.
Poor Raphael Trotman! His elected Parliament is frowned upon by the rebels who overthrew tyrants because they wanted a democratic Parliament.
Did Cheddi read “The Adventurers?” He probably did and said to himself the words he told Yesu Persaud – “Why talk about changing the 1980 Constitution? Can you see me becoming a dictator?” Well, he didn’t live long enough to become a dictator, but his underlings have. And the cycle of rebels replacing despots then turning into tyrants themselves will go on. Shakespeare is worth quoting, “Oh judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason”.
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