Every nation has its national heroes and Founding Fathers. It is a part of the process and mystique of nation building and identification.
In a most strange presentation on the history of this country, Mr. David Granger has denied Mr. Burnham, Dr. Jagan, Mr. Critchlow and Mr. A.R.F Webber, their rightful places in the history of the nation and in nation-building.
Most people would contend that the nation has ‘father figures’, whose actions, activities and vision most influenced the nation as we have know it and envision it to be. Most would contend that at least two of the above-mentioned four would qualify for that title.
It is for the PPP and its apologists to deal with Jagan’s role and answer for Jagan.
As far as I am concerned, at a very minimum, Burnham has to be acknowledged as one of the Founding Fathers of this country. The things he did or caused to be done by way of policies, his slogans, priorities and constructs ideological and sectoral, set a tone and placed us on a path that would have been very different if he had not entered politics or if he had migrated, for example.
Whatever one thinks of Burnham’s policies and whatever grouse one may have against him as a person, there can be no doubt as to his influence – for good according to some and for ill according to others. This is understandable in a country with a divided psyche.
No useful historical analysis can ignore his influence.
During his lifetime, Burnham stood head and shoulders above every other politician in Guyana on the policy front and in the international arena as well as on the floor of Parliament where he was unmatched.
In an extreme form of winners’ justice, the PPP continues to seek to displace him by Dr Jagan. In doing so they have to demonise him and steal his achievements but in that effort they have at several points to re-write our history. Even so they cannot deny his influence, however.
Whatever is left after that, his achievements/impact still overshadows all others. That is why we have to have every mischief done by the PPP Governments since 1992 prefaced with, or justified by, ‘28 years of PNC rule’.
In the very region where politicians such as Eugenia Charles and Tom Adams attacked him for his policies, the public, including Dominicans and Barbadians, their own citizens, elected him ‘Man of the Century’ from a field that included Fidel Castro and Michael Manley.
No sensible person can deny Fidel Castro’s role in shaping Cuba as we know it. Few would bother to try. It is another matter to say that we like him. This is what makes Mr. Granger’s effort so dangerous.
Those Granger views of Burnham are especially unorthodox because he is seeking to be elected as Leader of Burnham’s Party, to be one of Burnham’s successors.
His position would have been understandable if he was seeking to be leader of another political Party such as the AFC. Why would an aspiring PNC leader take such a position in a Party still manned by and large by unreconstructed Burnhamites?
Indeed, the battle for the focus on poverty and the small man, the place for Africans Guyanese in the body politic and for the control of our destiny is a battle with a fuse kindled by Burnham.
If it is one thing that is unanimous in the PNCR is that the leadership and membership of the party see him as one of the founding fathers if not the founding father.
One thing is certain, given his theme, Mr. Granger chose the venue for this opening salvo rather well. Many of us are waiting to see how he proposes to sell that assertion in the upcoming PNCR Congress. Is he going to be hypocritical and praise Burnham for the sake of pleasing the members of Burnham’s party?
More importantly, one can only assume that he is proposing to deliver this message to the impending PNCR Biennial Congress later this month at which he will seek to be elected Leader of the PNCR!
In the interim, I call on the Leader of the Party and the General Secretary to say whether they share these views aired by Mr. Granger.
It is useful to underscore here that the idea of the founding father/s is premised on a number of notions. One such notion sees the founding father as one who has a vision as to where the nation should go and succeeded in ensuring that vision impacts the nation’s psyche.
It is apposite to state here that Mr. Granger’s presentation is intellectually flawed in that it avers a thesis that, it is the originators of the struggle that should be considered the founding fathers.
Founding fathers are those individuals that contributed significantly to the formation of the nation. At least Burnham and Jagan should qualify.
Mr. Granger’s analysis also misses the basics in levels of analysis by seeking to find the answer in the wider national struggle rather than focusing on the significant role of the individual to the wider societal struggle.
It must be acknowledged that the struggles of the working people are critical to the struggle for nationhood.
However, to use the struggles of the working people to displace the founding father is to miss the notion of the founding father and to ignore the important role individuals play in the formation of nations.
The approach taken here does not ignore the role of the working class, it merely places the issue of the founding fathers at the individual level where it belongs while recognizing the role of the working class at the wider societal level in the formation of the nation.
It is inconceivable that Mr. Granger could believe that Mr. Burnham is not a founding father and yet he wants to become the Leader of the party Mr. Burnham formed.
Aubrey C. Norton
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