A man dies. His story left untold. Life goes on. But the pen is mightier than the sword. The pen can tell the story that is still to be told. Courtney Crum-Ewing’s journey must be recorded. I didn’t know Courtney well. We met after some of us joined his one-man picket outside the Office of the Attorney-General directed against Anil Nandlall over the tape scandal.
There are things you can tell about someone if you are experienced and your praxis is eternal. Courtney Crum-Ewing came across as someone deeply anguished by the abuse of power. Unlike most of the anti-dictatorship people that are currently fighting for democracy in Guyana, he seemed impatient. He seemed that he wanted to hasten the struggle to remove the authoritarian system.
But there was an esoteric contradiction in his personality. He didn’t come across as emotional at all. This is a contradiction difficult to understand, because most human rights crusaders are passionate people with a tendency to show emotions.
I could well have imagined him discussing in the calmest of manners, violations committed against him, displaying no anger, betraying no emotions. When he told me about a certain policeman in the Brickdam station trying to pursue a trumped up charge against him, he was just nonchalant about it. Most activists would have reserved a few harsh words for the police officer.
Why was Courtney Crum-Ewing assassinated? You can break it down to several factors but there is one conceptual framework only – powerful dictators cut him down to send a message. The message was clear in how he was killed. Crum-Ewing died while he was directly involved in an act of struggle. He was urging residents of Diamond to vote in the general elections and to do so against the PPP. My take on his death was that while he was pursuing his political activity, a telephone call was made. The order was then given to kill him.
If it wasn’t Courtney Crum-Ewing, it would have been someone else, because a message had to be sent. That message was graphically portrayed in the image of the dead man lying next to his bullhorn. When I saw that image I thought of the bestial days of apartheid, the cruel times of Latin American military dictatorships and the brutal era of African and Asian dictatorships in the immediate post-colonial period.
As you gazed at that hideous sight, your heart fell, because you know Guyana is moving inevitably to its final collapse. Fools and propagandists will posit that the establishment did not kill Crum-Ewing. But since history began, dictators never acknowledged that they killed anyone.
Courtney Crum-Ewing was brutally gunned down in the Diamond Housing Scheme where he lived, as he urged his fellow Guyanese to go out on Election Day and vote the PPP out of power, but the people who killed him will scandalize him as the days go by. We will hear that he was a victim of personal vendetta. He will see blame being put on the opposition, in that it was an opposition act so the Government can look bad.
We will read that he was involved in questionable things.
This is what is overbearing about dictatorship. A patriot is murdered by tyrants and even in death his name is desecrated. But here is where the moving pen comes in. Those who struggled with Courtney Crum-Ewing, those who admire his work, those who are revolted by his assassination, must expose his murderers.
We must not be intimidated. In adopting fear, we will willingly open the flood gates so that other Crum-Ewings can be murdered.
Courtney Crum-Ewing was assassinated because power-drunk rulers in the tragic land feared his activism, feared his bravery, and sent out a message that those who want to be brave like Crum-Ewing will be dealt with.
Bob Marley wrote in his powerful, moving, phenomenal composition, “Redemption Song,” the following words, “How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look.” The people of this country have to put an end to these killings that started with Walter Rodney, took the life of Ronald Waddell and now Courtney Crum-Ewing.
Guyana has to reclaim its lost civilization. It can start by using the body of Courtney Crum-Ewing as the rampart which it must use to confront and remove the people who killed this courageous, brave nationalist who stood up fearlessly to the brutal dictatorship that has virtually reduced this country to a 10th rate nation.
The Guyanese people must not be afraid to denounce the killers of Courtney Crum-Ewing. Their silence will pave the way for others to be murdered before the ballots are counted on May 12.
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