The PNC had a reputation, when it was previously in power, at being very adept at putting on a good show. If it did nothing else properly, the PNC used to be good at doing this. It was first-rate when it came to putting on a show – be it Mass Games or the People’s Parade. It was equally brilliant at putting on a side show.
When the economy hit rock bottom, the PNC needed a side show to divert attention from the crisis in the country. It organized a massive keep-fit campaign in the country. You had one minister doing stretches even when he was in the washroom. The people forgot their problems and the weight came off literally.
That art of putting on a show seems to be slipping from the reach of the PNC. This year is supposed to be the year of “big shows’ but it seems as if the PNC is intending to turn it into the year of the no-show.
So far two major events have been organized by the government to mark Guyana’s fiftieth birthday. The first was supposed to be on New Year’s Eve when there was to be a big concert at the Square of the Revolution complete with a massive fireworks display. The ships were supposed to honk their horns in the harbour. The church bells were supposed to peal. There was to be a grand fireworks display. Many persons cancelled their plans for Old Year’s Night just to be able to go and see the fireworks.
The announcement came on the morning of December 31. The show was still on, but out of a deep concern for the animals in the zoo and the birds that nest at the back of the Botanic Gardens, the fireworks display was going to be on the seawall instead.
The show was a big flop. It was a disaster. As for the fireworks, that turned out to be a damp squib, the weakest fireworks display ever in Guyana. Even the kids who were shooting off their “flares” put on a better exhibition. The harbour was quiet and the church bells did not chime. The event was a massive public relations failure on the part of the government.
The next time was expected to be better. When it comes to putting on a show, the PNC would not fail twice. The next event was Republic Day. The PNC government turned one of the green areas of Georgetown – a jungle under the PPP – into a drill square. There was little green to be seen, except for those who wore the traditional colours of APNU. For a government which is promoting a green economy, what the PNC did to Durban Park was in direct contradiction to its plan for a green economy.
The issue of whether Georgetown or Guyana needed a drill square can be debated on another occasion. Guyanese in their numbers – said to be the largest crowd ever assembled at the Square of the Revolution – turned up to see what was to be the largest flag in the country hoisted onto what was said to be the tallest flagpole in the country, one that was first given at 200 feet then scaled down to one hundred and eighty feet.
The big flag went up. It was announced early in the day that it would stay up. The Guyanese people roared with delight. Some people cried.
The flag did not steal the show. It was the only show. The military parade was uninspiring. But there was still the big flag which one man said you could see from the moon.
Persons who could not make it to the flag-raising began to hatch plans to come to see this big flag. It was said that people as far as Lethem were planning to make the journey.
Then a strange thing happened. The flag which was supposed to stay up permanently seemed to shrink. It got smaller. Or is it that it was replaced by another, smaller flag. The flag that is presently flying on the flagpole cannot be 65 feet by 35 feet.
Nobody is saying anything, but it looks like we have another foul-up somewhere. Where is the big flag that was supposed to be a tourist attraction all year round?
The PNC’s slip is showing, and more than its slip too.
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