The United States has seen last week some ugly violence by people who want to glorify and worship the images of people, places and events whose role are far from positive within the history of the USA. Southern white supremacist pay homage to statutes of men who fought to preserve what perhaps all historians have come to agree is the most vicious and violent episode in the history of the world – slavery.
We, in Guyana, should have a better insight into the danger of hero-worshipping wrong leaders. For over sixty years, Guyanese from both side of the ethnic divide in and out of the territory are tenacious in their belief that Burnham was the greatest hero Guyana produced, while the other half says it is Cheddi Jagan. What is extremely sad is that this binary comes in emotional wrappings; not from aging semi-literate folks who cannot string concepts together, therefore their intellectual limitations make them perpetuate the myths of Burnham and Jagan. It come s from men and women who have university degrees, teach at universities and have written books. When it comes to Burnham and Jagan, they happily throw into the garbage their first rate training and take refuge in the irrational mind.
I was interviewed in May 2015 by an Indian Guyanese writer on the politics of Guyana at that time. While chatting with her, it was clear to me that she sees Guyanese politics through Indian and not scholarly eyes; eyes sympathetic to Cheddi and Janet Jagan. She told me she was doing a biography of Janet Jagan. I immediately told her that is a formidable task because Mrs. Jagan was perhaps the most Stalinist leader this country produced and she has to do deep research.
I have learnt two years after that the book is a saccharine treatment of Mrs. Jagan without even a modicum of proper research. This travesty is a continuing insult to the historiography of this country. There are a dwindling few of us left who see good and bad in both Burnham and Dr Jagan. We are getting on in age and therefore it is an historical and nationalistic obligation to Guyana that younger scholars demolish the myths this binary continues to propagate about the unlimited heroism of Jagan and Burnham.
In this context, Dr. David Hinds’ latest piece yesterday in his column on Burnham needs to be quoted. He wrote; “The second narrative about Burnham is that of the dictator who was impatient with internal democracy and critics of his stewardship and who used the power of the institutions at his disposal to ruthlessly snuff out such dissent. This narrative, while correct, silences Burnham’s attempt at progressive policies and heaps every political sin at his doorstep. The narrative of the dictator is spot on. Burnham’s rule reflected a deep authoritarian instinct in our political culture which was shaped on the very plantation we fought to overthrow. And, because he, Burnham, was not armed with enough of the democratic instinct in our culture which developed on that very plantation, he easily succumbed to the authoritarian instinct. Burnham and many leaders of his generation never learned to resist the urge to use the enormous power at their disposal in personal and partisan ways. They became the party and the party became the State and they eventually became supreme. To ignore that about Burnham is to be dishonest, but to think that that was all that defined him is to be equally dishonest….” (end of quote).
Though what was quoted here has been published several times in the past, this is a fine adumbration of Burnham that is fair. It sees Burnham as a good leader and a bad leader. David is right to call the Indian opinion-maker dishonest if he/she refuses to see the mountain of positive qualities Burnham had. David is right to call the African Guyanese dishonest, if he/she continues to deny that Burnham was a deeply authoritarian soul whose undemocratic balance sheet is as clear as a sunny day.
It is the same with Jagan. He had instincts that drove him to shut out anyone who he thought was intellectually bright and politically smart. It doesn’t need any explanation at all that Jagan and his party were exceptions in world politics in not having an official deputy leader. The whole of Guyana in the eighties knew that Moses Nagamootoo was the rightful inheritor of the leader’s mantle after Jagan went. But Jagan was careful not to name him. Because of that cruel, selfish mentality of Cheddi Jagan, Guyana has been taken down destructive pathways since Jagan’s death.
Jun 18, 2021Kaieteur News – Veteran Guyanese cyclist, Raymond ‘Steely’ Newton, a member of We Stand United Cycle Club is set to compete at New York’s Premiere Professional/Amateur and Community...
Jun 18, 2021
Jun 18, 2021
Jun 18, 2021
Jun 18, 2021
Jun 17, 2021
Kaieteur News – Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has lost power in a confidence motion in which the voting... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]