Being a Guyanese is a matter of pride. We have so much to be thankful for, but many of us simply keep griping about something or the other. Even when things are going our way we gripe.
I remember the story of a man who always kept a jolly exterior. When someone confronted him about something that went wrong he would say, “It could have been worse.”
One day a friend called him to say that another friend was killed in a man’s home and he named the killer. This supreme optimist merely said, “It could have been worse.”
The friend turned to him and asked, “What could have been worse?”
The optimist said I could have been in that man’s home if my wife did not accompany me to work this morning.”
Friday was a day that could have been worse had the police not responded to a report of a robbery on D’Urban Street. Two gunmen chose the middle of the morning to attack a business place just as the proprietor was setting up shop.
The proprietor appears to be known for the jewellery he wears, so the two gunmen decided that the man’s jewellery was theirs. They decided to rob him. For the businessman it could have been worse. He could have been shot.
There was a quick police response that caused one of the gunmen to flee, but the other was obsessed with the man’s jewellery, so he fought with the businessman. He went for his gun and as they used to say in the West, fast draw does not always win. The businessman reached for his weapon and killed the gunman.
What followed was what leaves many communities shocked. Innocent people also get killed under such conditions. The police pursued the fleeing gunman who knew the Bent Street area and disappeared. However, he did not bargain for the perseverance of the police. They scoured the area.
Meanwhile, the gunman managed to enter a home and take the residents hostage. He had some time to treat a gunshot wound he sustained while fleeing. However, he did not bargain for people directing the police. He will not live to rob again.
What I found rather disturbing is the trend of people who seem bent on robbing. They get money but they do not use that money for security. For them life is one big party. Easy come, easy go. Then they rob again.
A report stated that the now dead gunman who was killed in Bent Street had executed another robbery on East Coast Demerara, in the process relieving a security guard of his weapon. That was the weapon he used in the D’Urban Street robbery.
When the Chinese Government donated a fleet of vehicles to the Guyana Police Force, Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan spoke of heightened patrols in the city which far outranked any other area where crime was concerned. Those patrols are paying off.
But even as the police have stepped up their patrols, the United States has placed Guyana’s crime rate at a critical level. This would suggest that crime has got out of hand. Such a report would prevent people in the diaspora from coming home for some much needed rest and relaxation. They believe the worse about their country.
Yet as I sit in Guyana I see murders galore in the very United States. Just Friday another gunman killed nearly a dozen children attending school. This type of killing seems to be very common. Already for this year I have known of another even more deadly. I cannot say that crime is at a critical level in that country.
Unlike Trinidad and Tobago where jobs are not at a premium, or better, where people want special jobs and rather than take what is on offer they choose to remain idle or to go with the gun, Guyana is offering many jobs to young people.
I chatted with a company that has been in Guyana for the past five years but which remained below the radar. That company reached into the University of Guyana, the Government Technical Institute and the Carnegie School of Home Economics for young people. All told more than one hundred young people have joined the labour force.
There are some other young people who have joined the labour force, but this is not known, because in Guyana there is no survey that keeps tabs on unemployment. I am certain that the unemployment rate has dropped significantly. The result is that there are fewer young people who would need to turn to crime.
There is also more money in the system, so business should not be as bad as some would like to make out. But people should move away from walking around with loads of cash. That is a magnet for criminals.
For one, the business place would not have a lot of cash around, so there is going to be no attraction for gunmen. The credit card is becoming increasingly pervasive so there should be fewer robberies. Before long, there would be no place for the gunmen.
But what do parents tell their growing children. On Friday after one of the gunmen was killed in the business place, his sisters and relatives turned up weeping. Again I must wonder how it was that they knew so quickly that their relative was killed, even when the police on the ground had no name to go with.
It has to be that someone knew the gunman and called the relatives. This tells me that whenever there is a robbery there are people who know the perpetrators. One aunt was heard screaming, “Ow Buddha.” Did she ever advise him against a life of crime?
There is the belief that whenever a big event looms the gunmen would come out. It is said that they want money to participate in the events. Last year and even the year before, there were not too many crimes. I think the trend would continue this year.
At the same time, I wish people would recognize that they have only one life and that they should do nothing to put that life on the line.
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