When you teach philosophy, depending on your perspective, you would put more emphasis on one over the other – slavery and the holocaust. Those are the two inexplicable faults in the evolution of human society. I do not know how professors from the developed world contextualize the two in the classroom.
For me, slavery is civilization’s most savage, bestial and inhuman tragedy. There can be no sadder event in human history than slavery.
The observance of emancipation holds significance for every living human wherever they are. It is not about the termination of slavery itself, it is about the ending of an unspeakable tragedy. If a Russian or an Australian or an Italian cannot see the significance of Emancipation Day, every African who is directly descended from the victims of slavery has a special duty to uphold the dignity of their race.
Some Indian rights activists made an opportunistic derision of a statement of mine that came out of one of these columns. I wrote that given how I see the descendants of indentured servants of which, I am one, supporting blindly the excesses of regime simply because that Government’s leadership was made up of almost exclusively Indians, I was ashamed to be East Indian.
Ravi Dev, a few lost souls living in Little Guyana in New York, and others of their ilk, chose to vilify me. They deliberately overlooked the context. I don’t know why they thought their derogation would rattle me. It didn’t and never will.
My point was to Indians then and still is that; we evolved from the undignified world of indentureship and now that we are free to hold our heads very high and given our prodigious achievements in Guyana, then dignity should be our watch world and we should never surrender that dignity on the altar of race and power. Unfortunately, Indians did just that from the time Bharrat Jagdeo took over the PPP.
It should be the same story for African Guyanese. I come now to the title of this column. The Burnham Government knew that it was the Opposition PPP that attacked the toll station on the Corentyne highway, in the process killed one policeman and wounded another. Moreover, indeed, it was the PPP that was responsible with one of the organizers being quite high in the PPP leadership today.
The state charged the wrong man for the shooting; though Arnold Rampersaud was one of demonstrators. The court case took on bizarre dimensions, which led one to believe that the state wanted revenge rather than finding the guilty culprit. Walter Rodney took up the Arnold Rampersaud case and he made a slogan out of it.
Appealing directly to African Guyanese, he told them they emerged from a system that treated their ancestors without dignity and they have a right to protect their dignity by not allowing themselves to hang an innocent man. It was that kind of message from Rodney that saved the life of Rampersaud.
Are African Guyanese in 2018 following the footpath of their Indian counterparts and allowing their dignity to be soiled all because to voice an opinion against the government would be wrong because it is a government t of African leadership?
This is the first Emancipation Day since the removal of David Hinds and Lincoln Lewis as columnists from the Sunday Chronicle. It remains for me the worst and most distasteful mistake of this government.
The dimensions of the Hinds/Lewis imbroglio should have special interest for Africans in Guyana. It wasn’t two brash UG graduates full of arrogance that wrote nonsense in the Chronicle and the government felt they were overbearing. Hinds and Lewis represent some of the best forms of struggle from African Guyanese for the liberation of African Guyanese.
These are not your newcomers who want to have a share of the pie. These are two African Guyanese that would emerge high up if a poll was taken among African Guyanese as to who they think are fighters for the rights of Guyanese as a whole. Their names would be far above many of our African politicians who currently hold power.
I will always mention in these column the question of what Guyanese history would be like if there wasn’t a UG incident in 1974. That was the year, one of the greatest African scholars was denied employment at UG by a government that was a supporter of African liberation.
Suppose that didn’t happen, would we have had the Rodney phenomenon and its sad consequences? Is it possible that Walter Rodney would have settled down as a professor and that would have been the extent of his life in Guyana?
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