A friend of David Granger, who was close to him during QC school days, is visiting. The gentleman is someone I knew many, many moons ago and one whom I personally like because of his good character. It is unfortunate people like him left these shores so long ago.
We sat down to lunch at Roti Hut last Tuesday. I declined a meal and opted for a small tub of sugar free ice cream. He chose two Chinese cakes and two bottles of imported water. I did enquire why foreign water. It was a three-hour session in which so many, many dimensions and nuances of Guyanese history, sociology and politics were discussed.
His priority questions, whenever we meet for lunch, are my thoughts of the power leadership.
This time, my views were more crystallized than the last time we chatted. With the stroke of a pen, I dismissed the Granger administration as a failure, one that is incapable of lifting this country to greater heights of moral reclamation, democratic elevation, social purification and economic vision.
As I spoke, he intercepted me; “But he is a decent man,” referring to Granger. My response was automatic; “Yes.” Then the academic in me took over. I indicated that Jagan, his wife, Janet, and Sam Hinds were decent people too. Before I could finish, he said he meant decency in the sense of not going in the gutter, the way Jagdeo did and doing socially distasteful things.
I agreed but was not comfortable with the banal definition of decency. I wanted to deconstruct the meaning of decency for him but then he himself gave me an opportunity by explaining why he doesn’t consider Sam Hinds a decent gentleman. He said he knew Hinds up close and personal. Then Hinds became Prime Minister.
One day, Hinds was visiting a foreign country and when this man greeted Hinds, Hinds looked straight through him and didn’t recognize at him at all. He felt that Hinds was pretending.
Now if that attitude is a criterion he finds useful in assessing the character of a leader, I can come to the identical conclusion about David Granger.
Every hot season (July to September which Guyanese refer erroneously refer to as summer; we don’t have a summer season here), David Hinds visits his homeland. For three consecutive years, we attended David Granger’s birthday at Congress Place. On each occasion, Granger came up to our table and greeted us. It was never a packed affair.
When Granger became president in 2015, he celebrated his birthday at Camp Ayanganna.
I was not invited. Buddy Shivraj was. All these years of studying politics, I wasn’t aware that David Granger knew Buddy Shivraj.
How do you define decency?
The word certainly needs to be deconstructed. It is a very complex definition that will never find consensus among learned debaters. Really, what is decency? Marxist philosophy offers a useful guide at arriving at these esoteric conclusions.
A Marxist would argue that exploitation of labour is a crime against humanity. It follows from the emphasis of that aspect of human character that an employer cannot be decent if he exploits labour.
I doubt that modern philosophers still accept the traditional definition of decency. There is no scope in a newspaper column of 800 words to deconstruct the meaning of decency.
What I will do in the remaining paragraphs is to offer my thoughts of the character make-up of Granger. If I am in a situation like last Tuesday, and I was asked the same question, I wouldn’t give a monosyllabic as an answer as I did.
I would opt to use angles rather than answers. I judge David Granger as an honest leader in the context of state resources.
The operative word here is –incorruptibility. Mr. Granger seems not to be attractive to an extravagant life style and personal ostentations. On the level of civilized behaviour, Mr. Granger has some pleasing and satisfactory values.
In terms of the philosophical use of power to liberate people and nation in a transformative way without deception, secrecy and conspiracy, David Granger has no grades from me and if I were to offer a mark the way teachers do, it will be Fail grade.
There are too many decisions and pathways of President Granger that I find deceptive and driven by narrow power considerations. Some of his explanation I do not accept because they are not factually rich in context. I went at length to explain to my friend as I ate my ice cream that I do not accept Mr. Granger’s explanation as to the reason for his one-week check up in Trinidad.
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