“I say again, I am not anti-Democrat, anti-Republican, anti-anything. I am just questioning their sincerity and some of their strategy that they have been using on our people by promising them promises that they don’t intend to keep.”
That was Malcolm X in April 1964 in ruptured, hateful America. And fifty-five years later, in March 2019 in similarly divided and embittered Guyana, those words, with a few minor adaptations to meet local circumstances, still ring true.
Indeed, they ring loud and clear. Citizens, wherever they identify irreversibly, should peer slowly and parse deeply and they will hear, see, and appreciate what has been done to them, what has always been their poignant lot from the minds and at the hands of shrewd, calculating political men and women. There is terrible injury. For when the peoples of this uneasy society should be sailing smoothly forward to embrace its oil blessings, it is back-pedalling determinedly to raise voice and fist in the same old continuum of disemboweling and profaning racial others.
It is palpable how one political person and one political power after another has made “promises that they don’t intend to keep.” Malcolm repeated. They speechify prettily about all Guyana, while knowing full well that there is no will to deliver; no priority to make this one nation, or one of anything, be it people or destiny. For that would be inimical to visions, self-defeating to ambitions, and diminishing to power. But time and again, promise they do through the stockpiles of insincerities, the lengthy litany of racial libels that make liars of them and losers of everyone else.
A vicious circle follows: for having promised and incited, politicians now have to deliver. Whether 50 years ago or five days ago; in the logie or ghetto; bottom house or squatting area; middleclass or educated class, those promises breed hard expectations and selfish priorities.
At the crux, tribal triumphalism brings national defeat. Half wins, the whole falters. Leaders have to deliver on promises; they can do so partway only. Since this is their raison d’être, an invariable searing modus operandi has followed; humanity, integrity, decency, and unity all deplete to the paltry. Cannot be any other way.
And Guyanese political manipulators cannot extricate from the quicksand they manufactured and keep perpetuating; there is neither interest nor will to do so, in spite of all the cheerful talk. Thus, a vicious circle is fostered; it is an unforgiving one.
Both political parties and supporters know that whichever side wins gets to collect most of the marbles. The biggest one is jobs, plum jobs. Prestige and powerful placements and scholarships and house lots form parts of other expectations of those who wait. They are also part of the allure and promise anticipated by supporters, who throw weight and numbers behind the group that would most likely remember colourful presence and work. Those who gain those lucrative appointments can exploit with objectives that are constructive or destructive. For political triumph adds another layer to an already disturbed environment: the politically connected are protected, feel protected, and act like sacred cows. Throughout all of this, leaders march to the charade of One nation, One people, One destiny, while they persist with these sabotaging exercises and deceiving games.
It is about going around and around in the same vicious circle every election cycle. If the spectre of the endgame was not so ominous, this would amuse. A nation goes downward, like a landslide.
This is enough to make incited voters do more than compete; they hate. The intensity of a rivalry made sharper because there is only so much to go around. There has to be those left out and left shorn, sullen, and simmering.
This is the diseased state, the vicious circle created by local politics. The readily crafty and untroubled political players have zero qualms cultivating the venal, the bigot, the anarchist, and the radical to their fold. The antagonistic circle envelops.
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