The private sector is becoming jumpy over nothing. The “war-break’ remark by the Minister of Finance has sent shivers down the spines of elements within the local business community.
These elements are afraid that the comment could incite or be wrongly interpreted as a sanction for violent action. And since political violence has historically targeted the business community, they are afraid that they can become the victims of political and criminal violence.
A former Member of Parliament has said that the ‘war break’ comments could drive fear into local business persons. He also stated that the ‘war break’ comments could also drive fear among workers in those environs, create fear among public transportation operators, cause fear amongst school children and their parents and fear among the general population.
He went on to add that the comments could be used as a pretext by those hell bent on rioting and engaging in destructive conduct.
It could also, he says, be interpreted as a political directive to create mayhem. The concerns are understandable given Guyana’s torrid political past when protestors needed no provocation to burn, loot, mug, rape and rob.
However, there is no need for any serious concerns over the comments by the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance is a harmless fellow. He is as gentle as a lamb, incapable of hurting even an ant. He is not a political rabble rouser. He therefore meant no harm.
What then did the Minister mean by the “war break?” The Minister belongs to the older generation. His childhood would have proceeded the era of video games. In his childhood, children played various outdoor games – “Cowboys and outlaws” was one of them; “police and thief” was another. The girls also had their imaginary games such as “Dolly House”.
In the “Cowboys and Outlaws” game, one set of boys would play the cowboys and the other set would be the outlaws. Or the game could simply be between one set of cowboys and another. The objective was to try to win the game by downing the eliminating members of the opposing team or opponent.
How this happened was that if you were able to fire an imaginary shot at your opponent within a clear sight and with no obstruction between you and him, then that person was said to be “killed” and had to retire from the game.
There were no real guns or weapons. Boys used toy guns or any makeshift object such as a short piece of wood which could imitate a gun. When you saw your opponent in the open you would begin to make the sound of gunfire; “Bow! Bow! Bow!” The person would playact that they were hit and killed.
There were certain rules of course. You could not hit a moving target. Once your opponent is moving, then he could not be killed. Another was that if your enemy was behind an obstacle, your imaginary shots could not ‘hit’ that person unless more than half of his body was exposed.
The persons declaring the commencement of the “hostilities” would shout “War break!” This was the signal that the game had commenced. This was a popular game for the children of the poor because their parents could not afford to buy expensive toys.
The young people of today do not know about “Cowboys and Outlaws” or “Police and Thief” or “Dolly House”. They know about video games and on-line games and reality games. They know about Gameboy, PlayStation and X Box. Nobody plays “war break any more.
And perhaps the danger in that battle cry of “war break” is the younger generation persons may misinterpret it.
But one must also understand that the Minister may have merely been suggesting that with the decision of the CCJ, the political games were about to begin, putting the APNU+AFC against the PPPC and ANUG and the Liberty Party.
The Minister was a product of that age when boy played imaginary games of “Cowboys and Outlaws.” He could hardly be seen a rabble rouser. He does not have that sort of expertise.
People should not get worried about what he said. In any event, people are long past that era when they could be intimated by PNCR street protests.
If, however, the private sector is worried about the Minister’s comments, they should launch their own peaceful protest. They should ask their colleagues to have a Day of Rest where they close their businesses for one workday as a protest against what they see as an irresponsible statement which threatens their existence.
The private sector however will never agree to that. Not as long as there is money to be made. And not as long as they can be a cry-a-babies!
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