I was born into a family where diversity was phenomenal. My parents were practicing Hindus. My father played tassa drums at Hindu weddings. The first sibling went to Linden and took up with an African bauxite worker and fathered a kid for him.
The second sibling went deeply into Creole culture. He was a calypsonian, footballer and professional boxer, thus the name Lightweight Kissoon. I am referring to my brother, Harold. He married an African girl from Lodge in South Georgetown. The third sibling, Marjorie, went into the Catholic Church. The next sibling, Janet, married an African gentleman from Barbados. The next sister married another Afro-Bajan.
I was the last of seven. I married a Muslim woman. Three influential persons in my life were Portuguese – Jehovah’s Witness, Fred Philips; UG professor history, and Catholic nun, Mary Noel Menezes; and Jesuit priest and newspaper editor, Father Andrew Morrison. Hindu devotee and businessman, Yesu Persaud, is one of my heroes.
Against this multi-racial, multi-cultural background, I never had time or gave any consideration to the role and importance of ethnic values in society. I really didn’t care who was brown, yellow, white or black. Race faded from my memory when I left UG and went to foreign universities. By the time I left the University of Toronto and went to work for the Grenadian government, I had lost any trace of what ethnicity meant to the human soul.
My multi-cultural, multi-racial sojourns in life saved me from the Mephistophelean waltz that had taken over the Guyanese psyche. This is a country, long before white supremacy took hold of the imagination of countless Americans after the triumph of Trump, where diabolical minds were spouting the worst kinds of ethnic semantics. It has never stopped.
Guyana may have the worst kinds of racists among countries torn apart by ethnic rivalry. I find in this country the most racist bigots accuse others of being racist. I have met countless East Indians who quickly roll off their tongues the names of Black politicians from across the divide who they think are ethnic supremacists. I would tell them that they support an Indian party with Indian leaders, and if that does not create the suspicion that they too are supremacist thinkers.
Likewise I meet many African Guyanese who nurture in their souls the sentiment that the PPP is an Indianised racist party. And these very persons are emotional defenders of the government which, in their minds, represents African Guyanese. In other words, they inject the race factor in their defence of the current administration and refuse to acknowledge it.
I am left confused of course. Not that the confusion is deep. In fact it is superficial, because I know about the inherent flaws of Homo sapiens. If anything in the 21st century has exposed and had laid bare the racial determinants in the minds of Guyanese, is the coming into power of the PNC in 2015 and also the no-confidence vote.
When the PPP was in office, I rubbed shoulders in the picket line with people whose willingness to denounce the PPP policy-makers as racist was almost fanatical. I joined a picket line outside the Chronicle that included Gerhard Ramsaroop, in vehement denunciation of a racist editorial in the Chronicle. Today, the shoe is on the other foot, but when I look over my shoulder in the picket line, I am alone.
I met this African rights woman and her husband who I became close to during our constant protest against the PPP government at the first Cabinet retreat at Square of the Revolution a few months ago. She said she knows an African journalist who was discriminated against by her Indian boss because of her race, and solicited my support.
She made no mention of Vishnu Persaud who lost his job at GECOM in preference to an African Guyanese that the Ethnic Relations Commission found was given preference over Persaud, though Persaud possessed higher qualifications and more relevant experience. Her husband was looking at me, anticipating what I was about to say, and with a tiny smile took his wife’s hand and walked away with a friendly parting of words. This is Guyana for you. This is the waltz of Mephistopheles.
Not one, I repeat, not one soul in this country has chastised GECOM Commissioner and WPA executive, Desmond Trotman, for a fulmination against a mixed race Guyanese businessman, Gerry Gouveia, that had disturbing racist overtones.
Gouveia chastised GECOM’s Chief Election Officer on his embarkation of house to house registration. Trotman deemed Gouveia’s action as a Portuguese who wants to bring back the domination of the white man. Guyana has sold its soul to Mephistopheles.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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