I went home and told my wife about this stranger who approached me on Tuesday and what he said. She asked what his tone was like. I told her not friendly, not unfriendly. Now that I am writing about him, I would say his tone was modestly uneasy. He was not rude, but he was not ready to cheer me on.
I was coming out of the DSL supermarket at the junction of Railway Embankment and Sheriff Street. As I exited the door, I saw this gentleman emerge from a vehicle that looked expensive. East Indian with graying hair like mine, about my age, but a few inches taller than me, he said without even an infinitesimal smile, “Freddie I never met you, but I always said if I ever did I would ask you something that I am curious about.” I reacted; “And what would that be?” He responded; “From the way you write, you come across as knowledgeable about Guyanese politics, how come you couldn’t see through Ramjattan and Trotman?”
Our conversation was fleeting, because there was no answer to his question. I smiled and said, “Man, you never know people you think you know, but I do have my regrets.”
With those words, I politely walked toward my car, and he went his way without saying anything. I don’t know if down the years I will remember his face, but he asked a question that countless persons have put to me since the AFC came to power in 2015, but they never put it the way he did – how come I couldn’t see what Khemraj Ramjattan and Raphael Trotman were like?
You honestly cannot see the true nature of humans until they have power. I am going to vote for Lenox Shuman’s Liberal and Justice Party. I want to deny most emphatically, majority rule by the PPP or APNU+AFC. I don’t know anything about the life and times of Lenox Shuman. I am voting for him to topple majority rule, just like how my buddy friend, Charrandass Persaud, voted to topple the APNU+AFC regime.
Suppose Shuman joins a minority government and gives them majority status? I don’t know that. I cannot deny him my vote because he is a bad man. I have no evidence that he is a bad man. He may turn out to be a terrible politician. But at this moment, I cannot withhold my vote from him. People get into power and they change. I was an emaciated, starving guy from south Georgetown when I met Clive Thomas at an organization formed in Tiger Bay, named Movement Against Oppression (MAO – deliberate acronym after the name of the Chinese revolutionary leader, Mao Tse Tung).
I became closer to Clive Thomas when I entered UG and joined the WPA. I was even a research assistant to Thomas. I came to admire Thomas throughout my life. His party came to power and I anticipated the radical economist I knew since the seventies would revolutionize post- PPP governance in my country.
Thomas is a shameless apologist for neo-liberal policies of the government. I don’t admire him anymore (more on him and Rupert Roopnaraine in another column).
I chose to support the AFC over the PPP and PNC because their credentials were impressive. Both Ramjattan and Trotman rebelled and rejected the old culture of both parties. The AFC was not grounded in ethnic politics and appealed to the imagination of the Guyanese people. I was oppressed terribly by the PPP cabals; they even dragged my wife into their den of victimization.
I knew there were things I didn’t like in the AFC. It had a shameless elitist middle class leadership. But I saw the bigger picture. The AFC took me on an atavistic journey back in time with the WPA. The WPA in the seventies had a shameless, elitist middle class leadership never seen before in Guyana, maybe with the exception of the League of Coloured People. But I was concerned with the bigger picture – revolutionary politics against a post-colonial autocracy.
I would not have joined the WPA if Burnham wasn’t so authoritarian. He and he alone decided what was best for Guyana. Burnham victimized me and my wife. Entry into the WPA was a logical choice. Jagdeo and Ramotar victimized me and my wife. Entry into the AFC was a logical choice. The AFC got into power and the masks fell from the faces of Ramjattan and Trotman, and David Patterson that was a personal friend. I couldn’t see the deadly instincts in these men before 2015. I wished I had. But life goes on. It must.
(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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