There were more than a few plastered in the press. The picture that painted the Guyana that is; and which should compel all Guyanese – leaders and citizens – as to the raw realities of this land. There is so much to do. If only we would try.
There is so much that could have been done with the many monies spent. It is pointless to look back as to where the cash went and who benefited the most. That is gone and this much could be said with authority: the regular citizens, those who need the facilities – here and there in town and country and elsewhere – did not benefit as they should have. Thus, they struggle with tight and narrow confines, the less than safe, the more than angering facilities from the hands of leaders. The latest case in point should help to illustrate beyond any doubt.
It arrived in the predawn hours. It was a vessel unseen in its waywardness and unseeing of what stood in its passage. The Demerara Harbour Bridge did not move. But it buckled under the crashing weight of tons of out-of-control steel. And when the Harbour Bridge buckled, it also took thousands of daily Guyanese commuters to their knees, too. Their wheels were rendered unmoving; no place to move; no alternative to explore and escape the crush and clamour and cramp. As the weary and worn clamber for footing at rickety travel points, their leaders, due a kick in the derrière, clamour and clash over what degrades and divides.
The little people had their feet (and their children and haversacks and attachments of the day). Look at those pictures in the press again: their feet can carry them only so far, only so painfully slowly. It was many huge clots of massed humanity. And of endless, heaving, harried flows of people going to work, to the first day of school, to the commerce of the day. They do so against the universal backdrop of ceaseless brawling in the political heights. As they brawl to their heart’s content, the limitations of transportation point an accusing fist at their puniness, their pathetic leadership presences. So much more could have been done with what came our way. That was yesterday.
The new day was that picture of crafts plying the river; tiny dolphins racing back and forth to load up and then deposit its human cargo in one uninterrupted stream throughout the day. The crowds painted a portrait that should shame all self-respecting leaders. Surely, we can do better than this? Surely, we could have done better with the billions (in US, no less) that came and were gone. Just like that.
Oh, but we argue like intoxicated, enraged addicts lost in the hazes of our own priorities and our own importance. It is just another day in Guyana; one more in the eternity of decades that saw spending but no building; and planning but for anything but constructive building for the people. Erecting monuments of infrastructure that speak to the unselfish visions of leaders and supporting casts.
Among the pictures, there was one powerful portrait. It was profound in its ordinariness, its great testimony to the patience and piteous nature of the Guyanese peoples, who surrender to one political injustice after another, era after era. That picture was of a gaggle of travelers climbing up a stairway at the Stelling. It was of less of a climb and more of a crawl, on hands and knees (almost), before the woeful works of wretched leaders, who boast of superior achievements to great applause.
That stairway in that Stelling reminds all, who come near it, of the crude, almost vulgar, dismissal delivered to followers and voters, citizens and comrades, public and passersby: here is a gift for you, compliments of one government after another. Take it. Be thankful. Be joyful.
The strapped, stressed, and surly travellers to and from the West Demerara might as well come to their senses. Like all Guyana, this is what and how much they matter in the consciousness and calculations of their own comrades. As local leaders bicker and plot, the poor Guyanese man and woman (and child) are forced to plot their own path, however they can to wherever it takes them. After all the talking and cheering and supporting, the regular man is on his own.
Look at that stairway (and others) in this hamlet of an existence. It is remote-looking, ancient in appearance, and totally inadequate and unsatisfactory, by any standards of respectable civilization. It is amidst these reminders of a slippery, shallow, sickly existence, that political men fight and maul each other. It is over the expected floods of money to come. They claw at, climb over, and count out each other through the ugly and bizarre and castrating. This land is the one castrated. Of course, all of this is couched in glorious citations of Constitution and concerns for the people.
The people are still wondering if a barge did hit them repeatedly over those years. There are the bruises and wounds of hopes dashed and the failures that flourished. Nowadays, the words and postures from perpetual political disappointments are of who is going to do more with whatever money marches towards Guyana. More for the masses (how much of it?). More for modernity (how about a real Stelling?). More for making the Magnificent Province truly magnificent (how about sincere transformational leadership?).
The Demerara Harbour Bridge and the accompanying travails emphasize how much those are lacking. As for the disputes and arguments, they emphasize this eerie promise: how we might still be in the same place after all that oil has come and gone. A lot of money did come before. What is there to show for it? The picture of that Stelling should guide towards incontestable answers.
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