I had three chances of settling comfortably in another country that was and is far more developed, more comfortable, far more civilized, far more stable, peaceful and rational than Guyana is. In the process, I have dragged my wife with me into the permanency of Guyanese residence. Because I chose not to leave, my only child is Guyanese.
Of course, I love Guyana, but in abstraction. I have no psychic explanation, and I doubt there can ever be one, as to why I stayed when the disappearing land was in front of me. I have no one in Guyana except the woman I dragged back with me, and the daughter I fathered with her. Relatives and friends are all gone. My wife’s siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends are all gone.
If I had the chance to enter a time machine and go back to younger days and sit right in the middle of the sinking ship, would I have taken up rescue and acceptance to be exiled? I don’t know, but deep in my mind I think I would have refused. I am a Caribbean man.
When I started teaching philosophy at UG and saw right in front of my eyes that students had no knowledge who Sigmund Freud was; why slavery into the New World is the worst thing to have happened in civilization; why western values continue to dominate the world after thousands of years, then I knew my place was in this country.
It doesn’t mean that I appreciate Guyana. I don’t. This is an extremely sad place and a deeply tragic land that has no parallel elsewhere on the global map. I cannot think of another country where spirit and humanity are completely absent.
I cannot think of another nation that is not living under a brutal dictatorship where people are jailed, tortured and killed, that can be so psychically destroyed that fear and sheepishness are deeply embed in their psychology. I cannot think of another society where the young people are so empty, ignorant, uncaring, un-philosophical, and downright resigned to living in a lost land.
I cannot believe that another country on Planet Earth, except Guyana, there can be a university campus where the young population and the academics are so brutally uninterested in the violations, cruelties and injustices that dominate their country. It is nihilism beyond belief.
Today is fifty years of republicanism in this country, and as a trained academic, I will confront and challenge any other fellow academic to paint a positive portrait in those 50 years. Whenever Independence and republicanism anniversaries come around and my topic has to be on those twin subjects, I think of the city of Dresden in Germany. The human mind cannot arrive at an explanation for the juxtaposition of Dresden and Guyana.
For the third time in my newspaper commentaries that have being going on for 31 years, I will offer the example of Dresden, to prove that Guyana does not exist.
As Germany faced defeat, the Allies, in World War Two, literally reduced Dresden to ashes. It was a bombed out city with nothing standing. 30 years after the war ended, that is 1975, Dresden became one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Today Dresden is one of the world’s post-modern structures.
How can a piece of earth rise up to that level, yet 50 years after republican status simple street lights and traffic lights cannot work continuously for one straight month in Guyana? Whenever I do an analysis on the anniversary of Independence and republican status, I think of something my eyes were opened up to by my good friend, Colin Smith, editor of the Catholic Standard.
We were on the deck of the ferry, returning from Berbice to Georgetown years ago, discussing how shambolic was the administration of the ferry system. Colin said that in the 1950s, British Guiana had a GDP and GNP higher than Singapore and Malaysia. I couldn’t face him, because of what I perceived was the absurdity he uttered.
After gazing into the river, I looked directly at him and said, ‘You know what you are talking about? Two of the top countries in the world, billions of miles ahead of Guyana, are Singapore and Malaysia’. With a thin smile, he told me to check it out. I did. It is painfully true.
I went to UG from 1974-1978 and studied in darkness at home due to blackouts. Blackouts have pursued and plagued me since then. No country can have electricity disruption for 46 continuous years. But Guyana has. But then again, this is a joke, because a country named Guyana does not exist in the real world.
(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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