I am in my late sixties and my life has seen only three dimensions – educational security, marital infrastructure and political praxis. Of the first one, my family never had the resources to enable me to make high school. I studied privately for my GCEs, passed and never looked back. My educational journey ended at the University of Toronto in the doctor of philosophy programme. Service in the Grenadian government of Maurice Bishop prevented me from completing my dissertation.
I married my girlfriend, Janet, in 1978, and our marriage has been constant but punctuated with large periods of nightmarish and disastrous journeys. Don’t raise your eyebrows. Those nightmares and disasters were not about the essence of my marriage, but about the third dimension of my existence – political struggle.
If my wife was not a unique woman, my marriage would have been buried in obscurity decades ago. This is because the third dimension of my ontology has virtually determined my existence on Planet Earth.
I know no other life but the tumultuous, dangerous world of Guyanese politics. It began when I was sixteen and it hasn’t stopped since then. But what I have seen in March 2020 in my country had led me to ask myself – has my praxis failed over these five decades?
The chronicle of my struggles for justice and freedom in Guyana would take definitely more than one volume of my memoirs. Will I ever do it? I don’t know and don’t care. I have seen the past two weeks a country that I have given so much to, just aimlessly drifting with the raging, uncontrollable tide into the chasm of deep burial.
Windmills in my souls were spinning out of control when I saw video clips last Friday night in Kingston of APNU+AFC supporters literally and visibly manhandling opposition party officials and media workers (both cameramen and journalists) and there were graphic video clips of policemen laughing as the victims ran from intended violence.
This was not the Guyana I gave 50 years of struggle to. This was not the Guyana that Dr. Dennis Canterbury and I ran from in 1979, locked up in a stink room in First Federation Building, while violent thugs from the PNC with huge sticks and knives searched room by room for us, while outside the building, Father Bernard Darke was attacked and killed.
Unfortunately this is my Guyana in 2020. Dennis has long gone, taking a journey into the world of professorship, while I kept in overdrive mode in my own country. So I ask myself; what has changed in my country since the incident in First Federation Building? The day after Father Darke was murdered, I would never forget that issue in the Chronicle.
The paper reported that the priest was killed in a scuffle with other men. As I type this reflection here, on Saturday morning, on the Chronicle’s front page is one of the leads with the headline, “Carter Center pulls out, citing PPP disruption of declaration.”
The Chronicle headline on Father Darke was in 1979 was sickening because the entire world knew it was not true. Today, the entire world knew that Chronicle caption is not true. From 1979 to 2020 is 41 years and when I read that Chronicle story I am compelled to ask myself if the third dimension of my life as stated in the opening paragraph of this reflection here has not been a failure.
Really! What have I achieved after 50 years of praxis when I see what happened at Kingston last Friday? Put yourself in my place. Fifty, forty, years ago, I saw Kingston. Fifty, forty years ago, I saw the Ashmin’s building. In 2020, I am seeing the same old tale, the same old sadness, the same old tragedy, all wrapped up in a country named Guyana. How do you think I feel? I repeat – put yourself in my place.
I end with a story on Thursday morning. I live one minute drive from Giftland Mall. I went to the supermarket to buy a kind of bread that is rare – pan bread. It is the same loaf bread only it isn’t sliced. As I was driving out, I saw this couple who have to be in their mid-seventies.
The wife sat in a chair, canopied with a small umbrella, facing the Arthur Chung Convention Centre. The husband braced against the red station wagon. I stopped and chatted with him. They were monitoring the containers that contained the ballot boxes. As I drove off, I looked at that lady again. And I died. My 50 years of struggle failed her, me and my country.
(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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