Trying to understand the human mind is a Sisyphean task. The mind is basically fathomless. I still think that the book “Orientalism” by the phenomenally bright Palestinian philosopher, Edward Said, is the best I have read in understanding how the colonizer was successful in painting the colonized as culturally inferior, and getting the colonized to actually believe that false narrative, as well as getting the colonized to judge culture from through the eyes of the colonizer.
Strangely enough, for a man who so brilliantly exposed how colonialism implants its own aesthetic values on the non-white races of the world, Said himself used those very values he condemned in his philosophical works. Said in his essay for the London Review of Books (“My Encounter With Sartre,” volume 22, number 11, June 2000) wrote rudely of people’s physical appearance. He described of one of philosophy’s greatest thinkers (Jean Paul Sartre) as ugly and Sartre’s personal assistant as unattractive.
Said was deeply chagrined that Sartre had invited him to a scholarly workshop to discuss Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat’s recognition of Israel and what prospects for Middle East peace that initiative held and what Sartre turned out to be. Said wrote that he was ecstatic to have received an invitation from the great man himself. So even though the conference was important to him, as a member of the Palestine National Council, he, Said was just enthralled at meting and talking to Sartre.
Said wrote that Sartre spoke not one word on the suffering of the Palestinians, and his aide did not include the subject as a topic on the meeting’s agenda. Said intoned that he could not believe this was the man who championed the cause of the Algerians, the Vietnamese, and the liberation of colonial people all over the world, and became an international hero for such causes. Then he observed; “I guess we need to understand why great old men are liable to succumb …to the grip of an unmodifiable political belief.”
This has been a long introduction to the comments that will follow on certain statements Eusi Kwayana made recently in the Stabroek News (Kwayana has a strange aversion to sending his letters to the Kaieteur News – an issue I challenged him on, and will offer his reason in another column). When Said visited Sartre in France in 1979, Sartre was 73. Strange that you would find someone of the philosophical type like Said referring to a 73-year-old man as old.
Kwayana was 95 on April 4 this year. I will eschew Said’s use of the term old (which I find unacceptable) but feel inclined to ask this great Guyanese how he can reconcile his recent statements with the horrible series of depraved stratagems that are currently being used to rig the 2020 election in his country. That statement is in the form of a letter captioned; “There should be a tribunal into the several cases of brutality following the March 2 poll.”
The 2020 post-election violence took place on one day. In comparison with other episodes of post-election violence since and including 1992 (all of which were witnessed by this columnist), they were mild except for one life lost – a PPP supporter was shot by the police. The police accused him of trying to harm two ranks.
In that letter of March 26, Kwayana wrote; “The courts are occupied with what they consider and have judged to be petitions falling within their jurisdictions. And the litigants are entitled to have their days in court. All litigants have this right and in our own interest it is a right to be defended.”
To date, it has been six weeks since people’s right to cast their vote and have it counted in an open, free, fair and transparent manner has not been respected. Does Kwayana see the need for a tribunal to investigate this travesty?
In these six weeks, this country has seen repugnant, egregious, horrible perpetuations of election rigging that Eusi will be hard pressed to find parallels while he lived in Guyana. There are no attempts at cover-up. There are no attempts at subtle tampering. There are no secret manouevres. But open, barefaced rigging that is taking place in full view of the world.
What does Eusi have to say when an election commission, not just one of the contestants but the very election commission, is involved in the rigging? What does Eusi have to say when ballot boxes remain tamper-free because security cameras from nearby buildings are focused on them, but the police want the cameras removed? How about a tribunal to investigate election rigging, Eusi? Does Said have a point on the role of age on people’s thinking? I doubt it.
(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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