I have carried with me throughout my life the belief that the historiographical imprints of the most heroic, iconic persons should be open to question and if we find lapses we should not gloss over them because of sentiments.
I have long viewed Eusi Kwayana as someone far from the heroic types I admire like Walter Rodney, Maurice Bishop, etc. But his iconic status was immense. Two traits in Kwayana deterred me from seeing him as a hero. One was his obsession with not divulging information. He has an obsession with keeping things secret, things which should be in the public domain.
Secondly, he deliberately obscures history by withholding specificities. For example, he informed us two months ago that he was at the trial each day of Donald Rodney who was convicted by “a magistrate” (his words). I believe he intentionally withheld the magistrate’s identity.
At age 95, Kwayana has atavistically reverted to the type of personality he was when he was Sydney King, that is, he sees Guyanese sociology through the prism of ethnically based competition for power and he must take a side. The 2020 election impasse has revealed this atavism and it must be a prodigious chagrin for those who long admired him.
My analysis here is on his shameless defence of the role of Tacuma Ogunseye during the violent mayhem that took over Buxton between 2002 and 2006. Kwayana wrote yesterday that he objected to Ogunseye calling the violent criminals in Buxton liberators and he apologized to Ogunseye because Ogunseye said he used the term African resistance fighters and not liberators. It never occurred to Kwayana that Ogunseye lied to him. But obviously, Kwayana knew that. Ogunseye used the term “liberation movement” several times.
Ogunseye knew I was exposing his activities in Buxton from my journalistic investigations so he tried to shut me up through a libel writ. His lawyer was Mortimer Coddette. What Ogunseye didn’t know was that Morty was very fond of me and admitted to me the libel put him in a bind. It was Morty who contacted me. I remember his words vividly today; “Freddie, Tacuma is meh friend, I’m a black man but is wuh wrang with you two, how it come to dis?”
My response was simple. I told Morty, I wrote what I knew what Ogunseye was doing in Buxton; what he was doing was racist and evil. He asked me to bring proof. The next day, I turned up at his office with my proof. He was not there and I left a message. I heard back from him three days after. We met in his office and I showed him what I had. I can recall his exact words; “wuh rass is dis, Freddie, weh yuh get dis ting from?” As the conversation went on, I told him more of what I knew and that will be my defence.
Coddette declined to pursue Ogunseye’s libel and failed to show up each time it was called. It was then struck out. Here is my belief why Morty acted that way. I honestly believe he did not want to pursue me for libel but he could not have told that to Ogunseye so he took the diplomatic way out.
But more importantly, Morty knew that people he functioned with politically would have been damaged by the court case and he was not prepared to take that chance. I told him food for the gunmen was cooked by a certain cultural organization in Georgetown and sent up to Buxton where it was coordinated by a woman I knew who would testify in court. Morty did not want these huge sensitivities being produced in court.
The WPA including, Kwayana, Desmond Trotman, Bonita Bone, Rupert Roopnaraine and Clive Thomas knew what Ogunseye did in Buxton. They also knew what Ronald Waddel did in Buxton. So did Andaiye. She walked out of a meeting in Chris Ram’s office when Ogunseye turned up. I couldn’t believe it when a person like Dr. Alissa Trotz who organized the speakers for Andaiye’s funeral could have selected Ogunseye to represent the WPA.
It was clear to me from that day the WPA had degenerated into the worst form of political nihilism. Kwayana should apologize to the people of this country for telling us he believed Ogunseye. I conclude with Kwayana’s appreciation for my journalistic investigation in to Buxton. He wrote in his book, “The Morning After”; “I have found the essence of his (Kissoon) findings on the East coast disturbances with few exceptions well founded and based on information too detailed in particulars to be discounted. His knowledge of the personalities in and around the Taliban exceeds mine.”
(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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