Kaieteur News – Caribbean music icon, Dave Martins, writes a weekly column here in Guyana where he lives. I enjoy each of them because they are interesting ruminations of an interesting icon.
In his column yesterday, Mr. Martins alluded to a feeling I have though he noticed I have not made that emotional shape public. Mr. Martins observed that though I may write about bad news after bad news, he believes that many of us who pen these negatives have a yearning that good will come out of our criticism. He believes that our persistent lamentations (my words) are premised on hope.
He wrote, “These people are pressing for changes because they believe it (sic) can come.” If I have not said it publicly then I am loudly exclaiming it now and thanks to Dave Martins for writing about it so I can shout it out.
Yes, Mr. Martins in all the thousands of condemnatory pieces on my country that I have written in my 32 years as a newspaper columnist, in my heart I composed those chastisements, vituperations, fulminations, grievances, accusations, denigrations with the effervescent hope in mind, soul and psyche that they will lead to incremental, positive changes. I continue to rant against my country. I continue to criticize everything under the sun in my country, but your words are impeccably on target Mr. Martins – I write with the passion and the purpose that one day Guyana will come good. The dream never died.
I’ve hardly seen changes Mr. Martins but as one of my favourite philosophers, Antonio Gramsci, once noted – the optimism of the will has to override the pessimism of the intellect. So I will continue my social activism and critical radicalism in the hope that one day, as biology catches up to me and my days become numbered, I will have the changes you refer to in your column yesterday. I will do so until I am mentally and physically unable to continue (and If Kaieteur News continues to have me).
I suppose if anyone can examine the backwardness of Guyana in a comparative context, it is Mr. Martins himself. As a Caribbean singer that has performed in countless lands by comparison, I believe Mr. Martins has seen how bad a shape we are in. My struggles are not only with modernizing the physical landscape of my country and modernizing the delivery of service. It is also about psychic transformation.
When my daughter said goodbye to me at the airport to study in London in 2018, I knew as night follows day, the first set of emails I would get would have been the difference in the thinking of Guyanese as against British folks in the context of philosophical, intellectual approach to life.
This is the crucial area of struggle for me in Guyana – getting people to acquire three things- psyche, humanity and philosophical appreciation for our obligations to the fundamental values that hold civilized society together. How can a society remain silent when a bandit invades the home of a man whose siblings are visiting from overseas, shoot up the place killing the man and gets three years from the judge (Navindra Singh) for time served on remand?
This is in a country that has one of the highest homicide rates involving robbery. Is life worthless in this society? Days after, a magistrate (Renita Singh) jails a man for six months for stealing toilet papers. I am currently investigating a situation where the Ministry of Health and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority seized meat from two establishments but only named one of the business places – a Brazilian supermarket. This kind of barefaced double standards has destroyed the moral foundation of the Guyanese society and for one reason only – people in this society don’t care about the way others are mistreated.
I had a brief word with President Irfaan Ali recently. I cannot discuss what he told me but I am at liberty to publicize my words to him. I told him he has 10 years to eclipse the legacy of the three big names in recent Guyanese history – Jagan, Burnham, Rodney. I did acknowledge that he can be re-elected in 2025 because such a possibility is expansive.
In our brief conversation, I pointed to so many unworkable, anachronistic, unpalatable horizons in Guyana – cultural, economic, political, psychological, sociological – that he can transform for the better, making Guyana a place where we can still have hopes and dreams. He will then leave an everlasting legacy. So to conclude, I thank Dave Martins and say to him in the most affirmative way, my bad-mouthing of my country is ensconced in my hope of having a real 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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