Kaieteur News – Last Sunday, at Massy Supermarket at Turkeyen, as the cashier checked me out, Dr. Melissa Ifill, UG’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, was next in line and she said to me, “Mr. Kissoon, it seemed that I offended you.” I knew she was referring to several columns I did on her stance on the 2020 national election which I repeat here that I analyzed as dangerous, insane, and injected with compelling thoughts of race and no embrace of love of country.
I condemned Dr. Ifill in those columns because since I was a 16-year-old employee of the Michael Forde Bookshop reading philosophy books and never went to high school, I wanted to have an education because I believed then and still do that educated people are the ones to save the world because educated people know what non-educated people do not know thus they escape the pathways of ignorance.
During the five months of election rigging, for a person who is second in charge of our country’s only national university, Dr. Ifill’s biased, unashamed and racially shaped support for what was taking place was a deep shock to me. I knew her well. She participated in two weeks of consecutive demonstrations at UG when the Ramotar presidency terminated my UG contract, an action the Ombudsman ruled as illegal. We spent a year in Rodneyite groundings outside Parliament in which we fought for the rights of some very low income groups of people in Region Three and Region Four.
I knew the pains I felt at what the Jagdeo and Ramotar presidencies did to me, my wife and daughter. The pain was still there when the election rigging began on March 3. But I was not the issue when the rigging started. Jagdeo and Ramotar were not the issue when the rigging began with Clairmont Mingo. At stake was my country where I lived and where I was not moving from.
The election fraud was far, far, far more important to me to stop me from denouncing it than the way I felt the PPP government had treated me. I knew that government put me out of employment. I knew that government made two attempts on my life. I knew that government kept me in the Brickdam lock-up for three nights and days for a mere traffic offence.
I knew from confidential sources in the police force that then commissioner, Henry Green, and then president, Ramotar, agreed to let me and Benschop spend the Christmas season in the lock-up. I knew the real big wigs were involved in the attack on me for which Minister Kwame McCoy and others were arrested and charged. Before he died, former GRA boss, Khurshid Sattaur, said to me with sadness in his eyes, “I had nothing against you, I always liked you but I was ordered to go after you.”
These traumas are emblazoned in the prison walls of my psyche. But when Mingo began to deny my daughter her right to vote, these traumas were not the issues. As I wrote above, it was my country that was at stake. As Dr. Ifill enquired as to what she did to me, I replied, “Not me, the country, not me, is what you did to the country.” Those were my exact words.
Let us look at the other side of the coin. On March 3, while covering the election in the studio at Kaieteur Radio, Leonard Gildarie and I were shown information that was unmistakable – the PPP had won. I voted for Lenox Shuman because I wanted a minority government so we would have accountable governance or a brake on majority rule. It didn’t happen.
What was I to do? Two options faced me in that studio – support the denial of the right of Guyanese to vote because the PPP who traumatized me had won thus supporting election rigging or prevent permanent power by the PNC and AFC, two unworthy groups of people that would rule my country forever. I chose the direction I went into for the following reasons: my training in philosophy instructed me that civilization goes out the window when people’s freedoms are removed; I loved my country and it came first before the PNC and AFC that I didn’t care about; my education at three universities would have been consigned to the gutter had I denied Guyanese their right to vote; finally, I knew in my heart that Guyana would not have survived if we had the return of rigged election and the permanency of Burnhamism. Dr. Ifill should have joined me in saving Guyana and ignore the race she was born into. Race will never, ever matter for me.
(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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