Kaieteur News – Today is Mashramani, the event birthed by President Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, a man possessed with deep and extensive authoritarian traits. Maybe the future holds the key to removing many of the symbols he saturated Guyana with that related to his narcissism.
He named what was known as Mackenzie after him. It is now Linden. The highway linking it with Region Four bears his name. He put his daughters’ names on parts of Guyana. There is Roxanne Burnham Garden and Melanie Damishana.
Some people are funny. Two PNC members from the Atlanta PNC group in the US, Carol Trim Bagot and Denis Austin, submitted a motion to the PNC’s 20th biennial congress in 2018 to include Burnham’s name on the airport. But these two funny persons, who I am glad to refer to as clowns, didn’t ask for Jagan’s name to be added to Linden.
Let’s return to the future. Maybe Mash Day and Linden can change thus separating this country from Burnham’s negative legacy. It depends on the future of the PNC. While PNC constituencies are happy that their party still has plenty of seats in parliament, they should face reality that with their leaders getting older and Guyana’s population getting younger, the future of the PNC is in serious doubt.
My take is that the PNC committed self-destruction between March and July last year with the rigging of the national election. It is virtually impossible for them in the decades to come to win either a minority presidency or have a majority government. I’m afraid the PNC is going to be in the wilderness for so long, that by 2040, only a PPP government the youths will be familiar with. During the election rigging, I had a telephonic conversation with Christopher Ram and I told him Guyana is in for a long period of PPP power.
Maybe by 2040, the dialectics would have transformed Guyana so that Mash Day can be rearranged in another format on another day in the calendar that has vital importance for Guyana thus moving the event away from Burnham’s narcissism. Burnham’s mausoleum in the Botanical Gardens can be relocated to Congress Place in Sophia and Linden can be renamed Sun Chapman City in memory of those large number of persons who died when the vessel went down in the Demerara River or simply Bauxite City to remind future generations that Guyana once had a thriving bauxite industry located in that area.
Burnham was deeply enthralled with what he saw as his special, psychological endowments. Another term is narcissism. There is no question about it; he believed he was special. This is the Freudian explanation for why he rode on horseback sharing out cigarettes to poor young men in south Georgetown, which was banned at the time through an edict of his.
It explains why he rode on horseback at Hope Estate and laughed when he had workers scampering in the trenches to avoid being trampled upon. It explains why he loved to wear the chosen colour of the Roman emperors – purple. In 1982, he attended the North-South dialogue in Cancun, Mexico with world leaders and was the joke of the conference.
The colour of his sartorial assemblage was purple including a pair of high top boots that made him look like a cowboy from Texas. The world leaders found his fashion to be amusing. It explains why at a special emergency meeting of his party in 1983, when all the attendees voted to remove the flour ban, he got up and said it will remain because he knows best. It explains why he loved to address gatherings from public balconies.
He settled for February 23 for Mashramani because the date was three days after his birthday. He justified the date by citing that day as the start of the 1763 slave rebellion. He settled for May 26 for Independence for personal reasons relating to the 1763 rebellion. Everything was personal for Burnham.
To deny him his vision would be academic dishonesty. But herein lies the great contradiction of Burnham. Because he was ahead of his time, because he was far more visionary than his post-colonial counterparts; each phenomenal achievement, each international recognition, reinforced his megalomania.
So he got Guyana to be the head office of CARIFTA; got the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement; represented the Caribbean at the 1982 North-South Dialogue and received the admiration of Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher. At home, he implemented the NIS, moved UG to Turkeyen, built the harbour bridge, among several other brilliant accomplishments. But that was his undoing. He thought he was Nietzsche’s Übermensch. So did Hitler. Both had ignominious endings.
(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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