Kaieteur News – My daughter had the first brush with danger in her country after she returned recently from graduate studies in London. I knew one day it was going to happen. It is going to happen to people who are powerful, powerful with money or authority. By authority I mean ruling politicians, judges, top army and police officials and diplomats.
It was last Friday. I took my daughter and the family dog up the East Coast to show her how Guyana is re-arranging. I told her from our home on the Railway Embankment at Turkeyen, right up to the end of Region 4, large Chinese supermarkets dot the landscape.
So we started our journey to see a changing Guyana. We saw traffic cops stopping people at random. I told her the advisor to the Minister of Home Affairs, Harry Gill, promised me he will ensure that doesn’t happen. We saw a rapidly deteriorating Railway Embankment that is going to destroy small cars like the one I have.
On our return journey, about 05.05 pm, just outside my home – Railway Embankment and UG Road, there was total chaos. This guy with a sandwich in his mouth just turned head on to our car and my daughter screamed and I yelled at him to stop. The pile-up was large and drivers couldn’t move. Guess why?
For four years, (yes four, I live there so I know), the signals have stopped working. In 2019, one evening, I made an intense chastisement against Minister David Patterson who was the subject minister at the time. I yelled out; “fix the traffic lights up the road.” I was at my friend’s place, Raymond Persaud, an engineer at Ogle airport whose house is next to the AFC’s head office. Patterson was having a beer at Raymond’s little shop in front of his home. Patterson never repaired the signals, but he had time to fix a gold bracelet on his hand.
When my daughter screamed, thoughts of how I felt about how she will change when my wife and I saw her off at the airport came into my mind. I knew she would change because that is what happens to all of us when we mingle with other cultures of other countries. After leaving Guyana for post-graduate studies in Canada, my life was transformed forever. I was never the same after I lived in Toronto. I saw how different the peoples of this world are.
I left Guyana with my wife, who was already exposed to other societies because she studied in Canada before. I was then a person who knew nothing about the world except Georgetown where I had spent all of my life. I was Marxist, pro-Cuban, thought White people were essentially racist and full of pride in being Third World, Caribbean and dark-complexioned.
Canada expanded my horizons. I met nice White folks who wanted to do good for me. I met professors who were genuinely sympathetic to non-white people. I saw university culture at McMaster University and University of Toronto that was essentially humane and positive, hardly what I saw when I was a UG student. I saw governments in Canada that were democratic, accountable and transparent. Living in Canada and seeing how governance was practiced, President Burnham in my eyes was nothing but a monster.
I know how I had become different after Canada, and when I saw my little girl leave for the United Kingdom, I know I will not see the same psychological make-up of that kid my wife and I brought up. I know like her father in Canada, the UK will redo her forever. So said, so done! The first email we got was the nice treatment at the airport. She said the immigration officer just glanced at her student visa and put the stamp in her passport.
Obviously, he knew she was cleared from the Guyana side so why bother with the questions. Not so in Guyana. If a student from Iceland comes to Guyana to attend UG, even with a visa, immigration will grill that person. He/she will have to tell our immigration officer which side of the road Icelandic people drive on. UG lecturers and students will hardly be accommodating. The second email we got was how easy it was to open a bank account. And the emails were a deluge of how bureaucracy works smoothly and how nice Londoners are. She came back to Guyana and almost lost her life right outside her home because in the 21st century, traffic signals do not work. What is psychologically terrifying about the collective psyche of this nation is that all Guyanese see that horror as normal life.
(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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