Kaieteur News – Here are the words of a prominent Guyanese, Vincent Alexander, who I believe has a voice that many African Guyanese listen to. I am not African Guyanese. I am not an Indian activist. I am a Guyanese academic, media operative and human rights activist.
I do not have a pair of racial lenses to use in those three horizons that I operate on, therefore my mission is to write about and correct wrongdoings perpetrated by people in general. The pen I have, has no interest in protecting any ethnic group, including the East Indian race, whose DNA is part of me without me having any original choice in that (not that I cared which ethnic parents I was born from).
Before we come to elaborate on the headline of this article here, an expression of mine is important. I know this country. I know its people. I will not be deterred by negative things said about me. That is life. This aspect of life will remain with civilisation forever. One just has to do the things that are in one’s heart, soul and mind and ignore the ranting and bile of limited minds from race groups and political prostitutes that live in miasmic cocoons.
Here is what Alexander wrote in the letters section of the Stabroek News of February 5, 2021, “As an African Guyanese, it is my firm conviction that the enslavement of Africans along with the post-slavery institutionalisation of their subjugation, in Guyana, has left them economically disadvantaged and psychologically scarred.” Any Guyanese social scientist trained in political economy, political sociology and history of their country who can accept that statement except the last two words, is either incompetent or is an academic charlatan.
I am not African and not a descendant of African slaves so I cannot be that stupid and impertinent to decide how African Guyanese psychologically feel about the enslavement of their ancestors. But I do have a little bit of authority to comment on things I see among African Guyanese since I grew up among them, lived among them all my life and have several African nieces and nephews from three African brothers-in-law and one African sister-in-law.
In this country, the Africans and East Indians are intricately connected because of Guyana’s demography and economy so it is pathetically absurd to tell an African or an Indian that they do know absolutely nothing about each other’s race. From where I stand historically and in modern times, I did not and do not see the psychological scars of slavery that determined and is presently shaping the psychic and mental structure of African Guyanese.
What I believe is that African politicians and certain bigoted Africans with a certain agenda used the “psychological scar sentiment” for sinister, narrow purposes. I keep writing about that statement Melinda Janki made in 2020, that the people of Guyana are not racially driven but it is the politicians, who drive the race hate in the country.
My task here is to dissect the part of Alexander’s statement that refers to the economic disadvantage of African Guyanese. It cannot stand up to historical and scholarly scrutiny. It is a dangerous myth with a purpose to mislead young African Guyanese. It should be confronted and be defeated.
Here is what Professor John Gafar wrote in his book, “Guyana: From State Control to Free Markets,” on page 41 about who owned the wealth of Guyana, “The PNC Burnham Government…took control of over 85 percent of total investment and over 80 percent of the recorded import and export trade, miniaturised foreign banks and insurance companies, instituted a system of price, exchange rate and trade controls….”
Here is what Professor Ramesh Gampat wrote in his book, “Guyana’s Great Economic Downswing, 1977-1990, on page171” about who owned the wealth of Guyana under the PNC government, “The Government was responsible for 85 percent of gross domestic capital formation…private domestic capital fell from 70.5 percent to less than 20 percent during (sic) 1978 to 1988.”
The obvious question then was who owned the wealth of Guyana in those days when an overtly Black party was in power and its hegemony was complete? Here is an informative bit of statistics from Gampat, “In 1977 public and private fixed capital formation as a share of GDP was 20.5 percent and 5.3 percent respectively.”
I returned from studies abroad in 1984 after a short stint with the Maurice Bishop Government in Grenada. I went into the J.P. Santos supermarket and it was empty. Rice farmers were literally devastated by the Burnham regime. The External Trade Bureau regulated all trade at the time. Where was the economic disadvantage of African Guyanese? More later.
(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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