Kaieteur News – There is only one book on the long reign of President Burnham. It is titled, “To Survive Sensibly or to Court Heroic Death: Management of Guyana’s Political Economy, 1965 – 85 by Tyrone Ferguson.”
Ferguson’s book is good but its title can be misleading if you are interested in a profound analysis of the political degeneracy of the period in which Mr. Burnham literally stamped his rule on the face of the nation. Ferguson does not dissect the hegemony of the PNC government and the ruthlessness that accompanied the totalitarian impositions.
The only book to date that young Guyanese can read to understand the period of Forbes Burnham’s control of Guyana is the superb writing of Jesuit priest, Father Andrew Morrison, the then editor of the Catholic Standard, the official paper of the Catholic Church in Guyana.
The book came out in June 1998 and my dedication to myself was to highlight the contents of the book each time its publication date came around. I never got around to doing it since 1998. I knew I wanted to do it last June but the date came and went.
Father Morrison’s excellent publication is extremely relevant given the five-month election fiasco this country endured. Since over half of Guyana’s population is under 25 then the long dictatorship associated with the rule of Burnham is not something they would be familiar with.
I thought that after the election drama ended, it would have been a superb idea to have reprints of the book. Any Guyanese that haven’t the faintest clue of what a government in Guyana looks like that cannot be removed has to read Father Morrison’s creation. It remains compulsory reading for those who fought for free and fair elections from March to July in 2020.
I had the enormous privilege of being edited by Father Morrison as a columnist for the Catholic Standard for six years. In those years I did journalistic work for the newspaper. It was a gift to have known this humane human. He taught me some of the priceless values of journalism, the memories of this journey I will always cherish.
His magnum opus is 415 pages divided into four parts, each having their own chapters. Part 2 and 3 relate to the tenure of Burnham. Together they are made up of 21 chapters, though not very long ones. These are priceless writings for which this country should forever be grateful. Maybe someday, a researcher will capture the period 1968 to 1985, the year Burnham died with sound analysis. But until that time comes, Father Morrison’s book remains the material to be used on how unelected governments can destroy the heart of a nation.
I don’t know if given the circumstances we witnessed during the attempt to rig the national election last year, some person or group will decide to have reprints of the book. But it should definitely be done. If you are living in Guyana and you saw what happened in March last year, when you read Father Morrison’s book, then you would see the great escape this country made.
One lesson that must be internalised about unelected governments is that they have no hesitation in the repressive direction they go because they cannot be voted out. Do you know how different our history would have been if President Burnham knew he would have lost the next general election for denying a job to one of the most learned minds Guyana produced – Walter Rodney – and thus back off?
Most persons who lived through the seventies I believe often wonder what politics would have been liked if Rodney was made a professor at UG. Would he have still become the nemesis of Burnham with the tempestuous confrontations between the two men that almost drowned Guyana? What if as a professor at UG, Rodney was in receipt of huge sums of money from foundations around the world to write books and thus would not have been so emotionally intertwined with the politics of bringing down Burnham?
Rodney was not allowed to work at UG because the government of the day that did that to him did not have to face the electorate in forthcoming elections. It rigged it and stayed in power. The lowest point in unelected government in Guyana was in 1975 when at the PNC congress at its head office in Sophia, the congress declared the doctrine of paramountcy of the party, meaning that the PNC had more state authority than any state institution.
I hope you get a copy of Father Morrison’s book though that may be difficult but this is essential reading to get a glimpse of how an unelected government can destroy a country.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Oct 17, 2021In a move aimed to kick-start the country’s first-ever National Sports Academy, the National Sports Commission yesterday met with the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG), the Guyana Amateur...
Oct 17, 2021
Oct 17, 2021
Oct 17, 2021
Oct 17, 2021
Oct 17, 2021
Kaieteur News – Anyone who lived in Europe would know that service is natural, automatic and pleasing. Anyone who lived... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – On October 12, more than a dozen representatives in the US Congress sent a letter... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]