By Pat Dial
Kaieteur News – Some of our members have long been suggesting that this column address the issue of race and racism in Guyana since it appears to be one of the most topical subjects of discourse. We had resisted this since the Guyana Consumers Association (GCA), by its Constitution,
never is involved in politics or takes political sides. Indeed, practising politicians cannot hold office in the Association, though they could be members. Many of our members however, point out that race is a sociological concept and not a political one despite the attempts of politicians to co-opt it into their armory.
Guyana in the 19th century had become very multiracial, and despite the currency of racial name-calling and racial jokes, the various racial groups respected each other and desired to live in harmony and by the beginning of the 20th century, the country had evolved into a plural society. In the Christmas Season which began in November, for example, the population became submerged into a joyousness and feeling of unity where everyone became simply a Christmas celebrant. By the end of the 1940’s Guyana had developed a sense of nationality and was moving towards racial unity.
In the 1950’s, the scenario took a disturbing change to most people: the colonial power, Britain, decided to withdraw from its West Indian colonies and grant them Independence and in this process, they nurtured politicians and political parties to whom they could hand over power on their departure. The concomitant of this process was the grant of progressive Constitutions with Parliaments. The new political parties then began to compete with each other for office and the easiest way for them to mobilise support was by racial appeals and this was the beginning of racial consciousness of an adversarial kind.
In the 1950’s the Cold War had begun raging and Guyana was sucked into it because the Cold Warriors, led by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), perceived Dr. C. B. Jagan and his PPP party as Communist and being able to unite Africans and Indians forming a national unity and at the imminent grant of Independence by the British, would be taking the independent Guyana into the Soviet Bloc similar to Cuba.
The Cold Warriors led by the CIA became frantic and tried every method to stimulate and exacerbate hatred and animosity between Indians and Africans and they were eminently successful resulting in widespread communal violence where scores of persons were murdered and much property destroyed in the 1960’s. This was a scenario, which had never before occurred in Guyanese History and was beyond the imagination. One of the aims of the strategy of the CIA was to delay Independence indefinitely but they succeeded in delaying it for two years only for the British were determined to withdraw. Independence came in 1966 and racial relations, and especially between Indians and Africans were in ruins.
The Cold War was won by the West in the 1980’s and this, together with the great societal changes which had occurred in the half-a-century from 1950 led to the dismantling of the machinery which had been used in the electoral sphere and by the Cold Warriors to exacerbate feelings of hatred and animosity between Indians and Africans.
By the turn of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century, Guyanese society had recovered. All Guyanese attend the same schools, go to the same hospitals, work in the same work places, fraternise in the same social spaces and affiliate with their multiracial relatives. And every day, thousands of kindnesses are proffered to each other. The only persons who speak of race as an issue are politicians or persons who are aligned, in one way or another, with politics and this fact could be ascertained if one researches into the print and electronic media over the last 20 years.
Is Guyana racist? The answer is ‘No.’ The politicians who talk of race are a dwindling breed.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Oct 26, 2021Kaieteur News – The stakes were high on Saturday afternoon last at the Lusignan Golf Club as golfers came out in droves for the final tune up tournament sponsored by C&V Shipping, prior the...
Oct 26, 2021
Oct 26, 2021
Oct 26, 2021
Oct 25, 2021
Oct 25, 2021
Kaieteur News – The answer to the question above is that they met in a confluence last Saturday morning in my head.... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – It is nothing short of shocking to learn that, despite the fact that the world... 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]