Kaieteur News – On Monday, November 7, Parliament met to pass the amendment that will remove mandatory prison sentence for non-trafficking offences. I stopped to ground with the Rastafari group that was demonstrating against the retention of prosecution of one gram up.
I wrote about my presence in the group so I need not reproduce the details. Please see my column of Sunday, November 13, 2022, titled, “Rastafari: Except for my wife, my life is a failure.”
What I did not mention in that column is what I told the Rastafari group. I boldly asserted to them that no one in the Caribbean has written more than I did on the exigency of removing criminalisation for possession of small amount.
What I did not mention to the group is that I had my fifteen moments of fame when I appeared in court as the representative of Keeifer Burnett, an AFC youth activist charged with possession of 3 grams of ganja. For details on what happened to Keeifer, my role and the attitude of attorney, James Bond, please see my column of Tuesday, January 8, 2019, headlined, “African Guyanese 52 years after Independence.”
This article here was motivated about what I saw Eusi Kwayana wrote in Kaieteur News last Tuesday. Kwayana made reference to an article of mine of Monday, November 14, 2022, captioned, “Where do African rights leaders stand on the ganja bill?”
Kwayana in his Tuesday last publication wrote: “This letter is an attempt on my (Kwayana’s) part to make up for the many issues I failed to comment on…” Kwayana went on to agree with me on my stand on the marijuana amendment. But in doing so, Kwayana has generated questions about his sincerity to the cause of the Rastafari community in this country.
In May 2015, the WPA, the party Kwayana helped to birth, became part of the government. The month before, Kwayana turned 90 years. In 2016, the APNU+AFC put on the Order Paper of the House the amendment to decriminalise possession of small amounts. From 2016 until it demitted office in 2020, the APNU+AFC did not pass the legislation. From 2015 to this day of November 24, the leaders of that formation has not offered a single word of explanation why the Bill was shelved.
From 2016 onwards, I have chastised the APNU+AFC in several columns for not allowing the legislation. Where was Kwayana during 2015 to 2020? In 2022, Kwayana at 97 years has more than ten letters published in the newspapers.
When the WPA got into office in 2015, its bigwigs- Drs. Clive Thomas and Rupert Roopnaraine and Tacuma Ogunseye were in constant contact with Mr. Kwayana and Moses Bhagwan who are in the US. The WPA group in power was in frequent touch with the Overseas Friends of the WPA (OFWPA).
In 2017, three leaders from OFWPA – Keith Branch, Dr. Alissa Trotz, Dr. David Hinds – came to Guyana to discuss the role of the WPA in government. They met at Minister Roopnaraine’s office at the Ministry of Education.
I was informed by Mr. Branch at breakfast at Tastee Snackette on David Street, Kitty what took place. I was also in receipt of David’s feelings about the meeting. To date, Branch, Hinds and Trotz have never ever offered a passing comment on that crucial discussion where Roopnaraine outlined the WPA’s position on the exercise of power.
My question to Mr. Kwayana was where was he when 2016, 2017, 2018 passed and the marijuana amendment was still invisible? What was Mr. Kwayana saying to Drs. Thomas and Roopnaraine and Ogunseye as the legislation was stalled?
Mr. Kwayana was always perceived as someone close to Rastafari orientation. He informed us that he wrote the introduction to Horace Campbell 1987 book, “Rasta and Resistance.” His introduction has extolled many aspects of the Rastafari philosophical outlook.
Against this background, I ask the question again; where was Mr. Kwayana when the years moved on, his party the WPA had state power and the Bill was removed from the Order Paper?
Can I answer the question myself? Mr. Kwayana became a party faithful after 2015. The leaders of the WPA from the 1970s to 2015 that promised revolution and liberation now had their chance to bring into Guyana a new political culture.
From the time the WPA was formed in 1974, it has argued from day one that Guyana fundamental problem and most disastrous instinct was its old political culture. That was the WPA’s stuck record from 1974. In 2015, the WPA took state power and the WPA made the old political culture even older with its betrayal for which its surviving leaders should not be forgiven.
(The views expressed in this articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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