Wednesday, May 4, 2011

African Guyanese have become second class citizens and political aliens

By Dr David Hinds

They have pounced on Tacuma Ogunseye because he called on African Guyanese to join marches in the villages to press for their inclusion in official decision making in a country they have inhabited for centuries. Marches by Africans are now Guyana’s weapons of mass destruction, according to our rulers.

Ogunseye’s critics conveniently ignore the gist of his message: Guyana cannot be a civil society if half of its population is treated as political aliens. Ogunseye is responding to the psychological, economic, cultural and political violence perpetrated on African Guyanese in the name of democracy. Yet he is the one who is being accused of racial violence.

David Hinds lectures in Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University in the USA. More of his writings on politics in Guyana and the Caribbean can be found on his websiteEven some who profess to be friends of African Guyanese, including those who now sit in parliament because of African Guyanese votes, were quick to condemn Ogunseye. But as the calypsonian, Cro Cro, once told African-Trinidadians in song: “Black Man. Alyuh look fuh dat.”

All of this points to something in Guyana that does not inspire confidence that we could become a racially inclusive nation anytime soon. Three things have become clearer in the last few months. First, the East Indian cabal that controls the PPP is committed to the notion that never again will the representatives of African Guyanese get their hands on political power. Second, The African Guyanese people are being punished by this cabal for the excesses of the PNC when it governed. The message is clear: If African Guyanese want to survive in Guyana they must cooperate with and vote for the PPP. Third, the PPP cabal is confident that they have bought over enough African Guyanese from villages, towns, media and unions who are willing to engage in race-trading their fellow Africans.

My political outlook has been shaped in part by two currents in Guyanese political tradition -- black nationalism and multiracialism. For me the two are interrelated -- one is not a negation of the other. When Indian Guyanese were bullied by an African cabal, I joined with others in confronting that cabal.

As a young man, I, along with two fellow Buxtonians, walked into Freedom House and joined Gail Teixeira, Vibert DeSouza, Shirley Edwards and other PPP people in the Worker’s Stage, a PPP cultural group. We went to mainly Indian villages and performed for them. It was our way of showing our solidarity with a people under attack in their own country.

Like Tacuma Ogunseye, I joined the WPA -- not the PNC. We are Africans who once put our lives on the line in defense not just of African freedom but also the freedom of Indian Guyanese to live with dignity in Guyana. I am forever proud of that.

It pains me to witness what our once comrades-in-arms have done to our struggle. I am angered by their willingness to use Africans to do their dirty work. When Prime Minister Sam Hinds and President Jagdeo lecture Tacuma Ogunseye on multiracialism I scream to high heavens. What do these men know of multiracial struggle? They should be thanking Ogunseye every day -- they could not hold their lofty titles had it not been for Ogunseye's multi-racial struggle.

But we shall not be silenced. If I have a voice let me use it in defense of the vulnerable and the disrespected -- in this case African Guyanese. I am ready to say some things “without water in meh mouth.”

African Guyanese have been progressively reduced to second class citizens and political aliens in Guyana. The ethno-racial cabal that has governed Guyana for most of the last nineteen years are the worst rulers in our modern history. They have engaged in the worst form of ethnic politics. Ten years ago it was marginalization. Today I call it colonization-internal colonization of Africans.

I join Freddy Kissoon in declaring this government an elected dictatorship -- an elected ethno-racial dictatorship. They have given democracy a bad name. This PPP government is worse than anything Burnham ever dreamt of. They have not rigged elections. They have instead rigged the government, the treasury and the state of Guyana.

I end with this promise -- I will be at the front of those marches for power sharing. For therein lies the most viable possibility of ethno-racial wholeness in Guyana.

May 4, 2011