by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 12 Feb 2006)
If there is one thing Guyanese love to do above all else, it is to analyse the political state of the country. No doubt there has been enough commentary written on the political culture of Guyana to fill the bookshelves of some of the largest of libraries in the world.
Although I am well aware that there are some who view the input of “outsiders” with indifference, I am honoured to be privileged enough to be able to add my voice to the chorus of these commentators and I appreciate the warm acceptance extended to me by most of those who choose to correspond with me.
To be sure, Guyanese politics is chocked full of interesting shifts and nuances. We pick apart the smallest action, or inaction, of the various politicians of the country. We dissect policies and procedures, comparing each to how things were done in the past and to similar thoughts in other parts of the world. And we meticulously watch every movement made by the nation’s leaders for a sign – any sign – of goodness and integrity.
However, all of this is done through very sceptical eyes because Guyanese do not trust their politicians – and for good reason. We carefully scrutinise even the most miniscule position taken by a party based on an assumption that there must be some sinister motive driving their decision.
Why do Guyanese spend so much of their time analysing their political culture? Because of an undying hope that perhaps they can help find the cure for Guyana’s many woes. To an outsider, all of this effort may seem like much ado about seemingly nothing, but to most Guyanese, these analyses are often viewed as a lifeline to possibility. Each author (be it a letter writer, commentator or politician) writes with the hope that he or she can pen the words that will end the long reign of despair and futility in their country.
It seems Guyanese have a long history of trusting the wrong leaders and the few times when the nation is blessed with an sprouting leader who actually cares about the people, it is difficult to trust him or her.
The constant economic decline, incessant crime sprees and entrenched corruption have caused Guyanese to scamper to other countries by the tens of thousands. Each son and daughter of Guyana who leaves their homeland behind for safer and more prosperous shores takes a part of Guyana with them. However, each one of them also leaves a big part of their heart in their beloved Guyana.
Many long for the day when they can return to their homeland. But that day has been very long in coming. In fact, the first generation to leave the country are now aging beyond the point of making such a drastic move again – even if the country did turn around in the next five years. Which means there is now a whole generation of Guyanese who will never be able to return to their homeland.
This is the same remarkable generation that started this legacy of relentless critical analysis, which is a necessary function even if it does seem to be a bit over the top at times. It is a protective measure against the wiles of scheming politicians with selfish ambition as their primary agenda. Therefore, Guyana continues to write, dissect and analyse every little move of country’s politicians with the hope of one day finding the cure for the nation.
There is a passion that flows from the hearts of Guyana’s citizens and its Diaspora. There is a passionate love, a passionate loyalty and a passionate desire to see Guyana reach its full potential. I believe it is this same passion that will be the catalyst to usher in significant change and end the thorny times in the country once and for all.
It seems there is a certain unseen, yet very distinguishable, signature imprinted on the soul of each Guyanese that does not fade with time or distance. This is the mark of a great people – a strong and patient people with enduring faith and boundless hope.
Though the struggle may be long, and though their faith has been tested time and again by treachery and betrayal, this faith does not grow faint. Instead, these people grow even more determined to fashion their nation into a unified and progressive country.
For as long as Guyanese hold firm to their faith, there will always be hope for Guyana and maybe, just maybe, one day it will all pay off and the cure for the nation will be found. So long as all of this analysis has one primary goal, a healthy nation, then not one word of it will be in vain.
However, if this system of analysis becomes a clone of the political system – that is to say a feeble group of intellectuals who would rather shove blame than work together for the good of the nation - then we should all lay our pens down right this instant. Guyana does not need even one more so-called leader who spends his/her time vying for the limelight while portraying a façade of sincerity over the ills of the nation.
I write all of this because here of late I have found myself in a he-said/she-said cycle that seems to be taking on the same tone as that of the political arena in Guyana. My intention is debate for the betterment of the nation and I do not wish to be sucked into these political games that would rather belittle one another than to have a real discussion on even one aspect of the nation’s predicament.
My hope is that one day this drive for analysis in Guyana will translate into an examination of past mistakes for the sake of posterity instead of a desperate search for cure to present woes. It will be a glorious day when we can all look back from a position of social and economic stability and dissect these days of the contrary.