by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 11 April 2006)
In the United States, the term “biker” is used to describe a certain type of rebel. This person is usually rebelling against the social expectancies laid down by pop culture and sees his/her bike as a form of escape from the pressure to conform to society.
I have always thought of bikers as being free spirits with a touch of Steve McQueen in them - a portion of society that would never forfeit their freedom without a fight. It would seem that Guyana’s bikers share this same “rebel with a cause” spirit.
In that same spirit, I stand heart-to-heart with the bikers who took to the roads of Guyana over the weekend in a ride for peace. I applaud this group of bikers for their tenacity in making their call for peace known. They are rebelling against the cultural norms in Guyana that have become acclimated to a climate of murder, crime and constant racial strife.
These bikers are not willing to forfeit their freedom to the criminal elements without a fight and they are not about to succumb to the social expectancy to reject another race regardless of the nation’s violent past.
The peaceful co-existence, or dare I say racial harmony, sought by these bikers over the weekend is a possibility if more people joined in this pursuit. It has never been easy for any society to overcome the issues that accompany racial differences, but just like many other nations around the world, Guyana can come to a place of peace if it can only move beyond the hurt of the past.
Where were Guyana’s leaders during this noble ride for peace? That was the one big question that was glaringly evident as I read about the event. Quite frankly, the lack of participation by these leaders speaks volumes about them.
Where were the representatives from the PPP, PNCR, AFC, GAP/ROAR, GTF and all of the political and social groups that claim to be working for Guyana’s best interest?
When a joint racial effort like this presents an opportunity for the nation’s leaders to let the country know they are not going to draw their political lines along the preset racial boundaries – the leaders should jump at the chance to participate.
By playing it safe and staying away from noble efforts such as this proves their cowardice to take a stand against racial division and reveals that they are obviously more concerned about getting those preset racial boundary votes than they are about helping Guyana heal from her past.
In my opinion, leaders who curtsey to a constituency full of hate rather than support a constituency seeking peace are no leaders at all. Their silence and lack of participation in these types of events sends a strong message to the world that they themselves are not ready to heal and move the nation forward.
I especially want to know where the women leaders were during this event. Where were Deborah Osman-Backer, Bibi Shakick and Sheila Holder during this ride for peace? If they were not on a bike and making a statement for peace, then perhaps they are not the type of women I thought they were.
Ladies, you can make a difference in this country and the rest of Guyana’s women are waiting for you to be brave enough to make the changes that your male counterparts have not been able to make. You can set a whole new tone for the nation, if only you can embody the spirit of these bikers and rebel against the expectancy to conform to the ebb and flow of Guyanese politics as it has been practised so far.
Are you willing to project the statement that your absence and silence on such matters makes to the nation? If so, then you are no better than the many other leaders who have failed this nation.
If you are not willing to send that type of message, then by all means start making some noise and let the world know that you are not a willing participant (by commission or omission) of racial division in Guyana. Let everyone see you fighting for the country you have vowed to served by bridging the gap between the races instead of letting the system of hate drag you down with it.
According to the article in Sunday’s Kaieteur News on this event, these are the words of Ravi Harichand, one of the organisers of the peace ride, “We need peace in our homes, communities and the country at large. With much work we were able to accomplish this peace ride… and this should not be peace for only today but every day.”
Now that is a sermon I would have actually gone to a church to hear.