by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 04 July 2006)
I went to the movies with my family this past weekend and saw a preview for an upcoming movie about a man who took some jailed prisoners from two historically and notoriously rival gangs and taught them to play football together as a team.
The focus of the film, which is based on a real story, seemed to be that the gang members were able to reach past their long history of hate for each other to prove that they could accomplish something significant together.
Themes such as this always make me think about the hatred that flows so deep in Guyana. If criminal gang members can find a way to work together for a mere sport, then surely a country of intelligent and even-minded people can put aside their hatred and work together for a higher cause as well.
In the AFC's Sunday column written by Sheila Holder, she made a point that should be taken to heart by the women of Guyana. She said, "Women across the political spectrum should mobilise, as other women have done elsewhere in the world, to impress upon the major political players that we desire an end be brought to the political bickering they have engaged in for generations; to end the misuse of state resources and institutions by the current PPP/C government to allow for truly free and fair elections; and for peace and harmony among our people to prevail during this elections period."
I truly believe with all of my heart that the future of Guyana could be radically altered in a positive way if the female citizens of the country took their rightful and proper place and demanded an end to all of the hatred that has been the cause for so much death, destruction and poverty.
Don't get me wrong, there have been some very good men who have tried to reunite Guyana as one country so it could finally focus on something besides its racial division. However, I believe the women of this country have the capacity to take up this challenge and see it through to the end.
For example, regardless of her political affiliation, Gail Teixeira has proven to be one of the bravest Home Affairs Ministers that Guyana has ever had. By taking such a strong stance against the drug lords, she has proven that she has more guts than any man in Jagdeo's cabinet (I don't hear any of them making such a strong statement against this illegal activity).
Sheila Holder's column sent out a rallying call for all of the women of Guyana to unite as one, regardless of the historical racial divide, for the betterment of the country. I second that motion.
It is time ladies from around the world stopped sitting by and allowing the men to drag us through their wars and power struggles without so much as a peep from us. This call should be especially pertinent to the young mothers of the nation, because mark my words ladies, if this nonsense does not stop now, your little boys and girls will be the next generation of Guyanese who will have to live in poverty and abundant crime simply because the government will not work through their racial differences.
This year in Liberia, the women (and some men too) decided it was time to band together for the good of the nation and put a woman in the highest seat in the nation. The same thing has happened in Chile, Germany and Jamaica as well.
This is what a Newsweek article from April 3 had to say about the new Liberian president. "Johnson-Sirleaf's ascendance is the most dramatic development in a quiet revolution transforming Africa. Across the continent, women's empowerment initiatives, disgust with male-dominated politics-as-usual and the inspiring examples of a few female leaders are propelling women to positions of clout in record numbers."
So when will Guyana's women become so disgusted with the nation's "male-dominated politics-as-usual" and unite like the women of these other countries to bring the change the nation should have seen decades ago?
Why not put my challenge to a test? Ladies, take a week and listen carefully to the conversation around you. Are the men talking about what can be done to bridge the racial divide in Guyana? Are they trying to find ways that ALL Guyanese can prosper and live in peace? Or are they still fighting their fellow countrymen and pushing blame for the nation's ills on the other party?
If the men around you are doing the former and they are working toward a better Guyana instead of more power for just a portion of Guyanese, then you should join them in their effort. If the men are doing the latter and ripping Guyana apart more each day with their hatred, then it is time for the ladies to stop waiting for the men to do what is right and do it themselves.
In Sheila Holder's words from Sunday, "Women should position themselves between the old political forces to prevent the realisation of the predictions by the prophets of doom, so that an environment of political stability could develop in order to bring in the dawn of a new era to end the physical deprivations of our people and the mental shackles of racial politics. Women must debunk the myth that the PPP/C owns East Indians voters and the PNCR owns voters of African descent."
Ladies, it is time to stop submitting to the archaic notions that your voice does not matter and that one woman cannot make a difference - because while you cower away you're your responsibility in the political sphere, Guyana is being shredded to pieces. Do it for your children. Do it for yourselves. But most of all do it for Guyana.