Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stella Says…Who tortured those men from Buxton?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 30 September 2007)

It has been ten very long days since the people of Guyana were informed of two Buxtonian men who released from police custody battered and bruised in what was an apparent torture session for information these men did not seem to have.

In the past ten days we have heard law enforcement officials promise an investigation, but we have been provided absolutely nothing of the progress of this investigation. At the time of writing this column, there have been no names given of those involved in this heinous crime. Surely this alone would be easy enough to ascertain.

There has not even been a verification that a crime was indeed committed by those in law enforcement and the Joint Services who allegedly beat, tortured and threatened with death two Buxtonian men while in custody. This is utterly unacceptable.

It is one thing to have some bad apples in law enforcement – those who seek to lord their little bit of power over those who they are suppose to be protecting – but it is beyond comprehension that any law enforcement official would try to sweep this under a rug and try to pretend it never happened.

This promised probe into the allegations of torture by these Buxtonian men should be conducted in the open and the media should be kept informed every single step of the way. Daily updates should be release until those guilty of these crimes are brought to justice.

The public has a right to know about the ongoing progress of this investigation. At this point, it is unclear that an investigation is even being conducted at all and I must say that it would be a great miscarriage of justice if this incident is allowed to simply fall off the nation’s radar and no one is held accountable.

There is no way in hell that anyone from Buxton is going to be forgetting about what happened to those men because they know if justice is not dispensed, any one of those citizens can be the next one to be tortured for information.

Several men were involved in the grisly assault on the Buxton men, which means at this point (ten days later!) the public should have the names of at least a handful of rogue law enforcement officers and/or military ranks who should be charged for their actions and brought to a court of law.

Ten very long days have passed with absolutely no justice. At this point I would have rightly expected to see those responsible behind bars so the community could rest assured that at least the bad apples who tortured the men cannot come after them too.

Surely law enforcement and military are competent enough to find the criminals from within their own ranks. I would venture to guess that almost anyone in that Police Station could name those responsible for the crimes against the Buxton men. So what the hell is taking so long?

The longer it takes to see any type of progress concerning this incident, the worse it looks for every single law enforcement officer and military rank in Buxton -even the good ones. In fact, because it is taking so long to get even the most basic of information about this case – like who was involved – it gives the appearance of collusion by those in charge.

This situation is among the most reprehensible that I have seen in my life. It is a betrayal of trust – a trust the people are guaranteed by the nation’s Constitution. Justice ought to be swift and sure to restore at least a small portion of that trust, but instead the very agencies that betrayed the people in the first place are once again demonstrating their treachery.

If there is still no report of significant progress given by the end of this week (including the names of those involved in this crime), then it would be in the nation’s best interest to create a committee that has no ties to the Joint Services or the Eve Leary Police Department to investigate this crime.

If the government is truly concerned with the situation in Buxton, for the sake of the people who live there, this incident cannot be swept under the rug and forgotten. Law enforcement cannot go around behaving like the very criminals they are supposedly seeking and expect the people of Buxton to help them with their mission.

Ten long days have passed and we still have no idea if justice will prevail and whether those who tortured the men from Buxton will be charged for their actions. I wonder if my column next Sunday will be on this very same subject because we still know nothing?

Email: StellaSays[at]

Friday, September 28, 2007

Stella Says…What kind of friend are you?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 28 September 2007)

Everyone looks for different features when establishing friendships, but the most important aspect of any friendship for me is trust. When it comes to friends I have found there are four different categories of trust. It does not take long to place a new friend in one of these categories, but it always helps to know the telltale signs of each kind of friend.

The first type is the blabbermouth friend. This is the friend who you know beyond a shadow of a doubt will tell everyone else any secret that you have shared. This is the person who cannot wait to leave your presence to tell everything they have just learned with anyone who will listen.

The blabbermouth is like a busy bee, buzzing from one person to the next with the juiciest stories they have collected that day. These types of friends have no conscience regarding trust, so they feel no remorse for freely sharing their information with the world. You are better off finding another friend than to have this one around.

While looking for another friend, you might come across the second type of friend – the insecure friend. This is the friend who tells your secrets to feel more important. Unlike the blabbermouth, the insecure friend will not spontaneously start sharing their information, but will instead give slight insinuations that they have a juicy morsel of news should anyone be interested.

The insecure friend wants others to believe that they are ‘in the know’ and will drive others to desire the knowledge that only they can provide. This friend feels good after sharing your secrets because they believe others look at them as more important for having such hard to find news. You can live with this type of friend, but there are others who you can trust better.

For example, the third category is the type of friend you can trust better. This is the teakettle friend. This friend means well, but will spill the beans when the pressure is on. This friend wants desperately to keep your secret and will even pretend they know nothing at all if they are prodded for information.

However, if the pressure gets to be too much to handle, this friend will blow. After they have spilled the beans, they feel absolutely horrible and will confess their weakness and failure to you in hope of forgiveness. These friends are good friends, but it is best you do not share your darkest secrets with them.

The fourth category is the trusted confidant with whom you can share your darkest secrets with the confidence of knowing they will never be repeated. This person puts your secrets under lock and key and would never share them with anyone else - no matter what.

This friend never has to worry about how to feel after they have told your secrets because they will never be in that position. This is the best type of friend to have, but this friend is so very hard to find.

Now the last question at hand is perhaps the most difficult one – and the most important one - to answer in regards to the relationships we form with others. What kind of friend are you?

Email: StellaSays[at]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stella Says…The Chronicle’s letter pages are not fun anymore

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 26 September 2007)

I just cannot take it anymore. I have tried to be a good girl and hold my tongue, but the letter pages over at the Chronicle have become so outrageous that I just have to say something.

It used to be that I would hop over to the Chronicle’s letter pages for some comic relief during my busy day. I would get a laugh or two for the day and no harm was done since it would be incredulous for anyone in a right state of mind to take the letters printed in the Chronicle seriously.

It use to be that when a person read the letters over at the Chronicle that it was guessing game, which was part of the fun. It was necessary to guess who was the propaganda pusher, who was working in the PPP government and who was merely a PPP supporter. There are barely any other letters ever printed. The mystery was part of the game we all played and it was entertaining.

However, the tone emanating from the letter pages lately makes it far more apparent that it is almost entirely propaganda now and those writing the propaganda have been doing it for so long that they no longer feel the need to make it appear as if an actual person wrote the letter. This takes all the fun out of our little charade.

Although I have always held to the notion that it is bad form to talk about the material put out from another local newspaper in a less than flattering light, I am writing this column without any pains to my conscience since it is obvious that the Chronicle does not hold to this professional sensibility, which is apparent by the way it is so star struck by one of the columnists from Kaieteur News.

Some days their entire letter section is about nothing but Freddie Kissoon. Letter after letter, Freddie Kissoon this and Freddie Kissoon that. I think it is so nice of the section editor to have so much to say about our Sweet and Sensitive Freddie. Although some days it makes me scratch my head in wonder at how one newspaper gives so much publicity to its competition.

On the other hand, I do think the incessant self-congratulatory letters are understandable to some degree from the government paper because nary a soul outside of their own propaganda machine has even a couple nice words to toss the PPP’s way. So I have never held it against the Chronicle for applauding itself on a job supposedly well done (even if it is a bit narcissistic).

The newest trend in the Chronicle’s letter pages is the “Give Jagdeo a third term” campaign. At first I got my usual laugh because on one day a government minister tells us that it is just nonsense to think Jagdeo is contemplating a third term. In other words, the government wanted everyone to just drop the subject.

Yet the very next day there were two or three letters in the Chronicle about how great it would be if Jagdeo decided to run for another term. Even worse, the “Jagdeo for a third term” letters have been in almost every Chronicle issued since we were told the rumours were not true. Hmm, how very interesting.

The other new development has been the very negative letters about the PNC. Mind you, I have nothing against writing negative things about the PNC. This party is embarrassing itself and its members more every day. However, the Chronicle has traditionally kept such letters on the light side. Not anymore.

Lately the “letter writers” are going for the PNC’s throat. This too is another very interesting development. If we put all of this together – we have lots of letters about another paper’s columnist, lots of letters supporting Jagdeo for another term and lots of letters sucking what little life is left in the PNC.

Tsk-tsk. The Chronicle is simply losing its playfulness – which is a real bummer for the rest of us. I have never taken those letters seriously, but at least I had fun reading them. Now all the fun is gone too. There is no mystery. No games. No fun. The romance is spent. Sigh.

I never thought I would say this, but I truly miss the days when Robert Persaud, MBA was in charge of GINA. The letter pages were so much fun back then. Today’s letters are so overtly propaganda that there is no reason to read between the lines anymore.

It is just too bad since I enjoyed our playful relationship. I do wish we could find our way back to those fun days again, but I am not going to hold out hope. I suppose I will have to find another way to amuse myself.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stella Says… Criminal activity to restrain criminal activity does not establish law

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 23 September 2007)

Quite a few years back, a member of my family was pulled over by an American policeman for no apparent reason while using my car. My family member was of Indian descent and the policeman was white.

The policeman not only physically roughed up my family member, but also took the car’s registration and proof of insurance from the glove compartment and tossed it into the nearest dumpster. The policeman then took my family member to jail for the night.

When I heard the story of what happened, I went to that police station and raised hell. The police tried to lie and say the car had no registration or proof of insurance, which is a law, but I told them the car belonged to me and I personally put that paperwork in the car myself.

A few years later, I was driving with a friend after leaving a baseball game and was pulled over for not seeing the patrol car’s lights (it was in my blind spot). When the policeman reached door of my car he was yelling and cussing, which just set me off.

With a very stern reprimand, I reminded the officer that he was a public servant and had absolutely no right to speak to me in such a disrespectful tone. As he gather my paperwork to run it through his computer back at the patrol car, I told my rather freaked out friend that I planned to visit the police station and have a talk with the officer’s commander.

However, the officer returned to my car with a completely altered disposition and apologised profusely for being so rude. He sent me on my way with no ticket since it was obvious that I was not in fact attempting to snub his authority while driving on the streets.

Even after these and other less injurious yet still sore incidents with various law enforcement officials (like the officer who rightfully pulled me over for speeding but approached my car full of young children with cigarette in his hand), I still hold police in high regard.

I do not view police officers as infallible as I once did as a child. That open-mouth awe passed a long time ago. However, acknowledging them as humans who have sworn to protect society from the criminally minded, I give them the proper respect.

I have also lived long enough to know there can be bad apples in any police force. These bad apples are typically megalomaniacs who only joined law enforcement to lord a little power over the very people who gave them the power to start with.

Such is the case with those police officers and soldiers who brutalised two Buxtonian men this week. With protectors of society like this, who needs criminals? Actually, there are criminals in jail right now – convicted by society for their crimes - who have not acted so wickedly as these “protectors” of society.

My own experiences with law enforcement helped to forge a realistic view of the protectors of society. However, there is absolutely no reason for those Buxtonian men and their families to trust or respect these “protectors” anymore.

In fact, if the police came to my house, locked me up without reason, poured corrosive liquid on my skin, beat me mercilessly, seared my genitalia and withheld food and water – the police would be the very last people to whom I would go for help. Nor would I ever trust or respect them again.

These so-called “protectors” are nothing more than criminals themselves who should be charged with attempted murder and locked away for a very long time. Moreover, any government official or law enforcement/military supervisor who condoned this type of activity should also be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

This type of atrocious behaviour by public servants only serves to generate a sympathetic tone toward the criminal elements being sought by law enforcement and the military in Buxton. Brutalising the citizens of this village is counterproductive to the mission at hand.

I do not know who had the harebrained idea that assaulting anyone (citizen or criminal) would remedy this situation, but that person should be replaced with a civil-minded individual who respects the rights of all humans and insists on the preservation of the law – even from the ranks themselves.

How utterly outlandish that anyone should have to suggest that law enforcement and military ranks should observe the law while they carry out their duty to preserve the law. Criminal activity to restrain criminal activity does not establish law – it undermines law and order at every turn.

I know President Jagdeo is busy celebrating the favourable ruling of the maritime border dispute – and well he should. However, at a time such as this it is necessary for him to take a tough stance on this issue and denounce the actions of those involved in the assault on these men and insist that justice be carried out.

Only by arresting those responsible for brutalising these two men will a measure of the trust and respect due to the real protectors of society return. Who knows how many others to which this has happened but the media has not heard about.

I certainly do not want the criminal elements in Guyana to continue terrorising the good people of the nation. I have long chided the government to do something about the crime situation. However, I certainly believe this can be done without brutalisation and assault.

If those in charge cannot find a way to fight crime without breaking the laws themselves – then it is time to put someone else in charge and protect the people from those who are suppose to be protecting them.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Stella Says…Ladies, I dare you to do it

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 21 September 2007)

Traditionally, women are supposed to be as demure as possible in every setting. Society has made it clear that it would prefer a shrinking violet to a bold statement when it comes to the feminine half of the population.

Although men have always been applauded for being daring and even encouraged to push the proverbial envelope in order to explore the heights of human capabilities, when a woman shows even a tad bit of the same tenacity society frowns and tells her to settle down before she gets hurt.

There is no one in the world who can convince me that women are not as naturally daring as men. When I was a little girl, my younger brother and I loved to do stunts on our bicycles. We would build makeshift ramps from which we would jump several feet into the air. We would use those same bikes to race down flights of concrete stairs.

I never saw a swing set as merely a place to swing; I saw it as yet another vehicle by which I could discover a daring stunt to perform. The same was true for any playground that had equipment that would allow for climbing, jumping and hanging upside down like a circus performer.

One year after my older brother had passed away, my mother took my younger brother and me to spend some time with an auntie who lived in a small farming community. This created a whole new backdrop for us to explore on our bikes.

We found adventures around every corner - like a huge water reservoir that had 20-foot cliffs from which to jump and we found barn lofts that were just high enough to flip off into the piles of hay on the floor below.

Since I was the eldest child, I was the one who led the way to these adventures. We never flinch in the face of these escapades because we both had equally daring spirits. I was only about ten years old during our trip to the farming community, so no one had yet told me that I should calm down and “act like a young lady.”

When a family member finally suggested that I change my whole personality to become more sedate and reserved (which meant I should be less courageous and adventuresome), I was wholly offended. In fact, I was downright mad. No one had told my younger brother to calm down and stop being so daring.

To some extent I complied, but was always bitter for being forced to be someone other than the person I truly was. I know for a fact that I am not the only woman who has been coerced into curbing the daring part of her personality. I have talked to many other daring women who experienced this same frustration at varying levels.

Sometimes I feel as if women need someone to give them permission to be the person they really are deep down inside. Which is why I am always telling women that it is okay to let their intelligence shine (even in the presence of men). It is okay to have be an informed woman with strong opinions about important issues like politics and finances.

Moreover, just like it is it okay for women to be strong and intelligent, it is also okay for women to be daring too. Not only is it okay for strong, intelligent and daring women to exhibit these natural attributes - it is the best thing they could ever do for themselves and the rest of the world.

What good does it do the world for women to suppress these valuable aspects of themselves? In my opinion, it does the world nothing but great harm to suppress the best feminine assets available to humanity just to pacify the egos of a few insecure men.

If you are a woman, I dare you to be the person you have always known you were deep inside. To take this one step further, I dare you to be the person you have always dreamt of being.

I dare you to make a list of things you have always wanted to do and mark them off one by one as each is accomplished. I dare you to use your potential to its fullest extent to accomplish the goals you have always wanted to achieve. I dare you to set high goals.

I dare you to stop waiting on those around you to tell you it is okay for you to be daring. You do not need anyone’s permission to be gutsy. All you do need is to stop making excuses for hiding in the shadows. Girl, I dare you to be you.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Stella Says…Even if the system fails the children – society must not

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 19 September 2007)

When we elect our leaders and pay out taxes, we expect these leaders to take care of the business of running the nation so that we can focus on such things as our jobs and families.

However, there are times when our leaders simply do not have the resources – whether intellectually or monetarily – to do the job to standard to which the people expect and need. This is when the nation starts to see important aspects of governing fall through the cracks.

For example, there is much that can be said, and in fact has been said, about the current condition of the educational process. It is one thing when the government cannot provide cutting edge education (that would include computer training) to the children, but it quite a serious indictment on the proficiency of the entire system when literacy takes a hard blow.

An adult who does not have the skills to work a computer can build a career in a job that requires no such ability. However, there are very, very few jobs for those who cannot read. It is important to understand that there many responsible for teaching children to read – starting with the parents, then the teachers and the government.

Yet still we must remember there are some parents who do not know how to read themselves. The sole burden for teaching the children of such parents now falls on the teachers and government. However, after raising four children, I know how easy it is for children to slip right by the attention of busy teachers and overstretched politicians.

This is when it is once again upon society to take up this burden in the absence of any other capable hands. This is when civil society should take the necessary steps to safeguard the nation against a rising illiteracy rate.

There are so many ways in which social programmes can be started and maintained by non-governmental organisations (NGO). This is also a perfect opportunity for the business community to band together to help educate its future work force. Likewise, parents – both literate and non-literate – can create fun adventures that would encourage reading.

In fact, it would be wonderful if Guyana’s celebrities used their status to promote reading. This could be on a local level, like a school attended while growing up, or on a national level with television, radio and newspaper ads to promote a reading program.

Moreover, if these celebrities – maybe even a Miss Guyana or two - came together to send a joint message to the youth of the nation that learning to read is one of the most important things a child could ever do, it would go a long way toward sending the message that reading is fun.

The influence these young celebrities have over the youth is an amazing phenomenon that can be used for the good. There are so many celebrities who waste their star power when it can be channelled into a good cause such as helping children by encouraging them to read.

While I do believe this issue should be manageable under the supervision of the government, it seems to be one of those problems that consistently get swept under a rug somewhere while everyone involved pretends it does not exist.

It would be too easy for society as a whole to shake its finger at the government for the flagging literacy rate. However, this is not one of those issues that can be ignored until the government finds a way to fix it. It is in situations such as this when everyone should jump in and work together for the good of the children.

This is not a time to push blame and point fingers – not when the children are the ones who suffer. Now is the time for action. So what are you waiting for? Don’t just sit there. Go out and help a child to read.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Stella Says…Don't open my door!

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 16 September 2007)

Is my arm broken? Is my hand shrivelled? Are my eyes functioning? Maybe I should take a second to check. Yep, just as I thought, everything is working properly. Which brings me to the question at hand - why must guys continue to insist on opening the door for me?

I am perfectly capable of opening a door. Sure, their arms may be longer than my arms and perhaps a tad stronger. But believe it or not, I handle the door opening process quite well in the absence of testosterone.

It's not that I don't understand the social code that mandates this action. I know that any man who doesn't at least attempt to open the door for a woman is thought to be ill mannered. In fact, some women base their entire judgment of a man on this single action (or the lack thereof).

It is thought that a guy will fall short in all areas of manners if he does not have the common courtesy to open the door for a woman. For many women, this is the first clue that he doesn't know to put a napkin on his lap during dinner, which fork to use for the salad or (worst of all) he hasn't been taught to leave a tip for decent service.

However, for me, the door-opening requirement for men is a nuisance. It doesn't make me feel like a queen. Instead, it makes me feel small and dependent. Since I'm not a child, I don't like to feel small or dependent. I don't use the action of door opening to determine the manners of a man.

In fact, if I happen to pass through the door first and the guy has the guts to let me hold the door for him, that is the sign of a man who can handle a non-traditional and independent spirit. It is the sign of a man who isn't easily intimidated by a woman who can take care of herself. To me, it is the sign of a real man.

Chivalry belongs to an age of submissive women who curtsy and bow at the sight of their lord. I belong to an age of daring women who are educated leaders. So why should I step aside and expect a man to open a door for me? It's just a door. If a woman needs a man to open a door for her, then she should never attempt to bite off something really big like starting a business or running for political office.

It's just a door. This is true, but it also so much more. It is a sign of dependence. Women might as well just curtsy as we gracefully nod our heads in submission to our lord as we pass through the door. No thanks; I'll get my own door.

However, men beware, not many women share my notions about opening doors. In fact, very few women agree with this view and you could get yourself in some big trouble if you wait for you girlfriend to open the door for you and she is a more traditional type of thinker. This is something you may want to talk about before actually putting it to the test.

As the stereotypical views of women fall to the side and we begin to see actions like opening our own door in the presence of a man as breaking one more link to a history of a being second class in society, we will see true equality between men and women. Until then guys – I'll get that door.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Friday, September 14, 2007

Stella Says…The rice industry’s contention with the Red Thread impugns its credibility

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 14 September 2007)

Last Sunday this newspaper published a letter of protest from the Red Thread concerning the fact that rice farmers were to receive a reprieve from VAT taxes on certain items needed for their farming activities. The Red Thread felt it was more important to focus on the poor women of the nation who could not afford to buy food.

There was a backlash of letters in response to the Red Thread, but there is only one to which I would like to react. My reaction is not really about the VAT tax and it’s impact on poor women and rice farmers. Nor is it about who needs a tax break more.

Rather, I would like to address the way in which one letter writer attempts to snidely counter the letter from the Red Thread in the same way a misogynistic husband would tell his wife that her constant yapping makes it hard for him to hear anything she says.

Although he subsequently gives the Red Thread a patronising acknowledgement for the work it has done for women, Dharamkumar Seeraj, the General Secretary of the Rice Producers Association, starts his letter with this statement, “The Red Thread’s contentious response to the VAT waiver in the rice industry impugns that Organisation’s creditability as champions of women and the poor and vulnerable in society.”

If ever there was a statement made by men that has crossed time and space to undermine the value of female input, this assertion by Mr. Seeraj is the epitome of the typical patriarchal response. It really gets my blood boiling when I see a situation like this where someone tries to shut women up.

It is nothing no skin off my back if the rice farmers get a tax break (although it might help Robert Persaud get some votes in 2011), but I sure as hell care when a representative from this industry responds to a women’s advocacy group in such a condescending manner.

I could not help but wonder if Mr. Seeraj understands that it is the women who buy a bulk of the rice sold in Guyana and across the world.

It does his industry great harm to insult the very people who buy his product. It would be far more profitable for Mr. Seeraj to walk a mile in the shoes of some of the women from the Red Thread before he so callously disregards even a small part of their fight for help to buy food for their families.

The rice industry is one of the most – if not the most – successful industries in Guyana. As such it is only logical for the women of the Red Thread to question government aid to those who are financially stable when it is becoming so difficult for the average woman in Guyana to afford just the basic staples of life.

Although Mr. Seeraj wanted to belittle this important work, the letter from the Red Thread that questioned the tax break given to rice farmers was absolutely appropriate in context of the reality in Guyana. The fight for help by those in the Red Thread is for the families of Guyana – not just the women who voice the issue.

Another letter on this issue from Mohamed Khan made the same point as Mr. Seeraj without undermining the value of the input from these women. Make no mistake; the importance of the Red Thread’s message remains intact despite sexist statements that would attempt to dismiss it.

The situation of the women in Guyana is not going to just disappear with a few trivializing comments – whether from a representative from the rice industry or from the government. These ladies have found their voice and they are finally using it for their own advantage.

As far as Mr. Seeraj goes, I wonder if he knows that most women who read his letter would not have given his words any credence after reading that highly insensitive first paragraph. In other words, his contentious response to the Red Thread impugns his organisation’s creditability.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Stella Says…Those noisy churches are not acting very Jesus-like

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 12 September 2007)

When the Ministry of Home Affairs has to check up on the volume coming from certain establishments so as to ensure the majority of citizens can live in peace, there is something seriously wrong.

Since when did it become vogue to be so rude? I have written on this subject before, but when it was reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs had to step in so this issue could be taken care of, it became evident very quickly that these noise offenders just do not care about others.

There were clubs and restaurants listed among the noise offenders in an article in Monday’s Kaieteur News. Honestly, if I had to get up for work at 6 am after listening to the pounding bass from a club’s speaker system until the wee hours of the morning, I do believe my patience would break.

To make matters worse, there are churches on the list of offenders too. So much for the Christian teaching of “Love your neighbour.” A few months ago, I received an email about such rude behaviour coming from a Hindu place of worship as well. Is it any wonder at all why people are turning from religion?

Normally, this noise situation would have taken care of itself. The residents surrounding these establishments would have brought the matter to the attention of these offenders and out of courtesy to possible patrons the establishment would have taken the necessary steps to curb the noise.

However, this rude and unseemly behaviour was not curtailed by the plea of the neighbours or even by demands of the local police. I just cannot begin to imagine the arrogance of these perpetrators to totally disregard the needs of others for selfish reasons.

Having spent so much of my life in the church, it is especially bothersome to me that there are religious organisations among those who just do not give a damn about their neighbours. If ever there was an indictment against those who claim to walk in the path of Jesus, this is it.

While it is vital for everyone to obey the laws of the land, the church believes it answers to a higher law. The Christian law requires a person to go the extra mile for even a stranger. The teachings of Jesus say that if a person wants to be great in God’s kingdom, he/she must be a servant of all.

Pardon me for being so blunt, but the actions of these rude churches do not come close to being an example of the Jesus. If anything, the people who live around these noisy churches are probably praying that some god – any god – will save them from the Christians.

Since these churches do not seem to be following the teachings of Jesus (for if they did, they would never treat their neighbours so badly), allow this heathen to preach a sermon for the edification of the brethren.

Proverbs 18:19 says. “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.” In other words, by offending your neighbours with your loud noise and by showing such disrespect for the sanctity of their home, you are pushing them away from the church and making any hopes of proselytizing them dissipate.

Your rude actions are pushing people away from your God when you are suppose to be a beacon of hope in this world. Even a schoolchild knows that your offending noise is wrong and sets a bad example and so your insolence at the needs of your neighbours speaks volumes about your religious claims.

When those heathen clubs behave in such a discourteous manner, it is expected to some extent from drunken people who lose control of their common sense. But when Christians behave thus with no explanation other than sheer disrespect – you have told the entire community that your religion is worthless.

These churches that have behaved so badly have much repenting to do.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Stella Says…The fairy tales were all wrong!

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 09 September 2007)

Whether it is the older stories of Cinderella, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast or the newer tales of Aladdin with Jasmine and the Little Mermaid, every single one of these fairy tales end with the princess, or rather the damsel in distress, being saved by a handsome young prince.

What is a girl to conclude from these wonderfully woven bedtime stories but that as women we will only be happy when a prince comes to save us from horrible lives as single women and sweep us away to the land of happily ever afters.

Spinster. That is one of the names given to a woman who does not find a prince to save her. Old maid is another. Both of these words hold very negative connotations because society strongly impresses upon young girls that they must marry if they are to have a fulfilling life.

It is ironic that what defines a fulfilling life for a man is the career in which he chooses to work. Just look at Peeping Tom’s column from this past Thursday entitled, “The purpose of life is to be found in work.” The first sentence of the article said, “The man who dies happily and without regrets is the man who usually funds [sic] contentment in his job.”

It would appear that only a man could find contentment in his job. Not a woman. The good little princess is probably supposed to be cleaning the prince’s shoes or washing the prince’s clothes.

To be fair, Peeper did throw in a couple feminine references, but the whole tone of the article was directed toward men. In modern context though, Peeper’s column should apply as much to women as it does to men because there are quite a few women working “to earn money to upkeep their family.”

This is a funny idea though because women have never been taught this concept of being content in a career or a job – although it applies equally to them. Instead, women are taught find their contentment through taking care of their husband and family. However, there are very many women who are in fact finding great contentment in their jobs.

I recently stumbled across a new princess story that I plan to send to my college-aged daughter and to read to my 14-year-old daughter. I want to tell you the story in part since it is so wonderful. This fairy tale is about Princess Bubble who grows up, goes to college and gets a job that allows her to travel around the world.

Princess Bubble loved meeting new people every single day and learning about new cultures. She bought her own castle and hosted parties for the kingdom. Princess Bubble was completely happy. Now this is a princess with whom I can identify!

The story continues that one day the Queen called Princess Bubble to the castle on the hill and told her it was time to find a prince. Since Princess Bubble knew this is what every princess is supposed to do, she dated some fine princes and had a great time with each one.

However, Princess Bubble liked her life the way it was and did not feel like it was time to share her life with a prince. She did not feel as if any of these princes were the key to finding her “happily ever after.” She was in no dungeon and she had no wicked stepmother, so she did not need a prince to save her. She was already happy.

One day while Princess Bubble was feeling perplexed, her Fairy Godmother appeared and told her, “Living happily ever after is not about finding a prince.” Among other very wise remarks, the Fairy Godmother also said, “Happy princesses are people who enjoy others and like themselves.”

Well of course, Princess Bubble was shocked that all the fairy tales were wrong. “Everything the Fairy Godmother said made perfect sense. She was already happy!” Princess Bubble knew she would live happily ever after and looked forward to the many adventures ahead of her. And she did live happily ever after.

Now this is a fairy tale worth telling my granddaughters! Women are not perpetual damsels in distress who need a man to come and save them. There are plenty of women who are getting an education, building careers and even having children while remaining single and happy.

If a man comes along who is capable of sharing a wonderful life with an intelligent woman – great, but many modern women do not need a man to be happy. They do not need children to be happy. They are perfectly content with the life they have created for themselves.

This is the way it should be for every woman because when happiness is found inside, a partner and family can be added without the woman losing herself along the way. Happily ever afters should not be determined by the degree of sacrifice a woman must offer to make everyone else happy. This is an antiquated thought that stifles women.

A woman can have a career, her own house, her own car, and her own life and be happy. She does not have to sacrifice all of those wonderful aspects of her life and pretend to be rescued by a prince to live happily ever after.

Peeping Tom was right in that a career can be a rewarding part of life. I find my career very rewarding. His only transgression was to focus too much on the men and not enough on the women.

To all of my fellow Princesses who know that strong, intelligent and capable women are the ones who promise a bright future for the world – I lift my wine glass in toast. Ladies, we rule! (Wine glasses clink)

Email: StellaSays[at]

Friday, September 07, 2007

Stella Says…It is time for Corbin to face a disciplinary committee

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 07 September 2007)

For shame! It appears as if the PNC intends to continue with its plans to take disciplinary action against Team Alexander and other alleged party dissidents for “conduct unbecoming of party members” because they made a public statement to the press regarding their intentions to run against the party leader. Tsk-tsk.

This has to be the biggest joke of the PNC’s already extremely comical year. This opposition party, which has been the primary opposition party in Guyana for decades and the ruling party before that, is actually going to discipline it’s own members for taking a democratic approach to party elections.

Well if this PNC committee insists on being so damned funny, perhaps it will appreciate the comedy in putting Corbin in front of my one-woman disciplinary committee that I have just formed for the sole purpose of promoting truth and justice in the face of such gobbledygook from the PNC. I love the word gobbledygook.

I would have invited Sweet and Sensitive Freddie to join the committee, but he takes too long to come to a conclusion sometimes and he seems to be on every single committee in Guyana already. And since I didn’t know which Peeping Tom to contact – I decided to go this one alone.

We do not have all day so let us get this show on the road. Eh hem, this meeting is called to order and we bring Robert Corbin before the committee to answer for conduct unbecoming of a party leader. In short, Mr. Corbin, you are cited for being a lousy leader and the committee has produced a list of questions to which you must answer.

The specific charges at hand that have led us to this disciplinary action for conduct unbecoming a leader include, but are not limited to, a charge of sitting on you lazy butt and doing very little for years on end when your constituency needed an active leader.

You are charged with allowing power to go to your head and thereby forgetting the plight of your constituency. You are charged with falsely believing you should be the leader of the PNC for the rest of your life.

You are also charged with not smiling on television interviews and in photo ops for the press, having very little public persona and thereby making it seem like a visit to the dentist to have a tooth pulled would be far more desirable than to be a member of this party.

I move to begin questioning the party leader - and then I second the motion and the motion is passed without dissent. Hey, this is your type of democratic process, eh Corbin?

Tell the committee, Mr. Corbin, why have you sabotaged every party coalition (i.e. the Reform, One Guyana)? You are charged with not playing nice with your fellow politicians. What have you to say about the party’s failing relationships other supposedly allied parties?

Which prompts another question for you, Mr. Corbin, why are you so bent on staying in control when it is obviously not best for the party? You had your shot and failed miserably, so why not give someone else a chance to make something of the party since you could not?

Further, Mr. Corbin, please state to this committee any significant social or political endeavours the party has accomplished since you became party leader. For example, how has the lives of your constituency been improved as a result of your leadership? The Recall Legislation does not count since this was a joint political manoeuvre with the PPP and had absolutely nothing to do with the people.

Speaking of the PPP, Mr. Corbin, are you secretly making backroom deals with President Jagdeo in which you believe the PPP will give you something politically significant at some unspecified point in the future if the PNC just behaves itself by being a good little docile opposition party?

It would seem after much deliberation that you have in fact been sucked into a wormhole of power, Mr. Corbin, which has rendered you incapable of making the right decisions for the good of the party.

You have made the public irreversibly mistrust the PNC and you recent conduct (including your highly undemocratic speech at congress) proves you are an out of control leader who should be reigned in by the very leaders whom you have placed before a disciplinary committee.

Therefore, it is this committee’s decision that Mr. Corbin is to blame for the recent schism in the PNC and the current spike in the lack of public confidence because he should have just stepped down from his position in the first place and none of this would have happened.

It is also this committee’s conclusion that Team Alexander should not be blamed for this untimely collapse of the PNC. This old dinosaur has been on its last leg for a long time - and it is all thanks to Corbin.

As such, this committee has determined that the PNC committee is disciplining the wrong people. It is Corbin who should be answering to the disciplinary committee for his conduct – not the people who were trying to save the party.

This committee would also like to know if the PNC committee understands the consequences of disciplining party members for democratic conduct. If the PNC committee continues its action – they should be brought before a disciplinary committee too.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Stella Says…Is the sex so good that you would risk your life?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 05 September 2007)

It now seems a country’s wealth may somehow correlate with the amount of common sense people in that country use when it comes to sex. In fact, according to this month’s issue of Foreign Policy, those who live in some of the wealthiest countries have the most unprotected sex and the most sexual partners.

How ironic that the developed countries pour money into programs to help developing countries stave off sexually transmitted diseases (STD) while their own people seemed to have missed the public service announcement on practicing safe sex.

The result, according to the Foreign Policy article, is 340 million new cases of STDs each year – not including HIV. Obviously there is a factor beyond education that needs to be addressed on this issue. The apparent question at hand is why would someone who has been educated on the importance of safe sex knowingly engage in risky behaviour.

Other than sheer masochism, one cannot help but test the theory that money gives certain people a false sense of security when it comes to sex. Perhaps those who engage in risky behaviour feel as though modern medicine can cure any ailment (a false assumption) or can at the very least control the outbreak of STDs (also not true).

Modern medicine cannot prevent the spread of STDs either. There is no amount of medication on the market that does the job of one condom at preventing the spread of STDs and HIV. I have read news articles concerning the cost of condoms for some in the poorer nations and how difficult it is for poverty stricken persons to practice safe sex.

Yet we are talking about people who can afford to buy a condom and still practice risky sexual behaviour. Numerous reasons abound – some prefer the sexual experience without the imposition of a condom, some get caught in an unexpected moment without a condom and others just throw caution to the wind and act on impulse instead of common sense.

However, the ever-increasing number of STDs proves that simply pretending as if there were no risk factors involved with every act of unprotected sex is unrealistic. Surprisingly, the Foreign Policy article did not include age brackets for comparison and for that omission the report flawed in my opinion.

However, I wish to touch on this subject because there is a tendency to assign risky behaviour solely to the inexperience of youth. There are two factors to which we must give our attention in this regard. The first factor is that while we may want to blame teens for soaring STD rates, the pace at which the youth of today mature seems to be dramatically slowing.

It is almost as if the 20s is the new teenager, which means the risky behaviour that often includes drugs, alcohol and unprotected sex lasts much longer than just a few short teenage years. Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan, all of whom are in their 20s, are examples of a prolonged teen experience complete with risky behaviour.

The second factor to which we must give consideration is that risky behaviour does not seem to halt even after the 20s either. There are actually quite a few adults who engage in high-risk sexual activity. Regardless of the expectations that by the time a person reaches the 30s or 40s (or even the 50s and 60s) we can expect adults to practice safe sex – there are still some who do not.

There is simply no excuse for any adult to trade his or her health for a sexual encounter – no matter how good the sex. Just picture a businessman who spends his days working diligently to secure his financial future and at night behaves like a teenager by choosing to engage in risky activities.

Or picture a healthy woman of 40 who works out daily to maintain a strong body but meets a guy and has unprotected sex. These examples are far more common than they should be. How is it possible for adults who strive so hard to shape a promising future to behave in such an irresponsible manner? Again, this is the question at hand.

Perhaps it is an incorrect assessment of the capabilities of modern medicine that causes people to behave so foolishly, or maybe it is a false sense of security concerning ones own health or a desire to cast caution to the wind and live in the moment regardless of the consequences.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that developing countries are the ones setting the standard for safe sex now. I know what I would do if I were President – I’d have condom stations throughout the country to pass out free condoms to all. Hey, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Stella Says…There are elves in Iceland and killer fans in South Korea

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 02 September 2007)

Did you know many people in Iceland believe in elves? It is true. Polls consistently show the people of Iceland believe in these humanlike creatures that live in rocks. This innocuous urban legend is simply an assumed part of their Celtic culture in which some Icelanders believe and some do not.

In South Korea there are many people who believe if an electric fan is left running in a closed room it will suck away all of the oxygen in the air and suffocate those in the room or that the fan slows the person’s metabolism so much that she or he dies from hypothermia. This urban legend is so strong that every electric fan in South Korea is sold with timer switch to shut it off after the person has fallen asleep.

We all grow up with some sort of fantastical stories. I learned of one of Guyana’s urban legends earlier this year when an elderly woman was beaten to death for being an ol higue. Likewise, I have heard stories over the years of other folklore and I am sure there are even more that I have yet to learn about.

There is one legend I hear frequently, especially among the Diaspora – that one day Guyana will rise to her potential and be a great country. It is a legend of hope and desperation all rolled into one.

Sometimes it is so difficult to live in the here and now that it is easier to look beyond the reality of today and find hope in tomorrow. Today there are prison breaks, corrupt government officials, high food prices, rampant crime and a heavy-handed patriarchal system.

I often wonder if the capacity to look beyond such grave circumstances and still see hope in the future is a safety switch humans have to protect them from giving up. I would like to think that as an intelligent woman I do not need to believe in urban legends.

It is my estimation that whatever happens in life should be dealt with as reality and not as a floating moment. However, I must confess when I read Freddie Kissoon’s column from this past Thursday (August 30) entitled, “Inside the mind of a politician,” in which he interviewed one of the old Burnham boys, that I was offended at a particular line that challenged my belief that Guyana will one day be a great country.

In Freddie’s talk with Elvin Mc David, this past week, Mc David reportedly said, “Freddie, you use to criticise the Burnham Government but look what we have now; the situation in Guyana is irretrievable.” Guyana is irretrievable? Oh my! He might as well have told an Icelander that elves do not exist.

Urban legends are funny things because this phenomenon shows how the human mind is often willing to believe something completely outrageous even in the face of fact and logic.

When the people of South Korea were told that no one outside of their country believed in death by fan, there were excuses given as to why this trend affects only the South Korean physiology. Sometimes people will believe what they want to believe regardless the validity of the facts staring them in the face.

For example, as rational and reasonable as I believe myself to be, I would still rather believe in elves and ol higues before I believe that Guyana is irretrievable. Be assured that I am not blind; I can see the writing on the wall as well as any other political commentator. I simply choose to believe the urban legend instead.

I will not play the role of a ditsy blonde either and pretend that all is well with the nation, which is why it is necessary to hold the feet of Guyana’s leaders to the flames daily to make sure someone is doing something productive for the people.

I have come to understand there is a balance between fact and fiction when it comes to Guyana. The facts are not very promising, but that is where fiction helps to keep hope alive. Freddie warned me very early on that I could lose my marbles by dabbling in Guyanese politics.

This is how I sustain my sanity, by choosing to believe in the urban legend that one day Guyana will live up to it’s full potential and be a great nation. I may not believe in Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, elves or that the moon is made of cheese, but I do believe in Guyana.

My fear is that others will follow Mc David’s example and reject the legend of hope for Guyana. Mark my words, if this legend dies – so will Guyana. There are so many urban legends in Guyana (like ol higues, haunted trees that cannot be cut down and the presence of jumbies) that could die over time without much impact on the nation.

However, believing Guyana will one day be a great nation is an urban legend that cannot and should not be allowed to die. If Icelanders can believe in elves and South Koreans can believe in killer fans, I can believe in my own fantastical story too.

Email: StellaSays[at]