Ours is a country that has been plagued with controversial politics for the past few decades which have hindered our social and economic development. If you are looking for the reference or footnote to that prior sentence, look no further since it cannot be found in any article or publication. However, you may find it lingering in the minds of Guyanese like myself who have grown tired and frustrated by the political games we have been subjected to. Note, my intention is not to stroll down the dilapidated and pot-holed memory lane of our political history, nor is it to lambast any political parties. My intention is to look to the future to heal Guyana. For too long we have confined ourselves to the role of pawns in political games, so permit me to do my best at painting you the bigger picture.
For most of our independent life there have been two major political players in the game. While we are a diverse country, we are led by two large ethnic populations: the indo-Guyanese and the afro-Guyanese. A fact which many contend has been transformed into a political weapon to forge division, exploit votes and to cement us into the role of pawns. Argue with me all you want on that, but in my humble opinion, we can only be used as pawns if we choose to remain pawns. When we come into this world, we are but infants, but there comes a time when we must grow up, learn responsibility, and build a life. Similarly, there comes a time when we have to grow up and realise we can no longer be “children” who are told what to think and do when it comes to the way our country is governed. As far as I am concerned, we have suffered as the collateral damage in the clash between two political titans for much too long and turning a blind eye is no longer acceptable.
So for 2018, my goal is for us all to start with a clean slate and take an initiative toward understanding our political landscape:
READ MORE – They say knowledge is power, but do we really know why? I have always believed that it meant the more you know the better position you are in to create change. Find ways to engage in meaningful discussions with other Guyanese and learn new perspectives. A Government in power is a Government for the people, not solely their voters. We are entitled to equality and dignity, notwithstanding our race, creed or political beliefs. Ensure our children are educated enough to understand the same as they are the ones we are going to rely on to positively change Guyana.
We must keep abreast of current affairs and make it our business to understand the conduct and operations of the Government and political parties. Too many Guyanese take for granted the work and operations of these political actors up until elections year where political parties are busy playing political mind games and we cannot think for ourselves.
FORGET RACE – Having only spent twenty-four years on this earth, I won’t pretend to fully understand the deep rooted racial complexities that have no doubt evolved over time nor will I pretend that this article will magically resolve it. Nonetheless, I will encourage you to look at each other as Guyanese and not “blacks”, “chiney” or “coolies”. While growing up, I have witnessed many “cuss-outs” where the race-card has always been played to attack and berate. Social media is constantly littered with racist commentary and offensive words, rendering it an unsafe environment for our children. No one is ever born with hatred, it is taught and learned.
So we must ask ourselves: do we really want to teach our children hatred? Or better, do we really want to keep learning hatred? We cannot condone a society where our children are discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, nor where we blindly follow political ideologies because of racial conditioning.
BREAK THE MOULD – It is no lie that 2017 has been plagued by political controversy; from the recent parliamentary circus show, the GECOM “fit and proper” fiasco to the ExxonMobil contracts. However, one thing that is always constant is the logic (or lack thereof) of die-hard political fans. I am referring to the persons who resurrect the previous indiscretions of a past government administration as a misguided justification-in-disguise for the indiscretions of the current government administration. I refer to them as die-hard political fans because they are essentially victims of the "us versus them" political strategies employed by both major political parties, premised on hypocrisy and creating a brain-washed political divide.
Use 2018 as the year to transform into an independent thinker. Understand that a wrong is a wrong, despite whomever may have committed that wrong before. If we get into the habit of creating excuses for the failures of a government, we are doing ourselves and the future of democracy and accountability in government a significant disservice. Whether you, or anyone else, were vocal in the past or not, have the courage to break out of the mould of “pawn” to stand by what is right TODAY.
As 2017 comes to an end, my wish is to start a new clean slate with an open mind that is receptive to learning new things. We must educate ourselves and our children on how to treat others beyond race and political beliefs. As mentioned earlier, I am not writing this to point my finger at political parties, but to point my finger at civilians like you and I, so that we can realise how important it is to be independent thinkers in 2018 – civilians that understand what we deserve as Guyanese and why we need to hold ALL politicians to strict standards of accountability and transparency as they are put there in power by us to serve us. In other words, I only seek to remind you not to be played in this game of politics, when you are essentially the game master.
Heal Guyana is a registered, not-for-profit organisation which functions as a civil society platform that focuses on empowering Guyanese and influencing citizens toward positive behavior change.
The views expressed herein are those of the Author; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Heal Guyana or its Executives.