Indo Carib Leaders must Emulate Pan African Movement Leadership

Indo Carib Leaders must Emulate Pan African Movement Leadership

Photo : Dr. Vishnu Bisram

Eusi Kwayana, an Africanist and a leader of the Pan African Movement of Guyana and the organization itself have come out publicly condemning the African PNC led government of Guyana over its termination of newspaper columns written by two Afro-centric writers David Hinds and Lincoln Lewis. Kwayana, Lewis, Hinds and African organizations champion African causes and issues. The Indo Caribbean leadership and intellectuals (academics) as well as Indian writers need to emulate the courage and outspokenness of Kwayana, other Africanists and African organizations to speak out when perceived injustices are meted out to members of the Indian community or any other ethnic group. Silence must not be an option by Indian leadership or academics or writers as it breeds more injustice, and those who are silent may very well end up being victims of injustice as happened during the Burnham period as well as under Idi Amin rule in Uganda.

When regular Chronicle columns written by Indians were suddenly terminated in 2015 by this same PNC led government, neither Kwayana nor his Pan Africanist movement condemned the government. But he and his organization and other Africanists spoke out against the government on the Hinds/Lewis matter. Contrast this with Indian leadership, writers and organizations; they were silent over the termination of several Indian columnists in state owned Chronicle newspaper and other government media. I and a few other Indian activists like Ravi Dev chastised the African led government over its attack of the Rickey Singh column and the removal of Indian columnists, journalists, editors, and the editor in chief Mark Ramotar replacing them with at least 10 Black writers. Indians on state owned TV and radio stations were also replaced by Blacks when the government changed in 2015 without a voice of protest from Hinds, Lewis or Kwayana.

Hinds is African Studies Professor in America while Lewis is the leading Africanist trade unionist in Guyana. They have been speaking courageously on issues impacting on Blacks over the last thirty years. They were critics of the PPP administration between 1992 and 2015. Both Hinds and Lewis were columnists in the state owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper. They replaced Indian columnists when the PPP government was replaced by the PNC led government in 2015. 

The two columnists campaigned for the removal of the PPP government and they generally support the PNC led government. But some of their columns are critical of the government especially on the issue of corruption and not doing enough for poor Blacks among other matters. There are no equivalent columnists like them among Indians. They write from an African perspective. Their columns were terminated a month ago leading to a storm of verbal protest by some Africanists - even though they were replaced by Black columnists, not Indian.  Four directors, all Africans, of Chronicle resigned in protest over the termination of the columns. When columns written by Indians were terminated and when Indians in the state owned media were replace by Blacks, they lost their voice. Chronicle has nine directors, with only one being Indian. The management of the paper as indeed the state owned TV and radio stations is almost exclusively African. The country's population is approximately 43 percent Indian and 29 percent African, 10% Amerindian and the rest Mixed with less than 1% European and Chinese. When the government terminated Indians columnists and removed so many Indians from the media, there was not a voice of protest. The sole Indian on the government board did not even utter a word of dissent.

I salute Kwayana and the Pan African Movement as well as other Africanists for taking up the Hinds and Lewis matter. When will Indian leadership, writers and intellectuals (academics) emulate Africans to develop the courage to speak up on behalf of members of their community who have been victims of injustice (in the media and elsewhere) by the PNC led government in Guyana?