In the Kaieteur News of August 5, columnist Freddie Kissoon asserted that those Guyanese living abroad are not qualified to serve as moderators or hosts or interviewers of social media programs or to comment on matters pertaining to Guyana. This was his response to a request by Globespan owner Nohar Singh to appear on its live show that airs on Mondays and Wednesdays.
He penned: It is an “insult (to) my dignity and love of country” to be interviewed on Globespan. He made reference to Charles Sugrim, Asquith Rose, Dr. Vishnu Bisram and Prof Paul Tennassee as residing outside of Guyana and not au fait with Guyanese matters and as such not qualified as interviewers. Dr. Bisram occasionally appeared on Globespan; the others are regulars.
I watched Globespan’s programs on Guyana because it is interactive, interesting and informative. I especially watch Dr. Bisram and Tennassee whenever they are on because of their style of questioning and competency.
It is highly disrespectful and contemptuous for Freddie to devote his entire column on lambasting and perhaps belittling Mr. Nohar Singh’s Globespan New York YouTube show, and the Guyanese Diaspora by describing the program as “a caricature and a farce.”
For the record, Nohar played a role in the struggle for free and fair elections during the dictatorship (1983-1992) supporting the movement which I belonged in a variety of ways. And Globespan exposed the fraud between March 2 and August 2 2020. Globespan deserves honors for its coverage of and allowing appearances of individuals to denounce the fraud. The individuals, like Dr. Baytoram Ramharack, who served as hosts during that five months ordeal did not live in Guyana but were very effective in exposing the fraud resulting in a declaration of the outcome that expressed the democratic will of the voters. How could Freddie be so ungrateful towards them?
Freddie feels that those do not live in Guyana are not competent to discuss problems, issues, occurrences, projects, politics, social nuances, sociological factors in the country. I disagree. Freddie is no expert on the media. He is not the only one familiar with Guyana’s affairs. One doe snot have to live in Guyana permanently to be au fait of the nation’s affairs. There is something called studies and social media in addition to regular media where one is updated on the affairs of a nation.
I do not know Rose, Sugrim, and Tennassee and as such prefer not to comment on their capacity to understand Guyana. Tennassee fought Burnhamism and was tortured as were several other freedom fighters. I have known Drs Bisram and Ramharack since 1977, our college days. We initiated a movement and the struggle from 1977 onwards for the restoration of democracy in Guyana. They are brilliant intellectuals and writers. We traveled to Guyana frequently (during our study and teaching vacations annually) thru the 1990s crisscrossing the country and collaborating with the anti-dictatorial movement, including with Tennassee and his DLM. We went to almost every nook and corner of the coast and sections of the interior politicking. We were harassed and intimidated and even taken in for questioning about our activities. We probably visited and learned about more communities in Guyana than Freddie. Few, if any Guyanese visited Guyana as often as we did and few, if any, in the diaspora, had done more than Drs. Ramharack and Bisram for the liberation of Guyana. This continued post-1992. Dr. Bisram spent a lot of his time in Guyana over the last two decades and perhaps more time in Guyana than in the US over the last seven years. He writes extensively on socio-economic and political events of Guyana. Dr. Ramharack also writes frequently on topical issues pertaining to Guyana. Both of them also wrote their MA theses and PhD dissertations on Guyana. That makes them experts on Guyana as well as diaspora affairs.
Freddie emphasizes his ” long career in journalism and human rights activism”. Dr. Ramharack’s minor in college was journalism and has published extensively. One of Dr. Bisram’s minor was English and Writing. Both scholars have been penning articles in the media since 1977. No one from the diaspora has penned more articles in the media about Guyanese or on diaspora matters than Dr. Bisram
In the age of global connectivity, one does not have to live in Guyana to know happenings. The Diaspora knows more about what is going on in Guyana perhaps more than Freddie does because they have relatives all across Guyana and also those relatives and friends migrate or visit overseas at which time they disclose the true stories and issues in Guyana, beyond what is in the local news reports. Freddie does not travel all over Guyana and he confesses that he does not engage the public or relatives. He hardly attends meetings. He always writes about taking his dog for a walk, his tenure at UG and the politics around that and his Wortsmanville, Georgetown, experience. He is limited in politics to his WPA and Georgetown and later AFC experience. He is not known to have contributed to the restoration of democracy to Guyana during his several years abroad unlike say Drs. Ramharack and Bisram. The Diaspora’s political activism and the collapse of communism were the main reasons for the end to Guyana’s dictatorship. I salute the activism of the two of them and was proud to join them in that struggle, one which few overseas Guyanese participated.
Since restoration of democratic rule in 1992, the Diaspora community has been very much involved in Guyana’s politics and its people; and had it not been for them the Guyanese nation would have starved and Guyana’s economy most likely would have become much worse than Haiti, in the mid 70’s to the 90’s.
Freddie should not invoke his 30 years experience in the media to belittle or criticize others. There are many others more qualified than him on Guyana affairs and in journalism. He should not have been critical to a gentle request to appear on Globespan. Such disengagement can be seen as arrogance at a minimum or insanity at worse.
Among the Diaspora (Miami)