They came in throngs, expecting the unexpected, but were not disappointed. They weren’t sure, but were more curious, anticipating what they were yearning for. The precedent was already created, and so they were hoping the rest would be routine, a matter of mere formality.
A jovial crowd, hustling and bustling, cheering as they went along, man, woman, boy, girl, child came running, shouting, waving gleefully, hoping to catch his eyes, wanting an acknowledgment. They wanted to touch him, some shyly shaking hands while others took delight in proudly pounding fists, firmly but lovingly. It was a bright and sunny day, a holiday, and Guyana wanted to relax and enjoy a nice and quiet day; but it wasn’t to be one of those serene days.
He came not to disturb the peace, but to provide, promote, and protect the policy, principle and philosophy of peace, progress, and prosperity.
Yes, “the people’s choice” came to meet and greet the community in his walkabout, grounding with the residents of Linden, and embracing all the eager ones who could not help hugging their idol, retaining fond memories for eons to come, so that the story will be forever told for generations to come. It was a ‘Kodak’ moment for many, who took pleasure in posing with this iconic figure, and having their pictures taken in order for this unforgettable day to be recorded permanently, so that they can beam, boast and brag about this accomplished feat.
Unlike his predecessor — who travelled with a large contingent; ensured that his heavily-financed visit was well announced upfront, so that there would be lavish preparation of food, drinks and entertainment; have hundreds of people encouraged and ordered to line in queues despite the hot sun and long waiting; have large placards, posters and decorations prominently displayed; have a barrage of Police and security personnel endlessly visible; have areas cordoned off to provide a false sense of security risk; have places conveniently looking spick and span — this unexpected visitor, who walked the streets like an ordinary citizen, did not come only to pose for pictures, kiss and pat babies, claim votes, stir trouble, fool the people, make false promises and then disappear. This colossal emblem of trust, hope and faith chose to allow the people to have their say; listened to their problems; let them air their grievances, complaints, issues and opinions; and then offered suggestions, ideas and recommendations in order to alleviate their concerns and provide resolutions unconditionally and freely.
He resolved some of their matters on the spot, redirected some to the correct source for action, and some cases needed more investigation and information.
The residents were frank and fair, and spoke their minds, happy to be given opportunity to speak without fear or favour; and they asked questions that were gladly answered. They heard what pleased their ears, and felt satisfied that this simple visitation was not in vain, but was significantly consequential.
They saw the humbleness in a fellow human being who willingly brought himself down to their level in order to mix and mingle, and not as someone aloof or important or official. His smile provided a warmth that made them feel reassured of his presence, and that any promise he made would be sincere. As he laughed and joked, they clutched more to him, and hung on longer to his company, while unfortunately preventing others from getting as close to him as they did.
Desirous of improving their quality of living, this highly influential figure stated his reason for visiting, “I’m just here throughout different communities today to come to you, to listen to you, and to see how we can work together; because what we want to do is uplift all of Guyana.” Politics was a foreign language on that day.
He continued without being aggressive, but having patience while valuing time, by interjecting, “I don’t have time to waste on nonsense, on stupid talk and division and stupidity; that’s not me.” Being a social worker was closer to home. He clearly came to the point with clarity, and related his objective: “All I want to hear about is how we bring this country together, how we can love each other, how we uplift each other, (and) how we uplift the communities and uplift the country.”
He showed empathy and understanding by admitting, “We know every community has different challenges. That is why today I am here to listen to you.” He wore the cap of the man in the street.
In the end, it was the residents who were overwhelmed with joy, and they did express their gratitude without any reservation. One such among those who had gathered conveyed his thanks and appreciation, while at the said time summing up the feelings of all by blurting out, “I am pleased and happy that you came by foot, and not by vehicle.”
Linden residents certainly were not ungrateful, not in any shape or form. They came, they saw, they spoke, they questioned, they asked; they were answered, they heard, and eventually they were conquered with the love, fellowship, and affection of the man who simply came to extend a helping hand and asked for nothing in return; the man who preaches and practises the unity of “One Guyana”; the People’s Proletarian President, Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali.