Hamilton Green writes: “We are all victims of the divide and rule policy” (Kaieteur News Mar 11). Green obfuscates the issues in his reply to Harry Hargash’s letter. He attempts to institutionalise one race in perpetual suffering more than others which can only be a subtle attempt to establish both a legitimacy and rights to first preference entitlements. Not only does it completely demean African magnificence but it relegates them to a dependency by its conception repetition, advocacy and more implications. To operate some 175 years after Emancipation insisting slave descendants remain shackled in mental structures that impede their wellbeing while the descendants of indentured labourers Portuguese, Indians, Chinese and Amerindians have gotten over it and moved on can only be counterproductive as it is self damning.
Fortifying any debilitating mental entombment as legitimate in a Caribbean context cannot be acceptable but only guarantees a set up where some are racially ensured first class entitlements, others with second choices and still others who are silent with no entitlement rights at all in the ‘national patrimony’. By promoting that slaves suffered more, first entitlement rights accrue automatically. Exulting that African ownership (Prof Rex Nettleford) of the Caribbean when the colonials departed was automatic is guaranteeing that all other ethnic groups remain second fiddlers. Inevitably and without any inclusive debate or agreement, Guyanese are most definitely not destined for any unity or shared governance whatsoever regardless of our “one people, one nation, one destiny” motto or by any other criteria. By its rosy ‘Unity and Human development’ ‘ banner which the PNC seeks political power through a Trojan horse bait (which no one cannot deny is desirable), it is still employing trickery in counterfeit advertising. Was President Obama wrong in reminding us that a pig still remains a pig even when they put lipstick on it? How does anyone measure the inhumanity of suffering? Before slaves came to the Caribbean they historically enjoyed God given freedom to be themselves in their native natural forest habit. So what then made Indians the usual favourite targets to be brutalised and plundered by successive invaders for hundreds of years? The expansionist Alexander of Macedonia conquerors, invading Mughals, France’s Pondicherry, Portugal’s Goa and the British colonialists all found India desirous. Under foreign occupation for seeming eternity, Indians were all damaged goods hammered by successive foreign subjugation into lower economic castes and poverty. For an Indian to break the cultural taboo of crossing the ocean only added to their sunken self-esteem making them further stigmatised when they eventually arrived as confirmed labouring damaged goods. They were the last choice picked when all else failed. Returning to India only sunk them lower on the outcaste ladder.
Conscripted by grandiose promises into indentureship, on arrival, they were relegated to mud logies with open pit latrines as their homes. The freed unpaid slaves had moved on from this and bought plantations. Working daily under the hot sun, under the same slave masters from whom the slaves had become permanently emancipated was not easy. Their colonial masters were still the same in both British colonies. Frying pan was now open fire. However Indians, unlike the Portuguese and Chinese who left the plantation, were to incur the additional resentment of the freed slaves who saw them as interlopers undermining their rights. Has anything changed drastically (which is redeeming) in the resentment and sporadic wrath directed at Indian presence? Can resentment targeting Chinese upward mobility be justified or condoned? Slavery was undoubtedly dehumansing and a heinous crime to impose on human beings . But the European mentality which imposed it did not become overnight magnanimous masters who were inclined to anymore tolerate any financial losses from Indians so soon after their Portuguese and Chinese indentured abandoned the plantations. Such debilitating events can therefore only be best understood within its own ethnocentric historical narrative; not slavery versus indenturedship by which some Afrocentric advocacy remains ensnarled. To continue embracing such a fallacy only accentuates and prolongs Guyana’s race animosities however it is viewed. Discontinuing it, cannot make it any worse.
Hamilton Green and others must therefore cease this measuring scale of the weight of pain of slavery comparing it to indentured ship and assuming that one group has won the boxing match because of whatever. It just cannot be measured and conclusions are mostly deducted in the absence of unavailable, unpresented hard evidence. Constantly comparisons which ignore where any group has advanced not in absolute or even universal terms but in relation to other races only continues to reflect a distorted picture. With African perceptions entitling themselves as the natural primary inheritors of the Caribbean (Rex Nettleford) how hollow is any notion offering and demanding any equality or shared governance when the primary motive is not repudiated or readjusted but remains fixed in slavish embrace and finality? What is wrong and excites resentments is measuring and judging one’s achievements by that of other races’ successes. It begins to percolate and becomes more grievously fanned into riotous protests with all its destructive consequences and then expecting consoling satisfaction in monetary relief from taxpayers’ money.
Adding insult to injury is the bizarre insistence that not all indentured servants but especially Indians only began suffering only with indentureship with its termination in the reflection of the PPP/C in 1992. Apparently the successive foreign invasion and brutality imposed on Indian or Chinese before they arrived does not matter. Subsequent PNC misrule and atrocities are dismissed as miniscule and insignificant. Hamilton Green also seems to suggest that Afro Guyanese only can graduate from “tribulation to triumph” when they collectively hold political power and ‘pun top’. Such is the desirable euphoric closure versus ‘something else for others.’ Demanding partition has not been repudiated but has now become recalibrated into shared governance entitlement. That would imply the PPP/C government is a failure in not prioritising Indian interests as paramount similar to what the PNC ‘medicine’ did for black people when they were in government! Could any PPP/C perceived negligence account for increased Indian apathy and their reaction in the 2011 elections? The amusing irony is that Green as an Afrocentric advocate never found anything wrong in the PNC stacking the public service and armed forces with its supporters. But suddenly he now seems to feel that Africans are trapped therein with no chance or redeeming or equal possibilities! Shouldn’t the PNC bear the blame and responsibility? Green would completely ignore PNC policies which locked out Indo Guyanese from the civil service and armed forces. What choices did Indians have except to go into private business even as the majority remained in agriculture?