It is time

I believe that people deserve to the know the truth.
I believe that people deserve to the know the truth.

Our country is small and our people are inescapably connected. I believe that last May we began the fight to take Guyana back; to give her the sort of grooming she deserved these past 50 years.

The more I think of where we were and where we are today, the more I see that many of those people who lead us carry heavy hearts full of anger, hate and bitterness. And their eyes are blind to the flaws of their own people, those people who are part of their special class.

This class of people, they look at us with their good faces smoothed into expressions that we want to see and they tell us the things that we want to hear. But worst of all, they promise us things; things that if given will strip them of their assurance of power. This is how I know their promises are empty.

Let me tell you what politics will gift you on our 50th anniversary as a free nation. It will gift you hurt and anger and disillusionment and it will attempt to rob you of hope – what little you have left. In the end, you will ask this question over and over: were we ever a free people?

Now is not the time to settle and be quiet and accept that things will change. Now is the time to let our hearts be stirred so that our minds will become rational beasts with clear sight. Now is the time to take Guyana from its class of oppressors. And now is the time to answer them; not with violence, but with love, with logic and with peace.

And make no mistake, our oppressor has not been this person or that person or this group or that group. Our oppressor has been an idea; an idea which is holy to that special class of people. Our oppressor has been our tradition of politics and the leaders who have been its victims.

I know that you may want to believe that we can be saved by this side or that side, by this existing group or that existing group. But no one can save us but ourselves because if you compare both sides you will see how similar they are and you will see that their agenda is no different. The two decades before May 2015 were one group’s time and now this is another group’s time, their time to reign.

They told us that it is time and they were right. It is time to see them for what they really are, to see that they were never sincere and that they cannot forgive. It is time to see that hate and bitterness drive them in a power struggle that robs us; robs us of our lives and our time, things that can never be returned.

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Youths under a new government

I believe that people deserve to know the truth.

In his introductory speech to the 2016 budget, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan said that the Coalition government consulted youths from across the country. He also used the opportunity to take a jab at the PPP Opposition about their refusal to participate in these budget consultations.

The minister’s statement seems to suggest that young people currently enjoy inclusivity. Perhaps this is true for some. But for others, particularly the independent thinkers, there is only an increasing feeling of frustration.

Last May, politics was trending among the young. Everyone wanted to overthrow the PPP government but not everyone understood why this was so important. Those people who bought into the “good” and “evil” labelling believed that changing government would cause flawed systems which were decades old to disappear.

I’ve heard many people – taxi and minibus drivers, housewives, businessmen, teachers, other professionals and all their children – mutter that we’ve replaced one set of scamps with another set of scamps. My answer is always the same: it’s not about the people, it’s about the flawed political system and its foundational ideas.

I began hearing the whispers of disappointment during the Coalition’s 2015 campaign. Many of the independent thinkers were disappointed by the lack of organization and by the regimental manner of getting things done. One young man told me, it was as if thinking outside the box and having your own ideas was a cardinal sin.

I’ve heard a few former Coalition youths say that “there’s no thinking for yourself when you’re inside the camp”. I pointed out to them that I’ve heard similar sentiments from PPP youths as well. As is, most politicians are only interested in youths in so far as they can be manipulated to serve as political tools which can be used to gain and maintain power.

If we look at what is currently happening in Georgetown alone then I believe it gives us a true picture of what has been happening and what will continue to increasingly happen. There are youths who are contesting Local Government Elections either as part of independent groups or as individual candidates in the First-past-the-post component. What does this suggest and where will it lead?

More than one of them have told me that they believe leadership at the level of public office is all about service. And several went on to explain that many of our big party players seem to have forgotten that they are servants of the people and have, instead, become more interested in the political power race. There are those politicians who feel that now is their time to reign and pillage and rape the treasury.

Last March I attended a campaign meeting at Hadfield Street. President David Granger was in that room and I stood and spoke about online bullying of young PPP supporters. I said that I do not care if we do not agree with their beliefs or if we have somehow perceived ourselves to have been wronged by them, this does not give us the right to attack anyone. These days the bullying has leaked into the streets of Georgetown. An eye for an eye will blind the entire nation.

When the Coalition won the elections, they did not take an oath to serve only their supporters but they swore to serve every Guyanese regardless of their beliefs. And when the PPP lost the elections, they only lost the right to be the top dog in government. The PPP still sits on the other side of the house, they can still affect policies which govern our lives and they have a duty to represent not just their supporters but their nation. This is the duty of every politician.

The growing group of young independent thinkers has observed all these things, they discuss them in their circles and they are beginning to believe that parliament and big party politics, as they operate in the current flawed political system, are more divisive than cohesive.

It is within this context that young people are beginning to offer themselves to serve their communities and to pave the way to public office at a local level for their peers. And they are not standing to say that they believe they should lead because they are young. I’ve heard them say that they believe in service, that they believe it is their duty to their nation and that it is time for them to use the skills they have acquired to build our country.

And these young people are the children of the generations who sit in parliament. I see no reason for parents to be afraid of what they have created.

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To Anna Correia, Without Wax

Morgue File - Nov 22-11

Dear Anna Correia,

I would like to thank you most sincerely for giving me the opportunity to use you as an example of why many young Guyanese lose their voice before it can mature and why our national discourse is a bitter place full of knives, thorns and all sharp, cutting things.

In your letter to the Kaieteur News yesterday, you identified my brand “Without Wax” and accused me of being “ill-informed”, of having a “sinister plot to mislead readers” and of promoting PR for Simona Broomes “whether voluntary or in exchange for pay”.

Anna, this is not about Simona Broomes and her honesty or lack thereof. If you had taken the time to research me and to develop an understanding of the context within which I write then I doubt you would have attacked me in such a manner. My rhetoric, Anna, is a complex thing and my praise is something to be taken with a cup of salt.

This, Anna, is about your need to bare your fangs and sink your teeth into a neck which belongs to a body that houses a brain and a heart that you do not know. If you had stopped at accusing me of being ill-informed”, Anna, then I would have assumed that you were simply expressing a difference of opinion and a passionate need to strip another woman.

But because you attempted to discredit me and paint me as “sinister” and evil and because you attempted to brand me, Anna, I had no choice but to answer you. And know that I am not answering you for myself, I am answering for those people who have found in my writings truth, comfort, knowledge and inspiration to keep fighting for Guyana.

Guyanese are not livestock, Anna, and no one has the right to brand them. We are – or at least all of us would be if we allowed ourselves – a free thinking people who are intelligent enough to have opinions without giving our souls.

I saw this picture of you, Anna, and I learnt that you worked for our country under the last People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government. In deconstructing my identity a while ago, I spoke much about the PPP’s role in upholding our race-based political system. Of course, the PPP is not the only party at fault. The People’s National Congress (PNC) which now comes under the APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) must also shoulder some of the responsibility for what we have become.

The point is, Anna, that though I saw you working within a certain sub-system of our political system I desisted from branding and attacking you. Where will this get us Anna? There are good people who work in bad systems and there are bad people who, I believe, are still capable of good if given the chance.

I have learnt, Anna, that we must be soft on people and hard on ideas. The political system we live under has bred a class of dictators – little kings and queens – who feed on our racial insecurities to cement their place of power. And when we look around, it is not this race or that race that is being victimised; it is a certain class of people, people who are not a part of that royal family, people who are reading this. You see Anna, Walter Rodney got it right.

Anger is not the solution, Anna. We cannot afford to get angry at each other. Because every time we allow ourselves to sink into bitterness and attack people who seem to disagree with us, we waste time that can be spent taking Guyana back from its oppressors.

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The Best Minister in the Coalition Government

Junior Minister of Natural Resoures Simona Broomes/ Guyana Time image
Junior Minister of Natural Resoures Simona Broomes/ Dwayne Hackett photo

Getting into politics in Guyana has always meant aligning yourself with one or the other major political parties and becoming branded. Too often, people with good intentions have entered politics and lost their individuality because the party image and baggage eats them up.

I believe that maintaining your individuality and always acting in favour of your personal beliefs is one of the most difficult things to do for someone who has entered public office through party politics. This is why I admire Simona Broomes, junior Minister of Natural Resources. Her voice is clear, she continues to be passionate about her beliefs and she does not hesitate to voice them.

It is because of her honesty and no nonsense attitude that many people are fast becoming supporters of Broomes. I hope that her call for police to “lock-up” and “charge” bar owners and parents who traffic young girls will be heeded and I trust that she will do her best to see that it translates into action.

Even if you don’t agree with most of what the Coalition government has done so far you can’t help but respect Simona Broomes. Progress is all about action and not about taking sides. I only hope that Broomes’ image and refreshing honesty remain untouched by the more sinister characters around her.

Blessings to Broomes the Best! (I couldn’t resist the alliteration, lol)

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Young people have no true champions but themselves

Towards the light

The following letter was first published in today’s edition of the Stabroek News. And while I wish they’d keep my without wax signature, I am grateful that my opinion has made their pages.

Dear Editor,

Governments will always begin with good intentions and they will always manage to turn some of these good intentions into actions which contain some good. But no matter how much good any government manages to do, there will always be things left to be done because their work is ongoing and endless. However, this does not serve as an excuse for inaction.

The first time I wrote to you, I spoke about Guyana’s culture of fear and silence and I predicted that young people would raise their voices to a certain degree. Those voices have been heard and last May we experienced a change in government. But of course, none of this means that the problem has been fully solved.

Last May, I believe that young people learnt their first and most important lesson; that is, their voices have value. Since then, I think a few of us are beginning to understand that the work has only now begun. Politicians will hear our voices and encourage its sound when it is beneficial to them. But after the battle has been won, youth are left to wander in the larger war that surrounds them.

Has academic merit proven to be something of more worth today than two, three or five years ago? Is it enough to get you – no matter who you are, what you look like and your beliefs – a scholarship or a job? Or is Guyana still about who you know and how deep your pocket runs? We’ve certainly changed government and we’ve had one ideology replaced with another but have we truly experienced a shift in political tradition?

President David Granger has spoken about youth since the commencement of his term. He has sworn to do many things to bring us back and keep us here. But I wish to inform him that if basic problems like the quality of service available from the Guyana Police Force or the Guyana Power and Light Company or the lack of good faith in the administration of justice are not addressed then Guyana will continue to lose us.

Where are all the youth champions now? Will they simply let a flawed system continue to operate?

I have learnt that young people have no true champion but themselves. It is time that we take our country. It is time for us to fight political manipulation and make our way into public office. We need a new breed of leaders who will create a new tradition of politics and I believe that the young men and women of this nation are ready.

Yours faithfully,

Sara Bharrat

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