SOMETHING happened to the Guyanese nation on the night of June 13, 1980. In one exploding instant, we lost our innocence. We inflicted grievous psycho-emotional harm to the Guyanese body politic. Today, our psyche suffers the stain of that dark night.
Guyanese want answers to why our nation stumbles through history, and today, nearly 50 years after political Independence from Britain, struggles to develop.
The Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry provides a platform for such answers to come forth, for a semblance of justice to heal Guyana.
The Commission is a kind of Freudian exercise in soul cleansing.
Just as an individual human person needs to introspect and exercise intellectual effort to build a good, solid life, a nation must also learn the art of self-healing.
Making a nation is no easy task, and no one in the Commonwealth Caribbean knows that more than we Guyanese.
The metaphor of the body politic applies well to a nation, to our country Guyana. Thus, the characteristics of a human being, of the body with its mental and emotional makeup, apply to a nation.
Just like a sick person, crippled in his or her development at a young age, needs to learn self-healing, go through therapy, and know the mistakes of the past that caused the derailment of his or her life, a nation must also look back in order to pave the way forward into a workable, inspiring, developed future.
In any nation, excessive political power leads to a grotesque disability of the national soul, to a mental handicap. Excessive abuse of political power is a Machiavellian madness, a mental condition, a psycho-emotional disturbance.
Any human being in such a state would need intense psychotherapy. Any human being who suffered abuse causing such a devastating disability as a child needs intense therapeutic healing. The same with a nation like Guyana.
The Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry is the platform for Guyanese to exercise that psycho-emotional therapy on the Guyanese soul, to heal the mental damage that decades of repressive rule under the People’s National Congress dictatorship, lasting two decades, foisted upon the fledgling Guyana nation, which impact we still feel today, in governance, local communities and the devastation of our national institutions, including the State, Police Force and Army.
This nation first blamed the British for our psychopathic socio-economic state, then we blamed the American imperialists, then we blamed the political parties. But we never sit down to rationally search our hearts, our minds, our souls, to introspect and exercise intellectual effort, to heal ourselves.
Instead we look for a punching bag to scapegoat, and proceed to beat it senseless, in the process beating up on ourselves – the very personification of mental disability.
The Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry seeks to heal that gaping wound that left its mark upon the heart and soul of the Guyanese nation, on that day, June 13, 1980, when we had become so barbaric and inhumane and low that we assassinated our own great Dr. Walter Rodney, who was a world famous historian, brilliant scholar and a liberator of oppressed peoples everywhere. He got his Doctorate at the age of 24. This gifted Guyanese turned his attention to his own homeland, Guyana, to free us Guyanese from a tyrannical dictatorship Government.
And we killed him.
We used State resources and taxpayers’ money to conspire, execute and cover up this political and criminal act.
But not only did we assassinate this gentle soul, we proceeded to carry on as a nation, marching into the future with this awful crime, this terrible psychic wound, on our conscience and soul and heart: the Guyana Body Politic for 34 years has limped around wounded. We need some kind of healing if we are to move forward.
President Donald Ramotar convened the Commission not for his whims and fancy. In fact, President Cheddi Jagan tried since 1992 to perform this healing surgery on the Guyana Body Politic. But the French Government refused to extradite the main suspect in Dr. Rodney’s murder, ex-Army officer Gregory Smith, from French Guiana, to testify. President Jagan had to abandon the effort.
President Bharrat Jagdeo also made efforts, but leaders of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) asked President Jagdeo to put the Commission on hold because of the upcoming 2006 national elections.
Finally, in 2014, President Ramotar successfully convened the Presidential Commission.
These are the facts, not political, emotional, paranoid or prejudicial speculation.
If the current Government displays any inefficiency or unprofessional conduct regarding the Commission, my view is that it’s merely a metaphor of the state of the Guyanese society, the very thing the Commission’s work would aid in healing. For everything in this society gets tainted with inefficiency and unprofessionalism. Government suffers as much as the average Guyanese from our psychologically and emotionally dysfunctional state.
If Nelson Mandela exercised wisdom to build a national platform for South Africa’s healing, from grave abuses of human rights and social justice, how much more should Guyana exorcise the demons that bedevil its soul?
In Mandela’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa found space to perform necessary surgery on its cancerous soul, thus finding some psycho-emotional healing as a nation.
Guyana has not set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but in the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, we see the first step to exercise that Freudian psycho-therapy that will provide some healing of the gaping wound on our national heart and soul inflicted on June 13, 1980.
Witness after witness at the Commission testify how free and relieved they feel to bare their soul of their role in the events of that day.
The Commission of Inquiry is a dynamic process. It cannot be fixed and rigid in its work. And that dynamic flexibility lies with the authority of the Commissioners, especially Chairman Sir Richard Cheltenham.
The Commission cannot be accused of unprofessionalism, as not only are the three members distinguished Caribbean legal luminaries, but they are also well-respected in their work in the Commission so far.
Persons have expressed concern that Guyanese taxpayers pay the bill for the Commission, and to keep extending its life until its work, findings and therapeutic process are completed is to waste tax payers’ money.
First, this is an insult to the Commissioners, as it assumes they would waste financial resources in wanton fashion. As professionals, the Commissioners exercise discretion, ethics and morals, and to slight their character with suggestions of financial waste is dishonest and improper.
Second, President Ramotar and the Ministry of Legal Affairs must be guided by the Commission as to its life and the time it takes to arrive at its results. Government dictat in no way plays a role at the Commission: Sir Cheltenham would never tolerate that; nor any of the Commissioners.
Third, what’s the cost for healing one’s soul? What’s the cost for psycho-therapy to heal that murderous June 13, 1980 wound that afflicts the Guyanese Body Politic? What’s the price for ignoring the sickness in our soul that was inflicted so brutally when that bomb echoed across Georgetown at 8:15 pm on the night of June 13, 1980? What’s the price for cleansing our history of this grotesque deformity? What’s the price for healing the Guyanese nation?
What’s the price?
Any person seeking therapy pays a hefty price. The Guyanese nation, over the past 34 years, has already paid a terrible sacrifice, in the socio-economic and politico-cultural and psycho-emotional damage that defined the Guyanese nation all these decades. And indeed still does.
Just like justice, healing, a sense of closure, and comfort comes to the family of Dr. Rodney through the process of the work of the Commission, the Guyanese nation, each and every one of us, will experience the peace and healing and justice that the Commission’s work will engineer and generate in our soul.
The Guyanese nation will see a terrible burden lifted off our national psyche, and indeed we are already starting to feel this happening, to feel the lightness and the peace that comes with facing our past, with exercising the courage, wisdom and strength to perform necessary surgery on a wound that afflicted and crippled our socio-political self for decades.
No individual could live without answers to wrongs against him or herself. We all want justice, healing, therapy, a cleansing of the muck and blood and sweat and tears that reduced us to a pitiable state. Thus it is as well with a nation.
In 2014, it would do us all well to gather together to engage in this conversation, with full candour and openness and good conscience: to talk out our deformities and disabilities.
A time will come when other injustices in this nation would have to be thus addressed. For now, it’s time to deal with the profoundly sad death of Dr. Walter Rodney. This is the single most important healing that the Guyanese soul needs before we could move forward as one people, one nation, with one destiny.
The best outcome of the Commission of Inquiry would be an authentic, heartfelt, national apology from the People’s National Congress (PNC) for the decades of socio-economic hardship that Guyanese suffered for so many years; and to the family of Dr. Walter Rodney for his death and brutal assassination.
Guyanese today want answers from the PNC for its role in Government, and from the State organs that abused citizen rights in pursuit of dictatorial power, to cement the Party’s paramount place in the Guyanese society.
Should we all just ignore the decades of our dysfunctional past, and move on? I would suggest that our Guyanese nation would only continue its fractured stumbling into a default future of stunted socio-economic development if we do not perform the kind of psycho-surgery the Walter Rodney Commission of inquiry is accomplishing today.
The Commission of Inquiry into Dr. Rodney’s death constitutes a necessary Freudian therapeutic healing process, to rid us of the political Machiavellian madness that crippled our socio-cultural self as we grew to be 48 years old.
Isn’t it time, before we turn 50 years old, still crippled in our Guyanese psyche, still stooped in psychopathic woundedness?
SHAUN MICHAEL SAMAROO