The Renata Burnette saga


I SAW, a few days ago, a video that was posted by University of Guyana student Renata Burnette. In the video, Renata chronicled through poetry her inability to get a job despite being sufficiently qualified, and her concerns about how young people — a substantial number of whom helped the ruling administration into office — have seemingly been discarded since the 2015 elections’ results were announced.

The video connected with me, as I’m sure it did with many young persons who would have, at some point, been told that they cannot work while pursuing higher education, or that they were not experienced enough for positions they might have applied for. Honestly, I can understand the position of employers who may not want in their employ a university student or someone who is fresh out of school; because, as an employer, you want to ensure the person has enough time to focus on the job they were hired to do, or is experienced enough to carry out those tasks.

But there of course came along President David Granger, who in recent times commented upon the possibilities of youth employment and stated that it is not the government’s responsibility to provide employment; youths should try to become more entrepreneurial.

President Granger’s comment, to me, represented Government’s disconnect with the poor and working class. I can understand where he was coming from, but one cannot at one stage say one cares for youths and will be there to provide jobs, and then turn around and state that it is not one’s responsibility to provide employment. It is easy for one to sit in an ivory tower and tell the masses that they need to help themselves now that one has reached a position of power on account of the sacrifice and hopes of the poor.

I know politicians are not known for keeping the majority of the promises they make during election season, and that no matter how strong their institutions are, they are not infallible. So, of course, it was expected that they would fall short on several of their promises; but, for some reason, it was honestly believed that they would at least stick to their major selling points, such as youth jobs, and accountability and transparency in their actions.

I remember that shortly after the election results were announced last year, a friend told me he was happy that I had gotten my wish for the PPP/C to no longer be in power, and that ‘my people’ were now there and he hoped they would be the change we really needed. I responded by saying that I hoped the same, but even if they fall victims to the dangers often seen in those who become ethically and morally bankrupt in the pursuit of power, there will be a second, third or fourth wave of change; because while many may see me and think I voted for race, I voted for visions that are able to make our country and the lives of its people better.

So that was the conversation I thought back to when I saw that video by Renata. Because whether the Government realises it or not, the same people who championed and went out in their numbers to vote are the ones that have become disillusioned. It would be easy to blame all the current issues on the past administration, but the people are constantly becoming more vigilant and perceptive of the wrongdoings of the current administration, as their public gaffes and intentional wrongdoing increases seemingly by week.

I know the government of the day cannot provide all a country needs, as there will of course be hindrances in their way. However, there should at least be some amount of effort on the Government’s part to put in place programmes and comprehensive reforms that would benefit not only the youths, but also every single person in the country. Because at the end of the day we don’t want lovely speeches about jobs for the poor and working class, we want actual jobs.