I recently addressed a group of technical workers and hinted at the severity of change and its cause impact on the social disturbances of society, causing in the confusion and awareness of descending poverty the need to blame and hate not the source of the condition but the immediate presence of the political and ethnic other. I then invoked a memory, that was once the normal form, and asked if they knew what a shovel-man was. Only a senior employee answered affirmatively. Up to the late 70s, shovel men as a service labour group were active in rural areas and for some purposes in Georgetown and other townships. The shovel men had existed for centuries before the technology of mechanics replaced them and our scribes forgot them totally.
Every village canal, estate trench and latrine pit owed its existence to the skill of the ‘Shovel men’. So does the Lamaha Canal, which began in 1828 by enslaved African shovel men. Likewise, though the age of machinery was ever present in 1905-14, the shovel and spade in the hands of men were essential in the construction of the Panama Canal with its tragic and tremendous death toll. The flashback of the ‘Shovel men’ is a reference to the manmade changes that evolve in the methods, the tools, the preferences of items and commodities of trade that are rejected and discarded from traditional hierarchies, at times indifferent to the dependent humanity involved.
There was a category of workers identified as ‘the bull boy’. His job category was to attend to the needs of the bulls used for ploughing the rice fields up to the early 1960’. Tractors and combines eliminated his job category, which is hardly even remembered now. But this is how it has always been in our human world, and nature herself. Indifference to the accustomed, in contrast to its humanity who are confounded and without any interpretation of their practical and sustainable role on the stage of the ‘New’ with its revolutionary invasion, that has displaced and terminated their livelihoods. In the context of Guyana, the most misguiding and disruptive element against providing any clarity towards proactive measures to compete with the obvious clear indicators of change for the welfare of the populace, are our powers seeking political sects and the stereotyped mindset of conditioned bureaucrats.
Sugar is a current and still active discussion. Knowing the areas where unstable economics prevailed time and time again should have always been an omen for a continuous course of seeking further options in anticipation of pitfalls, which late President Desmond Hoyte had hinted to, towards sugar, but found disfavour with the then opposition, because the sugar belt was a voting catch-cow of votes; a traditional pool from indentureship onwards, not to be disrupted even by impending dismal possibilities. For me, it was a supplement (incredible for a newcomer like me) on Friday, March 13, 1987. The Role of Sugar in Guyana: the contents prepared by two bylines, that of Dr. Clive Thomas and Ana Benjamin.
This document should have been prepared as an illustrated booklet and distributed to not only schools but to parliamentarians, knowing what we know of many of them now. The highlight was the section subhead indicating “Guysuco-seeking stability, change”. All this was presented and discussed by a core of thinkers ignored by both the Union and the politicians who had declared ownership of the sugar workers, because, they did nothing. The nail was driven in the coffin board when the EU scrapped the Sugar protocol in 2007. So why were the sugar workers a political red flag in 2018, by the very now opposition and the eventual government that had adopted them before Independence and directed their emotions over the decades? There should be a law against promoting public mischief through lies. One of the current large job categories are defined in creole terms as ‘watchman wuk’ – The private security services, dealing with able-bodied but victims of the tech scythe reductions of clerks and other areas of recent old school employment. But this is an area of long exploitation. Up to August 2017, both the Minister of Social Protection and the PA to the Minister of Public Security were indicating the importance of Private Security, and at the same time lamenting and urging the need to observe the minimum wage act. My interpretation: pay people and not view and treat them with contempt.
President Granger is urging the philosophy towards applying one’s self to life skills, educating to not necessary to be a life employee, but rather to evolve and create employment. This is indeed a radical frontier that will require a national overhaul from what Imran Khan of DPI called “Dismantling the welfare state” Sunday, October 21, 2018 that stipulates ownership of citizens and even more, the macabre reverse to ownership of the state by immature elected servants of the people, the ultimate propensity of tyranny, that insists on the inhibition of natural expression and free will, to be subject to the limited mental allowances and perverse whims of ‘DE political Bossman.
The Frontier that the president recommends encourages one to arrest imagination and inspiration allowing the space and open-mindedness for interpretation into functioning systems across the ladder of our myriad human activities and interests, that can be transferred to economic benefits. Thus, changing how we think about how we do things must be discussed. People don’t just change, nor will responsibility be accepted for their inabilities and accustomed limitations. It would take radical discourse to convince a1980s thinking office assistant that he needs not to ride from office to office to deliver all the correspondences directed to him; that he/she must be able to email some of them and simply save in separate folders for records.
Now expand this simple reference and evaluate how anyone can say they will find 50, 000 jobs, knowing our economic realities and human resource faults, and did not self-censor and say “I can’t say that, it’s foolish and dishonest.”
This is where we are, frightening, but real.