TRUE EMANCIPATION!

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The declaration of housing every Guyanese family

THE declaration and obvious commitment by this government to place an owned roof over the head of every Guyanese, is evidence of true emancipation. We have had mind-altering experiences without the substance with respect to the horrible conditions of the boundaries and fetters of the tenant-hood experience— its tensions, torments and challenges not to follow one’s personal Lucifer, whispering how to deal with an obvious, unreasonable tormentor and persecutor personified as a landlord/lady, not to pretend that some tenants can prove even more vicious, unscrupulous and aggressive than the worst landlord.

That conflict, however, has long been a driving force behind stress in our country, especially Georgetown, and many have indulged in repressive memories to continue; but do repressive memories alter the biological harm done? A classic example is this reference to a lady I know in Queenstown who thought that the inherited property she owned was supposed to work as a prosperous business, but never contemplated that a fraction of the rent received that enabled an admired lifestyle should be reserved for addressing the deterioration of the property. Next, the tenants are forced to buy plastic ware during the rainy weather to catch the outpour through leaking roofs, while the landlady lobbied her children to raise the sizeable sum to fix the roof over the heads of the wretched source of her income, and they in turn struggle with acquiring of the sum that is needed towards the renting of another living space.

A task that demands a tactical assessment of the area, location and commuting to work and back against the background of a new, unknown possible psychosis that exists or may have existed within this new space. I say this from the experience of executing advertisements for a client who had a landlord who sat on his veranda and watched customers go in and out and would approach my client within every five months for a raise in the rent. Eventually, my client moved and to our surprise, the property owner attempted to mimic the same business, and as with most mimicry, the landlord and his son’s attempt diminished, and the place was once more up for rent in less than a year, like the plot of a B-rated horror movie.

I have encouraged friends to read the Monday, October 29, 2018 article in the Chronicle newspaper titled, “Workplace stress can be very dangerous—stroke survivors warned.” Workplace stress and dangers are known and can be dangerous at various levels. The article outlined the causes and pros and cons of stress that lead to what my mom called the ‘silent killer’; this is an article every male especially, should have in his scrapbook. But there are prevalent events outside of the workplace that also contribute — domestic pressures that are not always relationship-based, but rather fitted into the genetic, culturally inherited mandate of responsibility. Real men adhere to the unspoken task to make their family comfortable. In the threat or failure to do this, he sleeps less, drinks a little more, misses the symptoms about his health, and most times in the financial arena of what confronts him, places himself lower on the list, against what he can afford.

The article did not provide a gender table of Stress/Stroke victims, but I am sure more males have fallen victim, and if you get closer to male exchanges, owning one’s home is critical, against the victimhood of tenancy, and due to the stresses imposed on their families of which they are helpless to defend against, the desperate feeling of helplessness is the ultimate detrimental factor. Our historians do not tie in the social anthropology into their narratives when they state that after Emancipation more victims of insanity were visible, and at the same time, reporting that housing and crowding were depressing social factors, see –A History of Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905 by Walter Rodney pgs ‘Henry Kirke magistrate and sheriff of Demerara comments’ 195-97. A relevant report was cited, but not identified for some reason in the West on Trial by Cheddi Jagan also reveal as follows,“A survey completed in 1943 indicated a steady increase in the cost of living since 1938. In 1942 according to the survey, the cost of living was about 60 percent higher than in 1938. The report revealed that a Georgetown working-class family of 4.8 persons earned $7.41 but spent $8.23 per week. At that time the wage rate was 72 cents per day. The explanation for expenditure exceeding income was that people owed rent to landlords and money to shopkeepers from whom they were buying on credit. In other words, they were living through one week on the anticipated earnings of the next.”

Thus, the evidence shows that certain health afflictions are related to unstable social conditions such as rent, wages and family demands. Both guiding males in my life, my godfather and father, held government jobs but were tradesmen, the former a plumber, the latter a joiner/contractor, which they practised in their own time. I can quickly analyse why they didn’t get rich: they both were contained in the cultural directive to adopt the concerns of relatives as patrons.

This is a different world we live in today. The rise of home-run businesses is significant worldwide; the architecture of a home must include a ‘Study area’ for computers and related furniture. This adjustment is no longer a fad; these are practical necessities for children in school and most home-run businesses, since Facebook is an advertising platform as well as a social interaction and assessment medium. Thus, the emancipation from renting from cash intensive landlords/ladies will have positive health, social and economic returns. I can remember as a new teen, the negative assertions about the south Georgetown populations moving into South Ruimveldt, many from the tenement yards. Most of them demonstrated a transformation upon home ownership, contrasting the lustreless moods common in their former dwellings. The other philosophy of ‘Don’t change what works’ of the banks is where the President, CEO Lelon Saul and Minister Bulkan will have their greatest challenge. In closing, also, when are our housing development designers going to evolve to recognise that proper pavements are an essential component of possible new townships? We are not an island after all.