THE complexities of our diversity cannot be hoped for to merge into a common ‘vibe’ without the efforts to even understand the basic structures that compose the values of our local humanity– to stand before the innate cultural and incestuous modes of practices that inhabit us based on fears from related experiences and shattered over expectations turned into fears and biases. Sometimes ancient inferiority complexes are transferred onto the collective other, disguised as a sense of baseless entitlement and delusional superiority. The reins of the chariots are held in some quarters by callous and insincere rabble-rousing leadership. Others are basic self-serving thieves; indifferent to whosoever and whatsoever cause they betray, they will gallop on either way.
A culture and the customs of its laws is what ensure its enduring evolution or stagnant state. In some cases, with thorough knowledge of the defects and strengths of the ‘culture’ can evolve the creation of enlightened ‘Laws’ that must be enforced against brother or sister, be it necessary. None of this is Guyanese as yet. Our history is too steeped in want, with quick betrayal to climb above the ‘All ah dem’ from the endemic memories of social and conspicuous restrictions, and we don’t know our history enough to evolve the comparisons honestly and sensibly, to recognise where it all began. Our group of cultures comes from different experiences. Each saw in Guyana a different interpretation, positively, most against geographical origins merged into a similar perception, but not all. Some are rooted in the privations of a past beyond these shores, a craving to fulfil a physical vacuum beyond millennia, caring none for the cultural language of Guyana that must be understood.
Seeking this thinking, from the chasm of its selfishness, possessed by alien norms and a world view now known and easily understood and despised, still it shouts and promises, enticing some, conning them with its lure of bribes. It knows that those who are awake understand the fraud it is. The age of ‘propaganda storytime,’ where the old-time bottom house fears are invoked, every fictional character and horrible skit fitted into place, by a seasoned political liar, who has told his story so many times even he believes it, but not enough to change places with the audience, even when he changes it with intent to deceive his victim, into believing he’s guilty, is fading away.
We understand well that the lesser light strives amid the multitude, but even the multitude has a memory. The culture has got to mature, to evolve and revalue the hold our ancient colonising spirits still have over us, in some cases before we came to these emerald shores. Our stereotypes and characters along ethnic lines were further developed by a colonial scriptwriter, which sections of Guyanese from their own history and ancestral nightmares were more ready to accept, digest and shift imaginary guilt and accusations upon others.
In Brian Moore’s book, he addresses differences that evolved over a longer period of conflict between the coloniser structure and the resisting colonised in ‘Cultural Power, Resistance and Pluralism in Colonial Guyana 1838-1900,’ the author concludes in respect to ‘Creole Culture’: “Unfortunately, it was to some degree devalued by even the most lowly in the social hierarchy and all too eagerly discarded by upwardly mobile black and coloured individuals who were ashamed of the long shadow of ‘disgrace’ which they were induced to believe it cast-because of the social stigma with which it was associated, Afro Creole Folk did not perform the same unifying role that the immigrant cultures, as we shall see, did. It was in very many respects prevented from promoting black ethnic group consciousness and cohesion. Creoles became a disparate ethnic category lacking a strong ideological and cultural identity by which to resist effectively the twin evils of imperialism and racialism.”
This is a fact to a point, but from beyond the1930s, job opportunities were regulated in some areas by the church you attended. You couldn’t enter some schools if you were not of a specific Christian denomination, with the emerging middle class, who your father was and family is, were criteria of acceptance. The system was based on establishing divisions, not on merit, and this seemed to have established itself long before Emancipation. ‘Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood’ Pg 27: “So many were the conflicts in the country that no one would have had difficulty endorsing a remark made in a letter sent to the Royal Gazette in August 1822: ‘There is not a country on the face of the earth, where classes are more numerous and party spirit more firmly rooted than in this. In a society with so many divisions and protocols, it would be impossible for the missionaries not to blunder.”
The revelation of this lies in the humble, low-class person who arrived from England to Demerara and becomes an authority on a plantation immediately; he adopts the airs of the lords and dukes who had tormented his genetic timeline for the past 1000 years, and roughly constructs a formula of pretentions and protocols to imitate, with himself at the helm, to become the torturer. This also happened with indentured Indians who could not culturally escape the narrative of the Hindu racial pageantry and transferred the conditions and caste from whence they came onto Africans. Many, however, as victims among their own, did seek sanctuary in Afro-Guyanese villages. The earliest awareness of racism my wife experienced as a child was from her father’s mom at the West Bank Demerara village of Pouderoyen. Her grandmother was a Madrasis who sternly warned them to fear Indians, especially the men. The essential Creole population, pertaining especially to the African, Amerindian, Chinese and Portuguese came from backgrounds that had class, religious and tribal hierarchies and prejudices, but did not have in their ancient history a religious doctrine of racial complexion demarcations directed with force supported by mythologies. Only the larger indentured groups from India had this in their perceptive thinking. The larger means that not all Indo-Guyanese that came during those periods were Hindus or came to execute estate work; some were independent of that system. What we lack today is the intellectually enlightened leadership to place history and culture as at times, imperfect foundations.
What we have are people who crave deceptive acknowledgement, would shamelessly forge a personal academic history, and not recognise that an honorary degree is a feature in the context of resumé and not a celebrated public title, but erroneously pronounce that they have done more than the legitimate leaders of the very people against whom they practised ideological racism.
Then there is a cultural vacuum which I will quickly analyse. If in office among one people when you execute that office in their interest, culturally translate to instant political homage, then the execution of officialdom becomes the conduit of bribery. You punish the ‘other’ because you don’t get the same homage if you build a bridge, because, in that culture, the cultural perception is, that you are placed in that office to work in the interest of the people. You build the bridge because it is your duty to do so, and it is appreciated. You are viewed as an honoured elder. There are different logical processes ascribed to Tribal against Caste and class imagination and logical thinking. It’s in our better interest to understand this.