The Black condition and Cuffy250’s state of the African-Guyanese Discourse

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Dr. David Hinds

Hinds’ Sight with Dr David Hinds

I JOIN Guyana in wishing the African-Guyanese brethren and sisterin a happy Emancipation. It feels good to hear more and more Guyanese, in particular African-Guyanese using the word, Emancipation, and celebrating its meaning. As is the case with most African-centred phenomena, it has been a struggle to insert Emancipation into the popular consciousness. I want to use my space today, not to engage in a “feel good” exchange, but to challenge African-Guyanese to take a hard and serious look at our collective condition.There can be no doubt about the tremendous contribution of the African- Guyanese in humanizing, nurturing, and holding Guyana together; a contribution that must always guarantee them a permanent role in the governance of the country. Guyana is incomplete without the African-Guyanese experience and contributions.
While 178 years after Emancipation, African-Guyanese have a lot to be proud of, we still have a lot of work to do to emancipate ourselves from self-hatred and cultural blindness or “Mental Slavery.’ African-Guyanese are guilty of derailing the foundation left by their ancestors. Somewhere along the way he/she lost his/her way. Somewhere along the way we lost faith in our ability to overcome. Somewhere along the way we dumped the emancipation spirit and stripped ourselves of our cultural clothing.
Every group has its strengths and they must be celebrated, but progress is premised not only on celebration of strengths, but on recognition of and struggle against weaknesses. That is one of the profound lessons of Emancipation. So, as we observe Emancipation, we must be conscious of the challenges facing the African-Guyanese community; they are enormous.
It has always pained me to see Black people run from their blackness, but we seem to be slowly coming home. There has been no bigger sinner against the Blackman since emancipation, than the Blackman himself. Some Black people don’t seem to understand that you can be all you want to be–socialist, capitalist, Muslim, Christian, non-racist, multiracial–and still be Black. In a highly race-centred world, identity is a central part of one’s existence, especially when that identity happens to be a historically subjugated one. As Walter Rodney said, if someone uses your race to dehumanize you, then you must use your race to affirm your humanity.
I believe in the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind. But my brotherhood to those of another ethnic group is a sham if I deny my own ethnic identity, or, worse yet, hate it. It pains to see and hear some Black people trying to act whiter than whites. As the calypsonian, Chalkdust, so accurately puts it in one of his most profound calypsos “Though slavery done…there are some black people still providing whites with jokes…How can a Barbadian be more Yankee more than a Yankee…Them people laughing at we.”
This Emancipation anniversary is a good time to start correcting some of those wrongs. The African in Guyana must begin the task of self-love today. He must begin sending his children to school again. She must begin to engage in productive economic activity, both individually and collectively. He must support Black endeavours, not out of spite against another race, but out of genuine intra-group solidarity. She must join African cultural organisations.
Whether in Guyana or the Diaspora, the African man and woman must organise not simply to put a party in power, but more importantly, they must organise to recapture their cultural balance. He/ she must fight not for racial/political domination, but for equality of opportunity, equality in management and equality of outcome. Being insulting and aggressive to, and jealous and contemptuous of other races do not lift your race. Being anti-Indian is not the same as being pro-Black.
How much longer will we continue this delusionary existence? How much longer will we continue to dance to the drum of defeat, while ignoring the drum of progress? I humbly submit that the African-Guyanese come to his/her senses. So, Mr and Miss African, ACDA, Cuffy250 and all the Pan-Africanists-Afrocentric elites and believers, after the Emancipation celebrations, it’s time to get to work. Don’t wait for next August, the task of emancipation is constant.
Cuffy 250
Cuffy250 sets the ball rolling on Sunday, August 7, when hundreds of African- Guyanese are expected to meet at the Critchlow Auditorium for the fourth annual State of the African-Guyanese forum organised by the Black Consciousness organisation Cuffy250. The forum will be addressed by President David Granger and others.
The Cuffy 250 Committee came together in 2013 to observe the 250th anniversary of the Berbice Revolt, led by Cuffy, against the Slave System. We wanted to celebrate and draw inspiration from our foreparents who resisted slavery. We wanted people to remember that though enslaved against their will, they did not sit down and do nothing. They did not accept that they were born to be slaves. They resisted and fought back. But more than that, we wanted to draw attention to the deteriorating economic, political, social and cultural conditions in the African-Guyanese community today and to say to our people that just as your fore-parents struggled to change their situation, you can do so today.
This year’s forum is being held under the theme: African-Guyanese Self-Realisation: Challenges and Prospects for the next 50 years. The forum will discuss the way forward for African-Guyanese and help chart an African-Guyanese Cultural and Socio-Economic agenda as part of the larger national thrust for the next 50 years of independence.
Among the topics to be discussed are: The Restoration of the Village Economy; Reparations; African-Guyanese and Entrepreunership; African-Guyanese and Social Cohesion; Education and African-Guyanese Empowerment; African- Guyanese Self-Activity; and Centreing African-Guyanese in Guyana’s Socio-Economic Agenda.
The proceedings begin at 9am at the Critchlow Labour College. Registration is $300. To pre-register call 663-1549. Apart from the President, other speakers include Eric Phillips, Judy Semple, Vincent Alexander, Dr. Simpson DaSilva, Norman Ng a Qui, Norwell Hinds, Dr Grantley Walrond, Floyd Haynes, Estherene Adams, Elsie Harry and Dr David Hinds.
More of Dr. Hinds ‘writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com. Send comments to dhinds6106@aol.com