And only with honesty can we save the collateral fall out
IT BEGAN in the late 1980s, early 1990s; thousands of jobs were lost on the water- ront. The beginnings of Georgetown were that of a port-town, but by the modern periods mentioned above, modernisation had ended its labour-intensive force; they were not the only ones. The public service, printing jobs in media, advertising agencies all would demand less labour. In the advent of Facebook and other media, internet and email would further terminate bodies like office assistants, copywriters, filing clerks and paste-up artists. International commerce and priorities have diminished the capacity of both bauxite and sugar, loss of jobs continue, none of this can be attributed to ‘local politics.’ Even contracting sites don’t require ‘labour,’ most teams are all skilled. Still, there are those, thousands among us who are semi-literate and illiterate, who need to live, but how? Around all of us is a virtual world, through the crystal balls of smartphones, tablets, Facebook, smart TVs and malls that are now a norm in Guyana, that are shaping the values of ‘the good life.’ Much of this is advertising projections that are targeted at small, top-earning groups. I read about this phenomenon some time ago in a special edition of Newsweek, December2005 to February 2006, titled: “The Knowledge Revolution. Why victory will go to the Smartest Nations & Companies’: “Finally, the very forces of concentration fuelling the growth of the global creative economy are also giving rise to levels of extreme inequality between the relatively small number of advantaged regions and the rest of the world. Friedman argues that “you no longer have to emigrate in order to innovate” But for the vast majority of the world’s population, that doesn’t hold true.’ March 16-17, 1994; a workshop of the CARICOM Directors of Culture was held at the then CARICOM Secretariat. The chairman was a friend of mine and a creative person, Carol Lawes. Guyana was well represented by administrators relating to cultural activities but void of the understanding and motive of how to develop the procedures to engrain talents into industry.
Even so, the government in 1994 was ambivalent and benighted to matters that determined ‘Guyanese Culture’; thus, any recommendation that emerged from that historic meet would not have fallen like the proverb implies, “Throwing watta pon duck back.” Thus, the landscape remained the same as if that conference had never existed with automaton response to international impositions, like CARIFESTA, Mashramani. But no innovative movement that reflected inspiration from within or without towards expanding the economy via the means of cultural industries. This atmosphere was recognised by the APNU+AFC government after 2015 even as the inevitable contraction of the sugar industry loomed, and a recognition of how many drop-outs existed in the nation and where the trade winds of our times were blowing on an ill-prepared Guyana. That training had to be intensified among our youth in every vocational area. STEM had to be activated, the Business of the Arts had to be adhered to, because, becoming an oil-rich nation with an inept working and career-building population, unable to appreciate, understand and emulate what previous generations have done, both positive and in-error, and with no vision impetus is a prerequisite for colonisation, and modern colonisation is far worse than its historic 18&19th centuries definitions.
Managing new platforms are complex, knowledge-based driven, for the Arts, Sports, Technology, legal astuteness all overlap, into a must-know, no room for crucial errors structure, to which costs must be attached before any début celebration can be justifiably announced. It is acknowledged that no efforts to divert this economy were ever attempted during the past administratio, using the reference expertise of the population within a hands-on awareness collaboration, outside of the common impediment of our political and social culture of comfortable with clueless kith, kin and kindred inclusion that always lead to the counterproductive failure of any idea. Two declarations in 2016, the president’s referring to the opening of the aluminium plant, and “Tackling unemployment, to expand private enterprise to address unemployment, by the then Minister of Business.” I’ll begin with the former, in reference to the by-product of Kaolin-bauxite ceramic proppants which was described by a chemist, Ras Dalgetty, that it was suitable for the production of ceramic ware, commercial and industrial products and ornaments. This I had learnt from a conversation some time ago from the Ras, about the potential of this by-product. The other statement would, among other areas, involve cultural industries. I have inputs in this area, understand its potential but recognise that the absence of broader knowledge in how to interpret its structure and physiology will strangle any development, including this. With incomprehensible, accustomed bizarre interpretations, if handled by officials who are fixed in templates that hinders rather than expedite along its original mandate. It is the broad realm of cultural industries and cultural policy that I will expound on in this and a following article, especially now that for the first time since our independence, courtesy of this administration in the context of expanding our economy, relevant to the expertise of citizens that represent an awakened platform of industries, continuously existing, but are stymied, high-potential areas.
I will begin with an example of what I mean by a hovering impediment to creating new platforms, when the Honourable Minister Winston Jordan issued me, after some deliberations, with an executive letter on cabinet’s approval for a subvention to cultural industries, which represent registered businesses (struggling) that employ their talents towards their livelihoods. We- myself and Burchmore Simon- were directed to the office of PS Welch at the Ministry of Education. The PS was not pretentious; he immediately admitted to having no expertise in our area, so we both packaged itemised presentations on our agenda. The PS then arranged for us to speak to his assistant, a pretty young lady to further inform on what is and are, the need/s of cultural industries. In the exchange the young lady enquired, in words to the effect, “So you will get this subvention in the budget, you’re not going to want to get this every year, right?” I had to regroup to politely answer, “Well we’ll follow the public servants, so when you get the coming raise of pay, you wouldn’t [need] one for the next few years, no allowances or duty-free concessions either.”
What amazed me was that our collective ancestors after the 1834 abolition of slavery were forced to give the planters a following four years of a ‘Subvention of Labour’ erroneously masked in full view as ‘apprenticeship.’ This was an indicator of an unprepared mindset, that pray, the public service college emancipates.