OUR national consciousness must be pushed to the maturity that will allow open exploration of examinations on race-based contentions within the pool of ‘our history, our social construct and the partition creeds pertaining to each contending group’ to analyse, and to recognise the indigenous developments. Inclusive of those imported from our previous roots and the overwhelming divisive elements influenced by the pseudo-human and cultural sciences prevalent in the cosmos of the colonial world and its nations that imposed their presence and ‘will’ of empowered fictions upon us through coercion and force.
The most effective applications, however, are the latent creeds that lingered within our spectrum of belief systems and fears, these can be manipulated to serve myriad purposes, for the simple reason that the origins of some contentions can be forgotten and thus replaced by a new logic, that is not contextually rational, but fits into the race-baiting chants that either attacks the self-esteem or arouses rage from the ‘other,’ setting alight a continuous passage of animosity.
The ERC, Human Rights, enlightened media contributors or any other institution alone, cannot impact enough, or to the extent necessary without the wider support of the citizenry. Political parties shall be the least of our contributors. Not to sociology, anthropology, psychology, or any particular related area of the humanities, arts or sciences that will take effort into translating unheard-of facts and theories, simplified enough to counter long-entrenched fictions and convincing dogmas imposed on our vulnerable masses. Though they do have the means to allow or disallow such a process in the interest of the national well-being.
To explore what our people or any people believe and how it affects their social interactions require attention and a study of precedents recorded over time, which can be cross-checked easily. Examples can be extracted and compared for comparisons in narratives uttered to justify historical events, for example, the language describing the Aztec priesthood describe them as sodomic, serving bloodthirsty Gods, practising cannibalism and having an unhygienic odour, meaning smelling bad. Enough reason to murder Montezuma and steal his gold and his nation, according to some interpreters of Cortés’s quest, which we cannot debate on facts, upon recognising some aspects to be true, from Aztec ‘graphic art’ human sacrifice representations, but if a closer exploration is taken, the thrust of the Spanish Kingdom was based on plunder as a priority, and the Moors also have a narrative of some similar experience with the Christian monks in Spain, who felt that not bathing would bring them closer to God. So the Moors created public baths and forced them to bathe, to relieve all from their stench. Racism became an essential tool to justify slavery and colonisation.
A strange European racism also emerged in the 19th century to justify their own poor as being responsible for their condition, absolving the nobility and landowners and the system of serfdom from all blame. The other impetus of the drive of colonialism that determines the type of narrative it conceives and gives life to is the type of struggle it must endure to achieve its goal from its targeted group. Colonisation is the essential reference point from which all clarifications for current race-related impediments in Guyana (or any other former colony) can be gauged.
Colonisation produced the immense volumes of pseudo academia that defined groups to correspond with their resistance, by race and religion. That would become to the subsequent ‘colonial’, his torch-bearer for defining self and his neighbour. Two quotations from the English first about Africa, “For two or three generations we show the Negro what we are: then we shall be asked to go away. Then we shall leave the land to those it belongs to, with the feeling that they have better business friends in us than in other white men” –Lord Lugard and next, the strange interpretation of India- “ India: the imperial summer” upon exploring opposing statements. Africa was many nations, which resulted in many wars, and unsettled peace. India was one country, defined by the Raj and the deals of the East India Company, thus making India easier to control.
Take for example Haiti, a sister nation of CARICOM: they defeated the armies of the aristocracy of slave-owning nations of 18th century, France, England and Spain, became the first nation in recorded history to accomplish a successful slave revolution, supported Simon Bolivar in his revolution on the promise that he would abolish slavery in Venezuela, he betrayed that promise. Haiti has been condemned to exist as a failed state by the western world. But in the context of this article, it is the narratives that are inserted into the consciousness of the colonial populations of the Caribbean that must be explored as an example of the complex nature of the conversation that we Guyanese must pay attention to, sooner than later on our local race problem. The value of the Haitian resistance is equalled and exceeded only by Castro to the ethos of the CARICOM group and should be celebrated by way of a fixed aspect in our carnivals and masquerade bands. Instead, it is eclipsed by the narratives I spoke of, which in our context similar narratives have been composed pre independence onwards, based on social superstitions negating the value of the groups perceived to be grudgingly designated to be de-emphasised for this or that purpose.
Haiti today is typified by the following narratives: poverty, voodoo, and zombies and as a failed state. In understanding how distorted narratives are developed, it is indicative that we in Guyana construct on the foundations of knowledge, a path for the narratives in our discourse on race and culture through an informed dialect in our collective interest.