Guyana Mela celebrates Indian Arrival
Georgetown — The Everest Cricket Ground in
Georgetown was set ablaze last Saturday evening with lights, music,
food and an eclectic menu of cultural exhibition and performances as
an estimated 20,000-plus Indian Guyanese celebrated the 165th
Anniversary of Indian Arrival in Guyana
was an awe-inspiring event, a Mela of massive proportion unequalled by
anything of its kind in Guyana. The Guyana Mela as this event has been
called, is the brainchild of the Guyana Indian Heritage Association (GIHA),
a relatively new organization that has been speaking out on critical
issues affecting the Indian population here.
On May 5, 1838 the two ships, Hesperus and
Whitby, after a lenghty journey of 90 and 114 days respectively,
unloaded their cargo of 415 Indian indentured immigrants on Guyana’s
soil. These were the first of several such landings in the New World
by Indians who would later transform the landscapes of those countries
where they became domiciled.
Saturday’s extravaganza with Indians thronging
the gates of the former East Indian Cricket Club, many dressed in
ancestral Indian garb, singing and dancing with carefree abandon to
the stirring rhythms of Indian performers, was without doubt an
endorsement of the resilience, persistence and self pride that Indians
have cherished in themselves for these 165 years.
The occasion engendered a traffic pile up which
streamed all the way down Carifesta Avenue and overflowed all around
the Everest Cricket ground.
The bril-liantly lit center stage formed the base
of a towering 40-foot high jahaj (ship) that presented a symbolic
backdrop to the evening’s proceedings. And a 15’ x 20’ large-screen
jumbotron ensured that those not in close proximity to the stage were
not deprived of the opportunity to view the action taking place.
The stage program lasted for over four hours with
energetic and lively entertain-ment that included singing, tassa drum-ming,
a fashion display and music. Presen-tations were made by GIHA
president, Ms. Ryhaan Shah, leader of ROAR, Mr. Ravi Dev, and cultural
activist Mr. Amar Panday.
Despite the threat of rain, GIHA considered this
Mela a resounding success.
Another fallen police officer
Georgetown — Last Monday a 23-year old
police constable was gunned down in Sophia at about 8 a.m. bringing
the number of such executions to 21 since the spate of police killings
started in April last year.
It was reported that Constable Lloyd Cameron was
shot and killed while he was leaving home for work in company with
another police officer. The latter was believed to have been the real
target of the attack. The gunman escaped but one of his two
accomplices was held by the police.
Cameron who had taken leave of absence after the
recent death of his mother, was walking to work, north along First
Street, when he was shot near the path behind the Sophia Practical
Constable Cameron was shot six times. His
companion fled and is believed to have escaped uninjured. Cameron’s
service weapon and ammunition were taken by his assailants even as he
lay bleeding from the multiple wounds.
His death was a telling blow to his family. Only
last Wednesday his mother was buried. He leaves a two-year-old and a
three-year-old to mourn his passing.
Two other policemen have been killed in Sophia
under similar circumstances: Constables Colin Roberts, on December 23
and Deon Joseph, on January 30.
Since April of last year armed criminals have
been systematically targetting policemen. Besides the 21 lawmen killed
so far, attempts have been made on the lives of many others. Last
Saturday an off-duty policeman was under surveillance by several men
and when police were alerted a shootout ensued in Lodge. The two who
were tracking the movements of the policeman escaped.
Ethnic extremism: The politics of evil
largest ethnic organization in Guyana is the PPP/C political party.
Because of its majority Indian support base, it has won the largest
number of votes in every democratic election held so far. That is, the
party can "attract popular support of their own ethnic kind". The evil
steps in when, as their supporters find, the PPP/C is not "looking out
for their ethnic kith and kin". They have abandoned them to wanton
ethnic/political criminality in order to support the lies that they
are multi-ethnic, that their government represents all Guyanese, and
that there is no need for inclusive governance. The party, terrified
to admit its ethnic origination, rushes to take care of every other
race group except Indians in order to disprove its own truth.
quotes above, and the headline itself are taken from an article
written by Government spokesman Dr Prem Misir and published in the
Sunday Chronicle of April 20, 2003. Though Misir does not actually
state that ACDA, GIFT, GIHA and others are ethnic extremists – he
leaves this to public judgment – his careful selection of groups named
is intended to cast doubt.
He does not name as possible ethnic extremists
the Amerindian People’s Association, the Chinese Association – no
threats to the PPP/C - the defunct British Guiana East Indian
Association (BGEIA) and Government’s newly created creature, the
Indian Arrival Committee. Since the PPP/C hopes that IAC’s cultural
posturing will fool its supporters and keep them from straying, Misir
dutifully leaves the party’s creature off his list.
His expurgation of the BGEIA from his list is
probably due to the fact that Dr Cheddi Jagan was once a member of
this ethnic group, and Misir might have done well to mention his own
presidency of the East Indian Diaspora Committee.
It is a clear case of "jackass ears long but he
nah hear he own story"! Adding the BGEIA to his list would also have
upset Misir’s tidy academic theorizing that "East Indian indentured
labourers without ethnic extremism effectively transmitted their
culture …." The BGEIA, formed in 1916, looked after and lobbied for
Indian welfare including land settlement schemes, education for Indian
children and Indians’ right to vote. This, in Misir’s view, would be
extremist behaviour because their demands were "completely opposed to
bargaining, compromise, and politics as the art of the possible."
Indians transmitted their culture because of the
stalwart work of the BGEIA and a host of ethnic community groups, and
because of their religions, Hinduism and Islam, the bedrock of their
culture. But Misir would no doubt discredit religions, too, as
cultural extremism since their rules are not open to compromise and
And where has the PPP/C administration’s
political artistry and compromising put Guyana? And whom are they
bargaining with as the country goes to Hell? With the Devil? And whose
lives are the bargaining chips?
It is a simplistic ploy to point to others in
order to detract attention from oneself. The BGEIA, GIFT and GIHA
hardly qualify as "arch-villains" – Misir’s hyperbolic language - of
Ethnic groups have existed in Guyana and will
continue to exist to represent particular community interests. In the
early 1900’s, among the ethnic community groups on the Corentyne were
the Indian Upliftment Movement and the Aggre Memorial Club, an African
Guyanese group. Their offices were physically side-by-side and they
worked together amicably to look after their respective communities’
Today, amity has been replaced by enmity and was
actively created by the evil of ethnic extremism that resides within
the PPP/C and the PNCR. The PNC’s terrorism is documented and well
known. Their terror campaigns are waged against a perceived enemy,
Indians, to give advantage to their racial bloc. But how much more
evil is it when an ethnic organization uses its own people to gain
advantage for itself, to gain political office, then throws them to
the wolves? The full force of the PPP/C’s evil has become known to the
world and Indians who can are fleeing and seeking refuge abroad, far
away from them.
Their supporters here – kept "loyal" by party
victimisation and bullyism – also know the truth and Misir’s own
analysis predicts that the PPP/C will bring about its own downfall. He
states that ethnic extremists "in the final analysis will destroy the
very foundations of their own support group". It is already happening.
The PPP/C sits back and let their supporters be destroyed by their
main political opponent. It is the ultimate politics of evil.
592-223-6385; email: email@example.com.
War against criminals is still on - Gajraj
Georgetown — Responding to what appears to
be a "lull" in the frenzied killings of recent months, Minister of
Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, said on Sunday that the public should not
be misled into letting down their guard.
Mr. Gajraj conceded that the criminals have good
intelligence on their targets and are likely to strike at any time.
Some areas, the Minister said, have had somewhat of a respite from the
intense criminal attacks they were subjected to, but this is no
indication that the perpetrators have lost their appetite to commit
crimes. To entertain any such notion would lead to a false sense of
According to the minister, the reduction of crime
in certain areas is due to the alertness of policing groups that have
been routinely patrolling their communities. He urged those
communities which do not have such patrols to get involved immediately
and encouraged those presently involved not to become lax.
Mr. Gajraj emphasized the need for the community
policing groups to be alert to criminal activities in their
communities and also to be aware of any suspicious acts which they can
report to the police.
The minister acknowledged that there has been a
loss of confidence by the public in the police force. He felt it is
important for this confidence to be restored for the force depends on
the information it receives from the public to carry out its