Former Prime Minister and Mayor Hamilton Green, writing in one national newspaper on December 15, suggested that Guyanese should not be surprised if Guyana is renamed the ‘State of Ali Irfaan.’ Unlike current Mayor of Georgetown, Pandit Ubraj Narine, who sees the emergence of a Muslim State in conflict with Hindus, the now self-styled ‘Elder,’ sees the new State as embracing Hindus. His prediction is that the Georgetown will be renamed ‘Bharrat City.’ This convergence of a Muslim State with a Hindu Capital should give some solace to the Mayor, who feared personalized conflict. At least the Mayor, a Hindu Priest, would be presiding over a capital city that bears a Hindu name, ‘Bharat,’ an ancient name for India.
All kinds of people can be found in Hamilton Green’s ‘State of Ali Irfaan,’ whose physical characteristics are determinant of their outlook on ethnicity. For example, persons without ‘melanin’ can hardly share the “pain of Afro-Guyanese whose ancestors suffered at the hands of those who believe that there were (sic) nothing wrong as they brutalized and dehumanized slaves.” Then there are those with ‘non-wooly’ hair, one of whom stated “that slavery and indentureship were similar” which led Green to conclude that it is “no wonder that we’re stuck in the mud, morass, and confusion of abundant ignorance.” Even the Amerindians came in for some historical reckoning. Like Afro-Guyanese they “are not beneficiaries of the largest (sic) of the State” but “they were used and paid handsomely to hunt and catch the African slaves who ran away from the Coast to escape the cruelties inflicted by Massa.” There are even “Afro-Guyanese” who are on the side of the “oppressor“ and who “turn against their kith and kin.”
When preparing these articles, I make it a point of never getting directly personal. On this occasion, however, I was forced to contemplate my own identity. I am suffused with melanin; the few grains of hair that I still have are of a moderate ‘wooly’ texture. My political views coincide with the interests of a particular class rather than with any ethnic group. But I am classified by those who know me as an Indian Guyanese. Where do I fit in Hamilton Green’s scheme of characterization? He has left me baffled! And where does he fit, having shaved off his full head of ‘wooly’ hair?
The name of the man which is attached to so many horror stories in the period of dictatorship, was used to drive fear into the minds of children in an that era. Mothers warned their children, “if yuh doan behave, Hamilton Green gun lock yuh up.” In that period, in which the now Elder held leading positions in Government, the rice industry was severely damaged, GAWU struggled for many years for recognition, foods used by Indian Guyanese were unavailable, Indian Guyanese could not get into the Army, Police Force or public service, except in a trickle and their votes had no value. The independent press was destroyed, the country’s economy was shattered as party paramountcy prevailed over everything, including the courts in which I, along with others, defended hundreds falsely charged. No one expects a mea culpa from the Elder for being a member of a Party which destroyed the village economies of African villages and the livelihoods of thousands of African Guyanese, bringing hunger to African Guyanese children and others to the city and its schools, and destroyed the entrepreneurship of Africans by nationalizing eighty percent of the economy. But not even some restraint or diffidence?
In another diatribe in yesterday’s SN, the following about today emerged In flowing eloquence from the Elder’s prolific penmanship, but descriptive of the era when he exercised power: “As has happened before, this group in charge is possessed of the same attitudes and beliefs of an old imperial master, who used the arms of the State to pummel and punish those who dare to express contrary views and to seek justice, freedom of expression and association.”
In this ‘State of Ali Irfaan’ there is an “emerging economic and ethnic apartheid state” based on a report by Mr. Nigel Hughes “which gave details of the disproportionate allocation of contracts and state funds to Regions.” The current Mayor and former Mayor, both supporters of the PNCR, need to get their propaganda aligned. Is President ‘Ali Irfaan’ setting up a Muslim apartheid state, antagonistic to the interests of Hindus and Africans, or an Indian apartheid state, oppressive of Africans only? Is it the view of one or both of these gentlemen that Hindus and Africans should join together to resist the Muslim apartheid state? Or is it the task of Africans only to resist the Indian apartheid state? And what will Mohamed Bilal’s (the Elder’s Muslim identity) position be in relation to the Muslim state?
The ‘State of Ali Irfaan,’ which contains the capital city of Bharrat, Roxanne Burnham Gardens, Linden and Melanie Damishana, populated by Muslims, Hindus and Christians, should no longer be a country in which the “petty men” of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, quoted by the learned Elder, anylonger determine our “fates,” as in the past, but by today’sforward-looking men and women of one people and one Guyana nation.