Sep 10, 2019
I have one child and if I die today or tomorrow, I left her with a priceless philosophical instruction which I believe she has internalized, and for that, my soul can rest in peace. I have advised her that freedom, justice, liberty, equality, and other sacred values that hold civilization together will never become reality if good people do not contribute an effort, no matter how tiny or small, to saving civilization.
On Sunday morning, the Government of Guyana turned the sod for the construction of the 1823 Monument at Parade Ground, which is where the slaves who revolted were tortured and executed for their role in the 1823 rebellion (see the only book written on that event – “Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood” by Emilia Viotti da Costa – I paid $13,000 for a softcover copy).
The joint host of the event, the 1823 Coalition for the Parade Ground Monument, invited me to attend. I got a call from both Rudy Guyan and his wife, Penda Guyan with the words, “Freddie you were intimately involved; you need to come.” I was one of the founding members of that organization whose trials and tribulations graphically demonstrate the poor moral and philosophical quality of a nationality named Guyanese.
I chose not to go because I know Guyanese, and I know how obnoxious most of the people who live in this land are. While the hypocrisy was on display at the Parade Ground on September 8 at 7am, at the same time, I was having fun with my dog on the seawall, listening to a CD by American R&B singer, Vanessa Williams, titled “Next.”
Why did I choose not to go? Because I knew who would be there. I knew what the ambience would be like. I knew I didn’t belong to that environment. The 1823 Coalition for the Parade Ground Monument virtually stood alone in a sad struggle to have the PPP Government erect the monument there.
I looked at the hundreds that were there on Sunday, and the scores of organizations, in the newspapers, and the question came so easily – where were these people when we were fighting to have the monument at Parade Ground? The PNC, the party that purports to speak for African Guyanese did not lend a hand. No PNC big wig ever attended our meetings; never offered us tangible support.
Aubrey Norton was very helpful, but at the time he was not in the leadership of the PNC, so my statement stands. ACDA allowed us to use its building for our meetings. Ghana Day organization, led by Mrs. Penda, was the only group that was active with us. We had a yearly walk from LBI to Parade Ground, and you could have counted the numbers.
We had to discontinue it because each year the numbers dwindled. The last year we held it, the turnout was embarrassing. We held a yearly barbecue on Parade Ground to raise funds. That too saw numbers thinning out, so we discontinued it. We held a public meeting to galvanize people to agitate for the monument. It was done at a Christian church at the corner of Chapel and Hadfield Streets in Lodge. The turnout was poor.
I formally presented our case on behalf of the organization to the then Mayor, Hamilton Green, when an official delegation met him. He asked us to submit an official document and an architectural outline. Our specific request to Green was to table a motion to the Council so we could have had official endorsement from City Council, in case the PPP Government tried to stop us. This was never done.
Look at the large numbers that turned out last Sunday. Where were these people when we were marching in the sun from LBI to Georgetown to instill in the Guyanese nation the consciousness of having the monument at Parade Ground? Where were these people when we were selling cakes and barbecued chicken to raise funds to mobilize support for our efforts?
I will always remember the words of David Granger, Leader of the Opposition in 2015. The PNC held a weekly picket outside of the Office of the President, demanding the end to the prorogation of Parliament. He came up to me and said, “Freddie, thank you for coming.” I was there more than once. The attendance was far from impressive. Mr. Granger became president and soon after, those who didn’t picket with him, were with him in his presidential suite.
Civilization will never progress in Guyana if we do not put that little effort into an obligatory attempt to raise people’s consciousness. My dog and the music of Vanessa Williams were enjoyable last Sunday.