Feb 03, 2020  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

One of the things that affect humans is the power of perceptions. Perceptions and reality are not necessarily related but perceptions are out there and one has to deal with them depending on your station in life.
When one enters politics one is essentially asking society to trust them with the exercise of power.
You are not going to acquire power if perceptions about you are overwhelming even though there is no realistic dimensioned involved. But you have to deal with them.  People see what they want to see and you cannot change their minds but once you enter politics you have to confront perceptions.
I have spent years trying to erase perceptions of Mark Benschop that I know have no basis in reality. He is my friend. I shared dangerous activism with him. I experienced the application of violence meted out to us while sharing that activism.
Some quarters in this society think Benschop is a racist Blackman. Let me go on record as saying I don’t believe that. I have not seen the evidence of that. Please show me it.
Not because you support the PNC you are Afro-centric. Not because you endorse the PPP you are Anti-African. I am voting for the Amerindian party and I have no cultural connections with Amerindian communities and never had. People call Benschop racist because he was uncompromising in his anti-PPP politics.
I have heard credible people who live credible lives tell me that Benchop is a show-off. And guess why? Because he would go to a police barrier, confront the police and get arrested. I have told countless critics of Benschop that thousands of Guyanese activists since the 1940s have done similar things that Benschop is accused of being a show-off about. Mark Benschop has stood up for violated people while others hid under their beds. Give jack his jacket!
We come to David Hinds. Anyone who follows politics would know I am a personal friend of David. We come back, way back as youths in the Walter Rodney bandwagon. A very good friend who is a very prominent, professional Guyanese invited me to lunch at Oasis Café last Wednesday.
Incidentally it was with Mark Benschop that I last visited Oasis Café in 2013. He told me he knows how close I am to David but he is uncomfortable with David politics. Then he said, “Freddie I know he is your friend, but he is racist.”

Many East Indian buddies of mine have told me that David is racist. It is perception I have confronted several times even up to last Wednesday.
I went into a long explanation why I don’t think he is racist. But perceptions are there and David is feeding it with a certain type of activism.
How did this come about?  His praxis evolved out of Eusi Kwayana’s African village movement and Kwayana’s cultural consciousness movement.
A logical outcome of such discourses would be the necessity for seeing that your ethnic group takes their rightful place in society.
David wants to see an economy in Guyana where Africans whose descendants came here as slaves share in the wealth generated. As an academic trained in history I have no essential arguments with that aspiration.
I think David gets into trouble with accusations of racism because of his Rodneyite praxis that has lasted for over forty-five years and what his detractors see as his endorsement of post 2015 of governance by the PNC.
My own perspective informs me that David is swimming in a sea of justified perceptions because there cannot be a dialectical harmony between these binaries.
What I thought Benschop and David would have done was to use the continuation of the monstrously ethnically driven political culture inherited by the post 2015 formation to lessen the hold on power by both the PPP and the PNC.

I find David’s theory that the nature of the present coalition makes for the lessening of the poison inherent in Guyana’s old political culture completely implausible.
I will now offer David an example of where he is feeding people’s perceptions of him. I was at the birthday last Saturday of city optometrist, David Singh.
I met former Finance Minister (an old friend when we were student contemporaries at UG and one of Guyana’s most modest ministers in its entire history), Sasenarine Kowlessar.
Sase told me that the Ministry of Finance currently employs only African staff. He said it was not multi-racial when he was Minister. Do I believe him?
Don’t I have a right to my opinion? Yes, I believe him. I can tell you about ethnic preferences at the National Park. David needs to be more loyal to Rodneyite politics.