The Rodney Commission findings have once again thrown the spotlight on the founding fathers of the anti-colonial politics of British Guiana. The name Forbes Burnham comes up. Once his name is uttered, Cheddi Jagan will be discussed. Then more identities will come tumbling down. Eventually we will end up with Mrs. Jagan, Hamilton Green, Peter D’Aguiar, Ptolemy Reid, Sir Lionel Luckhoo, Ashton Chase, Eusi Kwayana and the list goes on. The debate will flow like a river that bursts its banks.
At the end of the endless debates, we will not be wiser about the essence of these people. Each historian will have his/her take. Once Walter Rodney is cited, people will bring up the legacy, good or bad, of Forbes Burnham. Jagan will be juxtaposed against him. And we will decide on what these people were and what they have become.
A good example is the son of Ralph Ramkarran, Kamal. He penned a curious viewpoint of the sixties politician, Eugene Correia, after the Correia family, that administers the Ogle Airport, decided to name the airport after the politician. Ramkarran argued that Correia was a reactionary fellow who helped the Governor when the 1953 Government was annulled and some of its leaders jailed.
It was clear that Ramkarran does not think Correia is a politician to be admired. But this is where Guyana’s historiography becomes problematic. Correia chose the Governor’s side; others chose the anti-colonial route. But what became of their subsequent history? Is it possible that people like Rahman Gajraj, who later became speaker of the House, opposed Jagan because he saw Jagan using the anti-colonial battle for his own political goals and not nationalistic ones?
Research would lend credence to Gajraj’s fears. In his book, “Sweetening Bitter Sugar: Jock Campbell,” Clem Seecharan’s research points in that direction.
Forbes Burnham’s sister had the same fear; that the anti-colonial struggle was his ticket to implementing his belief in his personal quest for maximum power. Our colonial and post-colonial history has not been kind to all these folks whose struggles were passed on to the younger generation and were regarded as heroes by such a generation. But as these people grew older, they essentially moved away from what we thought they were and perhaps who they really were. I have long made up my mind, not through emotional reflections but hard research, that Burnham, Jagan, Mrs. Jagan, Hamilton Green and their contemporaries were and are no heroes.
When I read some unflattering remarks by the former wife of one of the anti-colonial politicians, Ashton Chase, I thought of my dangerous encounter with him in 2011. Juan Edghill, then Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) brought a contempt of court charge against me. The writ drafted by Mr. Chase argued that while the ERC had a court matter in front of Justice Bovell-Drakes brought by opposition leader, Robert Corbin, I had written on him, Edghill. What was frightening was the way Mr. Chase drafted his writ, he asked for penal consequences, meaning, once I had lost there could be no fine or community service or apology, but a jail sentence.
I was simply shocked that Mr. Chase would choose to draft such a draconian writ, given the fact that he was part of the anti-colonial struggle in the forties, fifties and sixties. Why did he want to jail a media operative for such a type of offence?  If there is anything I will remember in a court room that made me smile and laugh was the reaction of Justice Insanally when she dismissed the case. Mr. Chase asked the judge for a stay of execution. The judge without emotion but a harshness of tone said, “Stay what Mr. Chase?”
Up to this day I never knew what Chase wanted to stay. I was found not guilty. What was there to stay? The not guilty verdict? This was Mr. Chase from the forties who was in court in 2011, asking for a columnist to be jailed. One day, if I see Mr. Chase (I am told he is 91 years old), I will ask him what was it that he wanted to have stayed?
As I have written above, I have long made up my mind about our founding fathers and mothers; they were not great people. I believe the most narrow-minded and dangerous politician this country produced was the anti-colonial fighter, Janet Jagan. Martin Carter refused to grant interviews to local media people, but in the last years of his life gave one to a white foreigner. Eusi Kwayana has long left the shores of Guyana. This is the story of our anti-colonial struggle.