May 05, 2017 Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

 Today marks the anniversary of the arrival of the Indian indentured immigrants. It comes at a time when the majority of sugar workers will be facing a bleak future. One is emotionally lacerated at this tragedy. But let us be honest, sugar is a king that once dominated the land but its time has passed.
I was walking next to Khemraj Narine, the vice chairman of the university’s workers, in the May Day rally and I told him if we are going out of sugar, let us give the vast lands that the sugar canes once stood on to sugar workers. This country is very poor. It has endured 60 years of economic and political stagnation but one of the great human features that makes this country stand out against all others in the world is its genetically driven resilience.
A majority of nations around the world would have regressed into Hobbesian madness if it had to face the long flame of economic and political fire that has extinguished the sun in this land. But not Guyana.
I don’t believe we have achieved any greatness as a nation except that phenomenal resilience. Sugar may have died but you give those fields to our former sugar workers, you will see that unleashed spirit of perseverance. This is what Guyanese have been good at. I don’t think for a moment that there would be economic stagnation if we share out untold acres to former sugar workers. Those hard-working souls will turn those lands into fields of gold.
Tacuma Ogunseye told me that the PPP is peddling a myth that thousands of workers will be unemployed with the miniaturization of the sugar industry. I don’t know if he is correct. I did tell him if that is not so then the government has to counter that cheap propaganda by the PPP. I believe strongly that if we are closing sugar estates and those lands will be left unattended then unemployed sugar workers must be given these assets.
06f7c9_edd60b4c210449e9bf8e9abcefec65a1As we are talking about lands, I am an inflexible supporter of any commission to look into the delivery of African ancestral lands. This country is so large that it is idiotic to juxtapose land right claims of East Indians, Africans and Amerindians. But people are doing it and all it does is culturally deform us as a people in deeper ways and it sociologically caricatures our collective mind.
After nearly two hundred years of occupation of Guyana, the ontology of Guyanese East Indians torments my psyche. I simply do not understand this ontology. I have seen and met Indians all over this world and they seem a less racially oriented people than the Guyanese Indians. I know of countless cases of Guyanese Indians in New York who did not want Barack Obama to be elected. This was unthinkable among Indians in the US from Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad etc.
What is wrong with an Indian Guyanese that can live in a post-modern city like New York yet retain an old psychology that they grew up with in the era of Burnham versus Jagan? And it is frightening to note that this mental anachronism can be found in Guyanese Indians who hold professorship in universities around the world. The list includes professionals in every conceivable area of knowledge.
If I have met ten Indian greeters since the APNU+AFC came into being then nine of them do not want the Coalition Government to remain in office. I will ask my readers to forgive my little expression of chauvinism – I meet this type every passing day. I mean each day. If I meet ten African Guyanese who discuss the Coalition Government with me, five would be for and five against. This was not what I found among Indians when the PPP was ruling.
06f7c9_98ab5d3fe3ef46e28898cf40c0e299d6How does one explain this peculiar attitude of the Guyanese Indian mind? It is a very inscrutable dilemma. You can literally count on your fingers the Guyanese Indians who can do a plausible, scholarly explanation of it. For the moment I can think of perhaps only two persons whose analysis would be deadly accurate.
There is Moses Bhagwan, formerly of the WPA who lives in New York. I have a deep appreciation for the keenness of Moses’s mind. The other is Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine. I end with the optimism that as rural Indians become more attached to modernized values, mores and institutions, they will leave old psychic graveyards behind. It has to happen.
Despite this strange frame of mind, Guyana is a better place because of the arrival of the Indian people who have made invaluable and priceless contributions to this territory.