Jun 10, 2018  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

 52 years ago, we became a sovereign nation. By any stretch of the imagination, in any sphere of life – national, individual, professional, building, etc., 52 years is a long, long time.
If you went into a freezing chamber in 1966 and woke up in 2018, you would not recognize the world. There is no longer apartheid. Blacks are in charge of South Africa. The superpower, the USSR, is no more. A Black man became president of the USA. Cricket has a new format that the world craves – Twenty/20. Marijuana is legal in many countries. China is emerging as the dominant country on the globe. That is the extent to which the world has been transformed since 1966.
How has Guyana changed from 52 years ago? It is possible to argue that though in 1966 there wasn’t even one building in Guyana that had six levels, and now we have several, Guyana still has not grown and is still not modern. It depends on your perspective on how you see a country and the concepts you use to assess the existence of modernity and the progress of civilization.
I have been around a long time in Guyana to have at least a plausible body of knowledge to assess its level of civilization. The perspective I would use is a philosophical one. That is what I as trained in. I am not a medical doctor or an engineer. A medical doctor can marvel at the staggering levels we have reached in medical treatment since 1966 and conclude Guyana has progressed very deeply. That doctor is not wrong. But on the other hand, I can use other methodologies to arrive at opposite conclusions.
I am driven always to examine a nation by its adherence to certain values which I think hold civilization together. I have no place in my analysis for the plethora of fast food outlets, large high-rise buildings, exotic tourist resorts etc. A country is not more civilized than others because of those manifestations.
I look at the presence of humanity in the country’s citizenry; the visionary nature of its leadership; the depth of its moral fulcrums; its role in nurturing its young to change the world for the better, its protection of the poor and powerless; its embrace of the freedoms and liberties that allow civilization to progress; its adherence to the fundamental principles that govern justice and fairness etc.
freddie-kissoon-300x273As an academic, not as a media operative and social activist, my conclusion would be that in terms of the non-physical outlay provided above, Guyana not only is retrogressing, but is a not a modern land. I would go so far as to say this land is a 21st century failure.
On Wednesday night, Michael Carrington, my dog and I were having a fish and chip dinner on the bonnet of my car on Durey Lane in Campbellville, when a young lady drove into a deep hole in the parapet. As we discussed ways of pulling her out, she sent for her brother. As we chatted, I saw the future of Guyana in these young people, but as they shook hands and went away, my mind went into a spiral decline. When they go abroad and see the modern, civilized ways other nations treat their citizens, will they come back? I knew the answer.
President Trump has left a phrase that has found popular expression in journalism – “shithole country.” I read a lot of newspapers online from different outlets and the phrase is quite popular among commentators and journalists, always being used in the cynical and ironic way. Because of Trump, people now ask – is this or that country a shithole land.
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Is my land a shithole country? From what I see Guyana has become, if you read my columns you know where I stand. This country sees happenings, events and incidents every day that sicken you to the point of utter and total disgust. It has to be a shithole country when a stupid thing like an envelope with a post office stamp has become one of the most precious pieces of paper to have to do the most important transactions in Guyana, overriding even the a letter from the President or the Commissioner of Police. And not one leader, not even one, in government, has the commonsense to say, ‘wait, this is the 21st century, what nonsense is this?”
I end with a sad comparison. A man kills his father-in-law and his friend disposes of the body. The friend pleads guilty and gets two years for accessory to murder. A teen pleads guilty to possession of a smoking utensil and gets three years. Are we a shithole country? Yes!