Afro-Guyanese must speak about their reality as they see it

By on August 28, 2022 0

Dear Editor,

The African economy is in trouble not because Africans are lazy. It is not only chattel slavery that has had a negative impact on the African race, but Africans continue to face obstacles in post-slavery society by individuals and groups seeking to suppress efforts and economic self-determination initiatives. In the immediate post-slavery era, our ancestors fought against former slave masters who sought to undermine the village economy by flooding their farmlands. At the dawn of self-government, many entered and remained in the public sector serving the nation through traditional civil service, teaching, nursing, disciplined services, etc.

Due to their sheer numbers, Africans have been the most important group that not only turned the wheels of national production, but financed state expenditures through taxation. While the tax deduction could be manipulated by those in the formal private sector, and many actors in the agricultural sector (rice, livestock, green vegetables, etc.) do not pay taxes, officials cannot skew the figures or avoid taxation because taxes are deducted before receiving their pay. Efforts to ensure decent wages and better working conditions continue to be thwarted by the government’s flouting of the right to collective bargaining, thereby reducing purchasing power and negatively affecting living standards.

Extreme economic hardship is impacting African households, their ability to feed families and send their children to school. When many parents are forced into private security jobs that pay minimum wage, or odd jobs, they cannot provide three meals a day, pay rent or pay a mortgage without the support of loved ones. abroad. It is well established that the government engages in acts to exclude Africans from the public sector over claims of “ethnic balance”, or GECOM reflecting the “reality of Guyana” as Clement Rohee recently stated, he there is no corresponding policy to see ethnic balance in the private sector through an affirmative action process.

There are young people who have between 6 and 8 CXC and university degrees and who cannot find a job corresponding to their qualifications. It’s not because they don’t look but because of how they look. The cooperative sector where the African economy dominates is now besieged by the government which, rather than working with the cooperatives, uses the power of the state to take total control. The cooperative economy is worth about $50 billion and represents workers’ assets (money and land). Cooperative credit unions offer low interest loans for home ownership and repairs, cars, etc. This is distinct from working with Africans to give voice to their reality. Such disregard for race was never seen after 1953 (internal autonomy).

I am sure that if African leaders attacked the East Indians in the same way, members of the African community would have publicly condemned this conduct. The attacks are insidious, vicious and part of an overall mindset, policy and program to justify the marginalization of part of society. These people take what they feel should be given to the African community rather than what the community is entitled to. While the public is fed the diatribe that denigrates a race, acts are being carried out to deprive Africans of their resources. The government is quietly surveying ancestral lands, sparking a legitimate fear that the lands will be reallocated to others and not to the rightful heirs. One such exercise is underway at No. 53 and No. 54, Corentyne, East Berbice.

The United Nations (UN) has warned that as apartheid as a system of government is overthrown and racist legislation will not be tolerated, the underlying belief of inferiority/superiority which has built systems such that slavery, indenture, colonialism still exists and the government can practice them through policies and programs that we must beware of in the process of working for a unitary society. As a member of the African community, I live and walk among those affected, seeing and hearing their cries of discrimination, marginalization and enforced deprivation. As a trade unionist, I also witness this in the labor market. The disregard for the right to collective bargaining in the public service, for teachers and workers employed at the Bauxite Company Guyana Incorporated is largely due to the fact that Africans dominate in these sectors, particularly in relation to the favorable treatment accorded to sugar workers.

There are similarities in the thinking and treatment of government that have resulted in formations of oppressive systems. The UN has stressed the continued importance of upholding human rights and challenging the manifestation of behaviors that could lead to their denial. The right to self-determination, political, economic and social justice is valued in societies that shun the ideas that have supported racist and apartheid states. The Cuffy250 Movement has the right to express the reality of the group it represents. This, in its most basic form, is a precious right. Once the presentations are made, society, more so the government, should review them and put systems in place for corrective action as we strive to live up to the national motto, which is the only slogan that matters. But to tell Africans that they should not talk about their reality as they see it would be to repeat the fundamental mistakes that led to the justification of oppression.

Lincoln Lewis