Our First People, our land, our constitution

“Single-parent Guyana”

To his socio-political credit, David Arthur Granger, whilst on the pre-May 2015 Election Campaign trail did visit and interest himself in many hinterland communities at a very personal level. (Both the now President and his national First Lady are (Bartica/Mabaruma) “hinterland personalities”, (euphemistically speaking).

On the few occasions I shared the company – over strong “cocktails” – of the late Desrey Fox, our accomplished anthropologist, we discussed animatedly such terms and descriptions as native, indigenous, aboriginals, Amerindian, tribes, nation(s) and First People. Though I had the highest regard for her academia and actual historical knowledge and experience, we agreed that I could stick to my preference for “First People” instead of the preferred “Indigenous” and European-inspired“Amerindian”.

I have equally high regard for most of the assertions and arguments of Pan-African/Reparations activist Eric Philips, when he prosecutes “cases” for (re)possession of lands which constitute the territory we know as our Republic,Guyana.

Against those three seemingly unconnected issues above, I offer random observations, in my manner, regarding this September’s Amerindian Heritage Month. (Just what new could be said?)

 

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The people, presidential perceptions

 

Expectedly and naturally, the nation’s Chief Toshao President Granger has been making wide-ranging comments to hail the heritage and its challenges. His thinking and perceptions are discerned. I string together just a few excerpts for my own purpose.

“The cultural heritage of our Indigenous communities is under threat…slow pace of growth…limited economic opportunities over the past two decades caused social distress…communities have lost some of their human capital by migration…indigenous people are custodians of the patrimony of our hinterland…They protect out natural assets through their intimate relationship with nature…Indigenous people constitute 10.5 per cent of our population and own and control 14 percent or about 30,000 square kilometres of Guyana’s territory…”

“Indigenous communities are often remote and distant from the main development centres of the country…governance structures are ill-equipped to respond adequately to the widespread and varied threats posed to numerous small communities…the cultural heritage is under threat because the repositories of that heritage – the villages and communities – need assistance…”

Those excerpts easily indicate the Head of State’s thinking on these issues. He is also for reform of the Indigenous People’s Act and proposes an additional structure toimplement developmental decisions in a timely fashion after the Community Chiefs deliberate. I dare not find any disagreement with any of the President’s declarations but as a (non-Amerindian) fellow citizen, I can comment.

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Recognition, development for all

 

Throughout our history, our First People have been regarded as special, even unique. That developed, of course, as a consequence of their locations, culture and relative non-integration into the wider (coastal) society.

Since Independence in 1966, various governments have sought to hasten “Amerindian development” with varying degrees of success. Frankly speaking, to me these folks have always been victims of both other groups’ prejudices and arrogance – and their own traditional reticence. But things are now changing apace. There are moves afoot to regularise and regulate the lands where gold, diamonds and precious stones, great flora and fauna are and which the First People occupy. And our First People attract special mention and protection in our Constitution.

The President told our descendants of Africans during Emancipation – August of plans to establish a Land Commission to settle their coastal land inheritance. He promotes village economies. This month could therefore be a mighty impetus. Expect “others” to be aggressively interested. The Constitution promises us all that good life.

 

The “single-parent” mantra

 

Mantra and (undesirable) social phenomenon “I’m a single parent,” the female vendor, the sales girl, the cleaner, the teacher blurts out. Sometimes the statement is made indeed as invocation or incantation, or as a plea, or at times, even in defiance.

Now I’m shrewd, informed and self-educated enough to suspect the reasons and causes for the thousands of young single-parent females amongst us. However, respectful, as I would like to be, of professionalism, I ask the following of our psychologists, social workers, married mothers and women’s rights activists: Offer me five major causes for young ladies with young children for absent fathers. Why are so many young men mere sperm donors but never real male parents? How many young – or old – ladies are single parents amongst us today? What is the state of the institution of marriage and responsible parenthood in Guyana right now?

As stated, I know many of the answers. They speak to the morality of modern society. But still I invite responses.

 

Ponder well…

The most recent National Census reports that only Amerindians and mixed race Guyanese are increasing in numbers. Why is that?

Have our Olympics 2020 preparations started, as I suggested?

Suggest four other individuals or government entities who would have had to formally facilitate payment for the Nortongate Bond – besides the poor minister himself.

Great point Mr Peeping Tom: could the PNC Leader as President discipline an elected Party official – Minister? Why not? Discuss…

Acquire that abandoned Co-op Bank building in Stabroek and make a modern vendors mall.

 

’Til next week!

allanafenty@yahoo.com