Guyanese hoping in oil
Endless volumes that could fill up libraries have been said or written about Guyanas oil deal with Exxon. More has been said locally and internationally about the impressive future that this oil holds for Guyanese. Academics, intellectuals, intelligentsia real ones and pretenders have had their say and will,
no doubt, have much more to say in days ahead. But sometimes, the simplest things, the most ordinary developments, from the most unexpected kinds of people are what strike a chord deep inside and register. These are the things that resonate and mean more than what everybody else combined have put together and share publicly. There was this picture on the front page of KN June 1st edition, which brought a world of wisdom and laid its timeless transcendence before the eyes and the feet of the reading, viewing world, be it the expanse of Guyana, or all those beyond our boundaries, who now look at everything that goes on in this country with a microscope, and the most rapt attention.
It was of another day of pro test by a group of protestors braving sun and rain to have their say, through the simply worded placards they hold abreast or aloft. Their hearts are in those words, and so too
are their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Though a small bunch of Guyanese, they speak on be-
half of every citizen of this richly blessed country. This is regardless of whether they
have already been gifted more than an exorbitant share (private sector and cronies and elite insiders); or if they number among the many citizens who are still to experience what it is to be the owners of 11 billion barrels of oil and counting. These would be the poor and vulnerable, the feeble and the great mass of uncounted and forgotten Guyanese. A handful of them are in the protest pictures. But the one from Wednesday, June 1st was piercing and numbing and thought provoking all at the same time. It was so for me; maybe not for others, but definitely for me. The picture was of a little group of Guyanese facing the elements of nature in determined fashion to make their presence felt and their voices heard, their positions known. The publisher of KN was at the extreme left of the picture, and I will say not a word about him today, other than he was there, and that is enough. It was the others who caught my attention, and froze me in my tracks; for the longest moment, I was stilled into the immovability of a statue,
breath held indrawn, and not really knowing, so enrapturing was this June 1st picture, this tableau of ordinary Guyanese with expectancy in their eyes, hope in their hearts (pain, too), and the energy to come out and take a stand. They put all the rest of us to shame, given the abominations of local political leaders and foreign corporate predators with which we live, but of which we say nothing,
would have nothing to do. There was one Guyanese woman with a placard. What
arrested my attention was that she was in a wheelchair. This is real, and it made the hairs
on my hand rise to life and whisper a chilled message to me. This woman is hurting.
Right behind her, and over her right shoulder there was a man of mature age, and I am sure that there was what I interpreted to be a walking stick in his hand. This brother and this sister are hurting. Is any leader seeing what I am seeing – wheelchair and walking stick? Another figure to the far right of them was of likely indigenous extraction, and he, too, had his placard and wore his hopes on his sleeve.
They are all hoping, urging, coming out, speaking out, and then hoping a little more that their little expressions will multiply into a groundswell of interest, concern, energy, and outrage at the plights of the
poor people of this punishing place. I am absolutely positive that there are many other Guyanese, who privately share their public postures, their representations of what can only be beneficial for us
all. The physical symbols and evidence of the 2-3 protesting Guyanese identified are of Guyana in its national canvas. It is of how we are confined to wheelchairs because our spirit has fled; how we are accompanied by invisible walking sticks because we prop ourselves up in shameful secrecy, because we do not wish to be seen so publicly. Our leaders are delighted by this private pondering, this individual and national contradiction, of so many Guyanese who know what is wrong, but refuse to what is right.
Take a step into the open. Have a fearless say. Say that I am Guyanese, and I must count. Oh, and one more thing: that I hurt, but I still hope. May the hurting ease, may the hope be realised. To our leaders I say: dont let these 1000-word pictures pale into the horror and tragedy of 1000-yard stares. Please, oh Lord: NO!