“Is Guyana.. “

“Is Guyana.. “

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by Vidyaratha Kissoon

“Is Guyana..” the minibus driver said while lighting his cigarette. We were talking about police and traffic tickets.

“Nuff people doan pay ticket, is only we bus drivers because we deh pun de road all de time” ..

“So is true about de orderly at de court could fix it? “

“Yeah.. dey have tout near de court. You go and walk roun’ like you looking confused and aint know wha’ fuh do and dem gun come up to you and ask whuh yuh looking fuh’?

The day before, in a full minibus, the driver told the conductor “If dem man aint want tek you money, is bes’ yuh give de orderly at de court a raise fuh duck de jacket.. dis road hard. Duh is what I had to do yesterday”

Open conversation about the hustle all over. I asked how much he had to pay the orderly.

“3,000 – is 10,000 for the ticket. “

It sounded positive on one hand, that some police now are issuing tickets instead of collecting the lesser penalties from the drivers. I should have gone to the court to check out the ways and means of dealing with traffic tickets.

But it seems, from the two bus drivers, that the cash flowed somewhere else, kind of how water finds its way as it moves to its destination..

Water…

“Is Guyana” is a land of many waterfalls and so, which are not always so easily accessible to citizens. The pictures and videos of the waterfalls show nice clear water running over or through rocks of different colours.

There is a waterfall near me. Clear water gushing down in two spots from the river created at the road side by the broken water main, through the earth and over the pretty stones into the gutter.

The sound is calming, it isn’t too loud, a nice kind of rushing sound which is calming.

I made the report to GWI on Thursday 24 Jan, 2018 (ref 1015603-15) .

GWI has been improving the water service around the country. I told the polite customer service agent that GWI has messages around about saving water and it is sad to watch the water wasting.

Sad too, as Cape Town in South Africa is running out of water. Cape Town has been described by visitors as a paradise, beautiful vibrant city. Georgetown used to be described like that.

The GWI has been providing high water pressure, but they can’t seem to keep up with the breakages caused by infrastructure work, and traffic. On Sunday 21 Jan, 2018, the workers had to work a whole day to fix the pipe. Four days later there was another breakage.

I watch the clean water gushing into the drain and think of the residents of Cape Town.

“Is Guyana.. “ we have water, most times plenty water, but something about fixing and breaking, and thinking that we are fixing when the fixes do not seem to be long lasting or maybe these things are patches rather than the deeper repairs, reconstruction needed to update.

Male , Female, Other.. instead of changing the laws against LGBT citizens.

The political parties in 2015 had committed to working against discrimination against all citizens, including LGBT citizens. There are no moves it seems to change any of the laws which nurture homophobia in Guyana. But there are patches here and there. The First Lady has spoken against discrimination against LGBT citizens.

Other Ministers on various platforms have spoken against discrimination.

Patches though.. as none have committed to the necessary legal changes which could bring the rhetoric closer to a reality.

Heck, even the Department of Public Information has the “LGBT” tag on its website though none of the articles about Prime Minister Nagamootoo’s plans to deal with the human rights of LGBT citizens. The Prime Minister is responsible for governance and human rights.

The most recent agency which is acknowledging that there is diversity in gender identity at least in Guyana is surprisingly, the National Procurement and Tender Administration/Ministry of Finance.

The Supplier Registration form gives citizens a choice of Male, Female, Other when describing their gender.

There have been no objections from the PPP’s conscience and champion of homophobia, former Junior Minister of Finance Mr Edghill.

“Is Guyana..” seems to changing in its treatment of LGBT citizens. The love and unity message seems to be working , or it is it?

I would slap you..”

The usher asked me if I was going to see Paadmavati.

I said, man you got to use the right name..(Paadmavat) they have nuff problem in India, deh want fuh bun cinema and kill people and dem ting.

The young user laughed. He laughed and said” what, over a film? Is a good ting we living hey and aint got dem problems! “

“Is Guyana” is not a place where people would threaten to kill others or themselves over a film.

According to a Kaieteur News Report, APNU+AFC supporters decided to picket a PPP meeting in New Amsterdam. The meeting was held with sugar workers. Both Kaieteur News and Stabroek News reported that the picketers and the people attending the meeting ‘exchanged words’.

According to Kaieteur News“One male protestor was heard yelling at a female, “I would slap you”, the woman eventually rode away refusing to engage in an argument with him. Another was heard telling a laid-off sugar worker to “go and thief nuh then”.”

The APNU+AFC male protestor sounded like slap-and-strip bheri.

It seems the protestor had not heard the coalition message and felt that it was okay to follow bheri to talk about slapping a woman who had a different view from him.

The news reports do not say if the protestors and the people they were picketing against knew each other. Pickets and protests could escalate. There are reports of devoted APNU+AFC protestors breaking up a meeting in Linden.

APNU+AFC has not said anything to their supporters about the right of citizens to associations and about turning pickets into festivals of love and unity rather than potentially violently encounters.

“Is Guyana.. “ could have gone differently if APNU+AFC had set up tables with registration forms for the loans and the businesses and the job application forms and information about how the laid off sugar workers could access livelihoods beyond the severance.

“Is Guyana” could be different if in addition to the words of the Prime Minister to the sugar workers,”We must work together.. “ the LGBT tagging DPI could have also reported on what the sugar workers said in response and that there was some continuous engagement and connection.

The system is down..”

“Is Guyana..” is the realisation that sugar is no longer king , but “Is Guyana” should be empathy with the fear, the anger, the despair of thousands of people who are not going to receive wages after years of doing so.

“Is Guyana” could be realising that ganja has great potential as another crop and not as a means to punish mostly poor people. “

Is Guyana” cannot be about gradual recognition that LGBT citizens might be equal, while still wanting to beat children in schools.

“Is Guyana” cannot be a place where party supporters can think about slapping those who disagree with them.

The polite customer agent who answered the phone when I called to find out why the water is wasting was empathetic.

She said yes, it is true that GWI has messages about water wasting and that the loss of water pressure.

“So when are they going to fix it?”

A silence. Quiet voice. “May I have your number to call you back?”

“But isnt’ my number on the fault report, I had given it?

“Yes, yes I know, I will take the number again and find out and call you back. The system is down, and we can’t see the updates. I would have to call the department and get back to you. “

They have not called back yet. The water keeps flowing over the road over the pretty coloured stones into the gutter.

What would it take for “Is Guyana” to mean using our humanity to create and maintain systems which do not waste our resources?

(Coil is extinguished. Thank you to the readers, especially those who gave comments and feedback. Thank you to the editor of GT Mosquito for the work)

(Update. GWI fixed the main by 6pm on Saturday 27, Jan 2018 )

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