A forum for Guyanese to share their views on the present state of our beloved country.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

1984 in 2009

It seems as though the P.P.P will never learn and I personally believe that it's because they don't have the capacity to. Recently, because of their peeping eyes and vindictive policies, livinguyana, a source of all things true and pertinent to Guyana, was forced close. Further, party loyalist and members continued on a campaign to mischaracterize the site and its bloggers. What is wrong with all of this is that, this was a blog site and bloggers are free to write within the usage policies set out in the agreement between them, the blogger and the host, in this case google.

This leads me to believe that George Orwell's classic book, 1984, is the policy reference of the Peoples Progressive Party. Why else would they want to silence free taught and expression of same, if not to control the information that the people receive? No other regime in the world, well apart from Robert Mugabe's of Zimbabwe, is this controlling. I hope the next time the President goes on one of his State sponsored vacations (sorry official visits) he opens his eyes to the real world. People seek information and the more they are in the know the better the society.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

When boys played with sling shots

It was always fun to come home on friday afternoons after primary school. Our teacherss gived us no home work for the weekend because they thought it best for kids to be kids and what better time to be a kid than on the weekends. Parents would be home, friends and playmates would be home and most fun of all its bird season.

Slings shots when I was ten was the most deadly weapon a kid played with. However, the strength of your weapon depended on the rubber used in its creation. So to ensure you had the deadlyest Sling Shot you made sure you acquire the best rubber. It was either streach-and-left or streach-and-streach, streach-and-streach was the best. Pull that rubber back on your Sling Shot and the bullet with your torned leather socket would fly for yards, killing instantly any bird within its path. It was this activity that made my weekends, killing birds. There is no memory as sweet as the taste of a roasted Dove, the best of the catches, on a skewer, with some green mango with salt and pepper on the side.

Today, I am sadded for the memories of the boys of Guyana. They now playing with guns.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rumors of a fundraiser

I heard through the grapevine that Guyana will be hosting another fundraiser for the people of Niger, good for the People of Niger but bad for Guyanese. We are currently going through a flood probem. All over the country Guyanese are starving for help but we find it fit to help others. Have we forgotten the parable taught to us as children? "Charity begings at home."

How about a fundraiser for the 600 residents of Berbice that are living in shelters, a situation none of them may have imagine to happen to them. How about the farmer in number 2 canal that has lost his crops this season as a result of the floods, forcing him to take his kids out of school. The Koker in Bellevue that needs repairing. Have we gone mad? I remeber once when I was just a little boy, the bus shed in my village, Stanleytown, needed repair. The entire community came out and repaired that shed, self help. Now our community needs help and we see it fit to help people thousand of mile away.

Helping is always good. Help your own first and then they will be able to help others better. Come on leaders, this is an election year, prove yourself. Sorry, I forgot you have notthing to prove, the winners of this election have already been chosen.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Yo know yo Guyanese when

This email is floating around the internet. Listed below are some of the know Guyanese sayings. Very funny and true.

1. De back of ya remote got scotch tape.
2. Ya know bout pluggin' out ya TV to turn it off.
3. Ya know bout keepin' rain water fo drink.
4. Shopping bags from de grocery store is also garbage bags.
5. Uncle George and Aunty Pam and half de other people ya call uncle and aunt are not really related to you!
6. Space in de living room is unacceptable and must be occupied by something you don't actually need.
7. You know what a plate clat and floor clat is.
8. You recycle oil.
9. It's cool to have fairy lights all year long.
10. Bun bun is food.
11. A ole bicycle tire is a toy.
12. De dishwasher is also known as ur lil sister or lil brother.
13. Powder milk and sugar is a snack.
14. Your Grandma call a wife beater a singlit.
15. Jumping up and down could give you narra.
16. A mistress is known as a "sweetwoman."
17. A blackout is normal.
18. Bugs are bugs; a ca-ca-roach is something totally different.
19. Ghosts are known as Jumbies and Bacoos.
20. All footwear is known as boots.
21. You get a cold, you drink bush tea.
22. All barrels from farrin includes Cadbury chocolate...with almond.
23. You know bout brushin ya teeth with salt and water.
24. You straighten ya hair, not perm it!
25. A frog is called a Cropo; and throwin' salt pun it back will kill it.
26. Christmas means pepperpot and sorrel, not eggnog!
27. A bottle is called a "bokle" and it's cap is a "cark" and they come in cases, not six packs.
28. Soda, juice and anything other than water is "drink."
29. Dog food is always leftovers.
30. Deodorant is roll-on.!
31. You've used your towel as a shower curtain at least once in your life.
32. Straws, plastic spoons and forks can all be converted into a toothpick.
33. Gossip is ah "seh seh."
34. You call your alcoholic uncle ah "Sa-gi-wang."
35. "Bamba laytee bam bam" means ur in trouble.
36. Your ten year old is a bottle of rum.
37. You go to college, your family feel you know everyting.
38. Crush up news papers was once a substitute for toilet paper.
39. Having a dog or cat on the bed, or anywhere in the house for that matter, is NOT normal to you.
40. You have home clothes, church clothes, sleeping clothes, wuk clothes and "good" clothes.
41. Your childhood games were "Gam," "Hap Scatch," "Dog and de bone" , "One Two Three Red Light", "Bun Down House", "Sal Out", "War Break" and "Catcha!"
42. Ya hood had "Chinee" restaurants.
43. You've heard "Don't tek ya eye and pass me!" at least once in your life.
44. You reply with "Me and you eye neva went fo a race!"
45. Ya know bout throwin' a bucket ah water in de toilet bowl to flush it.
46. You have at least one family member that'll tell you "I know u since ya small suh!"
47. Nicknames are based on physical attributes. eg: Blackie, Tall man, Smiley and fine gurl.
48. Gum is chico.
49. Ya hear de name "Sharma" and you automatically start laughin'.
50. Ya know what it is to collect "Prags."
51. Beginning a question with "When last" is normal to you!
52. New Years Eve is "Old Years Night."
53. Your vocabulary contains words like"Pattacake," "Pokey " and "Banna"! (Shoulda been #1!)
54. You know what "Schupidy" mean!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Migration, New York numbers and the rants of a Guyanese New Yorker.

The migration debate has been going on in Guyana for ages. People left and will continue to leave. The politicians would try to give us some sort of lucklustered explaination, but truth be told, they themselves have made preparation to leave in the event of all hell breaking out in Guyana. Many of the children of these politicain live here in New York. How can they convince the many that are here, living in a self impose exile, to return home when they fail to persuade their own kids. This seems a bit strange to me. For those who are here and would like to go back home, rest asured that better days are ahead. It will certainly not come with our present leaders but know that things are in the making. Keep pluged in for more updates.

The decision to emigrate is hard, people do it for better jobs and security, further study and to join family

Friday, April 29th 2005

I refer to the letter by Adam Lynch captioned "I graduated in 1998, myself and half my batchmates are working in the Caribbean" (27.4.2005). I would like to support Mr. Lynch, someone I had the pleasure of knowing for four years while I myself was a student at the University of Guyana, and to further advance the discussion. This issue is very serious and should be the subject of ongoing discussion and debate. It would be encouraging also to see members of the government join in the discourse so as to give their positions on this matter. Without a doubt, Guyanese who migrate continue to pay close attention to the situation at home and I am of the strongest conviction that we need to continue this conversation.

While the statistics of immigration patterns of Guyanese graduates living abroad may be accurate, it fails to fully address the underlying reasons graduates choose to leave. Mr. Geoff DaSilva in his position as Director of Go-Invest, an agency charged with the responsibility of attracting and fostering development in Guyana, should have exercised more care in his assertion that 'the migration of skilled Guyanese should be no cause of alarm.' Mr. DaSilva, you should know that skilled human resources are a country's best resource and if you don't understand that basic principle, today would be a good time to submit your resignation because you have failed to comprehend the fundamentals of development.

Migration from one's country, community, home, is never an easy or capricious decision. It involves much contemplation and planning. The psychosomatic preparedness it takes to leave your immediate family, loved ones, friends, community members, and a lifestyle you have grown accustomed to, is heart-wrenching and painful. However, this decision becomes easier when the prospect of a more fulfilled life, which may be had through the immigration process, is considered.

Humans were always on the move from the beginning of time. Whether emigrating or migrating, these processes have always been built on push and pull factors. Push factors such as job security and satisfaction, remuneration/salary and living wage incomes, proper housing availability and affordability, and most importantly, the personal security of oneself and family through effective and efficient law enforcement institutions are of paramount importance when considering the process of migration.

Opposite of push factors are the pull factors that attract future migrants to host countries. There it is perceived and most often reinforced by family members, friends or acquaintances, are the opportunities that wait in terms of fulfilling the void created from living in Guyana.

Apart from this fundamental and basic concept of migration, there lie yet other reasons why Guyanese graduates would decide to leave. Upon completion of your first degree from the University of Guyana, sad to say, your only choice, many graduates seek to move on to more advanced degrees and specialisations. This process of fulfilling one's academic desires can only be had by first securing oneself a space at a university abroad. It is at this juncture that for many Guyanese the immigration process begins. After one has immersed oneself into living and studying abroad, most times in societies that are democratic, liberal and cosmopolitan, it becomes hard to return to Guyana where the continuation of this lifestyle will not be sustained.

Family reunification has also played a vital and unquestionable role also in fostering migration patterns of Guyanese graduates. In the United States of America, the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 have been instrumental in aiding the immigration of Guyanese. The 1965 amendments to the Immigration and Naturalization Act were passed in the shadow of the civil rights movement, when an admission system based on national origins seemed out of step with national values. The 1965 Act took one of the elements of the previous system, the admission of nuclear family members, and made it the centerpiece of a new system whose goal was the reunification of extended family members. Legal Residents and Naturalized Citizens of Guyanese heritage refuse to allow remaining family members to live in Guyana, where the push factors of migration abound, while they have the opportunity to bring them here.

A recent report by the New York City Department of City Planning, The Newest New Yorkers, reports that over 51,439 Guyanese that have been admitted to the United States as a result of the above discussed immigration law within the period of 1990-1999, now reside in the New York metropolitan region. Apart from immigration through family reunification, 12,346 Guyanese have become legal residents of the United Sates and reside in New York as a result of marriage to U.S citizens and there is an estimated 5,000 persons or more who live in the region illegally.

These figures represent a Guyanese population who left Guyana not because of lack of nationalistic values, but who seek a more fulfilling lifestyle that Guyana fails to offer them and their family.

In Canada, an immigration policy that allows professional Guyanese to sponsor themselves and immediate family members without having to have ties in Canada has without a doubt aided in the flight of Guyanese professionals to that country. Canada, a progressively democratic, cosmopolitan society, that provides for its citizens and residents a lifestyle that was rated the best in the world several times by the United Nations, has no problem in attracting professional Guyanese. Again, moving to this society provides for its newcomers the opportunities missed in their "sending" countries. Thus, with such an immigration policy, Canada has no problem attracting Guyanese graduates who otherwise would never be exposed to the sort of living standards Canada offers had they decided to continue living in Guyana.

What I am getting at is the fact that development in its holistic nature has failed to materialize in Guyana; to furnish the securities and opportunities sought by its citizens and most of all, its University trained professionals, who would have been exposed through their various tenures at the University of Guyana to the true meaning of development. Not having the facilities needed to offer this level of comfort, coupled with working in environments where your professionalism and academic attainment are not respected and appreciated only add to the desire to migrate.

Who should we blame? Should we blame graduates for moving because of the numerous push factors in Guyana or should the blame fall on the shoulders of the Guyanese government who refuse to stop being blinded by their own ineptness and shortsightedness? This is a government that fails to responsibly foster development that is prudent and cognizant of the needs of the Guyanese people.

Until such time as the government of Guyana really examines its fiscal and social developmental policies, and protective law enforcement programes and realize that political rhetoric solves no problem, but that practical, sound and determined development strategies that attract and retain their subsidized trained graduates do, the current immigration patterns will not cease.

I would only hope the government of Guyana realizes, and does so urgently, that failure to adopt the countless recommendations offered in this area of development - the retention of Guyana's qualified and skilled human resources - will mean that all of their future prospects for Guyana will never materialize because the labour force that would be needed would have already migrated.

Christopher A Watson

Monday, January 23, 2006

Charity starts at home. Old Rant.

Oh beautiful flooded Guyana.

Guyana is in no position to help Niger

Friday, August 26th 2005

Desmond Persaud in his letter captioned "Did the government give money to Niger?" (13.8.05) aroused my curiosity as to the wealth of Guyana in his question, "will it be possible to discover from the government how much money the relatively wealthy nation of Guyana contributed to the relief effort to the 'Niger situation'?"

I refer to the 'Niger Situation' only because its President, Mamadou Tandja, is yet to admit his country is experiencing a famine despite countless claims from leading relief agencies that are present in the country at this moment. The World Food Program, an agency of the United Nations, has been the leading agency spearheading the relief efforts in Niger, and has disputed President Tandja's claim.

On the topic of rich countries' contributions towards the worldwide relief efforts on their way, Mr. Persaud would be disheartened to know that little has been done by those countries that are in fact relatively wealthy. The United States of America, a country proclaimed as being the richest in the world has contributed pennies in comparison to its potential. Its Global War On Terror or as its new war slogan proclaims its Campaign Against Extreme Islamists, has little room for side diversions like starving children, women and men, and most seldom mentioned, cattle and livestock owned by the starving families.

A nation such as Guyana, however wealthy one might perceive it to be, is in no position to help other nations in their times of need. This statement may sound crude and unsupported, but allow me to explain.

While Guyana's richness lies in our country's natural resources potential, our leaders are yet to emerge from their cocoons and demonstrate strong leadership in harvesting the bounties to be had by sustainably exploiting these natural resources, either through local investment or attracting benevolent (if there are any left) foreign developers. Companies such as Barama and Omai can be used as examples of natural resource development. Whether sustainable I am not convinced, however the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for making this charge. Unless we encourage more natural resources development in Guyana, with its revenues being used to expand the country's frontiers in terms of infrastructural development, providing the much needed employment our country so desperately needs, we are in no position to believe we are a "wealthy" nation - relative or not.

Moreover, we are still recovering from our own natural disaster. The recent floods devastated the country, and would certainly be repeated unless preventative measures are put in place now. The many lives lost, the farms destroyed, livestock damaged, and the infrastructural damage that may not be evident at the moment but which would be apparent soon enough, are present perils we are overcoming as a nation. Even with the outside donations we may have received to help us in our recovery effort, Guyanese tax payers are still left with a hefty bill to pay in these recovery efforts if we are to return to pre-flood conditions.

More recently, and I am surprised that there were not more discussions and revelation of a strong plan of action by the Guyanese government to supplement this imminent loss in revenue for the nation, the European Union has announced its withdrawal of subsidy support for Guyana's Sugar. Sugar has represented over our country's history, one of our most significant sources of foreign export and revenue earners. Apart from the much needed revenue derived from the export of sugar, many Guyanese livelihoods depend on this industry. I myself grew up in two sugar dependent villages on the West Bank Demerara region of Guyana, my father was employed by the industry before his migration to the United States. Thousands of Guyanese could be out of work and a Social Benefits Programme is non-existent to help them.

If I am to discuss an even more prevalent debacle - the unstoppable migration of trained, qualified, talented and young Guyanese to other countries that aren't as welcoming as they may have at first seemed to be - , I am afraid Mr. Persaud would be even more disheartened.

Clearly, with the abundance of problems that abound in Guyana and the lack of urgency in dealing with these problems, our country is in no position to donate money to other countries' relief efforts while we are in a desperate position of our own. If I am to find out that our country was generous in its donations to Niger, as sorry as I am about this tragedy, I will be disappointed, only because I am convinced that a nation should first take care of its own citizenry before being generous to others. After all, charity begins at home, and we are a country that is in need of charity ourselves.

Christopher A. Watson

Once more for the record. I believe in giving but when we are advocating to give to other countries and we are not helping our own, we have a problem. Today's Stabroek News is reporting Guyanaese checking themselves into shelters as a result of the floods they are experiencing. I wonder if the person asking for us to help other countries is advocating for his fellow Guyanese to be help by their leaders. Maybe it's time for him to write another letter.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Friends and me on graduation day. Posted by Picasa

The great ranter. Posted by Picasa

Visions of a leader blinded

Recently our beloved former first son, Joey Jagan, made some observations while traveling through Guyana. While his observations are enlightening, they are late. Sorry Joey, these things were with us a long time ago.

The problem of lack of development has been with us for some time

Monday, May 9th 2005

I write this letter in support of the observations of our former first son, Cheddi (Joey) Jagan Jr. in his letter captioned "People throughout the country are fed up with the lack of development" (3.3.05). However, his observations are a bit late since these problems were inherent in Guyana not after President Jagdeo took over but even in the days of his father and mother, former celebrated leaders of our country. Although I agree with him fully, it puzzles me as to why he would choose this moment to voice his positions if not for his own political leverage.

Developing countries like Guyana are in unique positions. We are able to tailor our development projects by looking at the lessons learnt by those countries that are light years ahead of us. History offers us the opportunity to adopt practices that worked and abandon those that didn't. Using Latin America as a close example, we observe the destruction privatization has bestowed on those countries. While we need more efficient industries our country must not be sold out for little.

Taking an example from the United States, where after World War II then President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his capacity as leader and commander-in-chief, decided to put Americans back to work. It was June 29, 1956, when President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act, and interstate highways began to meet the challenge of the growing number of automobiles on the nation's highways and provided for the millions of men and women out of work the vital employment that they needed. Coupled with this, the government embarked on building massive civil projects which acted as the catalyst for America's development.

Guyana is in a position today where thousands of trained Guyanese are out of work, the economy is in dire need of stimulation, we are highly indebted and the recent floods were just a reminder of the nature of the catastrophe to come unless we move out of the 'Low Coastal Plain.'
Using mass construction as an example for fostering development will provide not only jobs for the many unemployed Guyanese but also would stimulate the economy. The collection of taxes, which is the government's most significant income source to provide the social services they need for citizens, is of utmost importance. With more people working you are in a better position to collect taxes not only from employed individuals but also from those companies that would be their employers.

We need to stop our political rhetoric, pool our intellectual resources study past practices from the developed world and formulate a plan that best suits the Guyanese context and put that plan into practice. Sergio Varas-Olea, Representative of the IDB in Guyana pointed out that we need more growth in the economy. This growth cannot occur by us talking about it, we need concerted efforts, strategic plans and action.

It is often easier for someone from the outside looking in to offer suggestions on how we can move forward, more often than not those persons are far divorced from the political, social and most importantly, the cultural aspects of the country. We as Guyanese know ourselves; we are a hard-working people like all other people of this world that want only the best for ourselves and family. We know our problems, we know there are solutions, what we need is the will of the government to initiate the development the country needs to get out of its stagnated development phase. It is easy to say that Guyanese are wanted around the world but I am sure if the opportunities encountered upon moving to those countries were to be available at home the discussion of skilled migration and the current brain-drain occurring in Guyana need not be.
Please let's stop talking development and start witnessing development. The government could encourage it by first making the environment safe to accommodate development and Guyana would be a better place for those living there and for those of us that are eager to move back.

Christopher Watson