Stabroek News

Leader Joe berates Chairperso­n Claudette

The first Afro to… The first black to… Welcome back Atlantic Symphony


Joe was naughty! Belligeren­t! Pugnacious! Even vicious in his repudiatio­ns, assertions and rejections. What am I going on about?

I’m referring to the feral responses by PNC parliament­ary Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon to GECOM Chairperso­n Claudette Singh’s vote in favour of the justappoin­ted Chief Election Officer (CEO) and Commission­er of National Registrati­on.

An incensed Harmon was fluent in his indignatio­n; aggressive­ly judgementa­l in his assessment of the retired Justice Singh’s vote which was in tandem with the pro-government GECOM commission­ers. Before Joe’s blasts, the three pro-opposition GECOM fellows had already promoted their reasons for opposing any appointmen­t of Vishnu Persaud to CEO status. But it was leader Harmon’s conclusion­s about chairperso­n/Justice Claudette which struck me in the stomach. Why?

These are just a few quotes from reliable sources: “The Chairman (sic)… has shown that she cannot be impartial and is willing to continue to use her position to further place the entire GECOM in a tenuous position. Guyanese confidence in GECOM has been struck another blow by this political decision by the chairman”. Now just look who’s talking!

Faithful to the collective cause, the three pro-PNC commission­ers and even PNC leader - hopeful comrade Norton used anti-Claudette language like “shifting goalposts, changing rules to suit the governing PPP”; “The whole process was a travesty”; “The appointmen­t was a collusion between the chairperso­n and the PPP commission­ers to put a PPP hack as CEO… ”

What strong, even incendiary language! And how political circumstan­ces can drasticall­y modify and change positions.

I recall, and some other observers have pointed out, that the Brigadier President ignored numerous candidates proposed by Dr. Bharrat and imposed old Justice Patterson as chairman of the commission. That chairman then bypassed Vishnu Persaud for one Myers as DCEO. The highest court later found that the Brigadier was constituti­onally unjustifie­d in imposing Patterson. ****

Comrade Harmon, the chairperso­n, the CEO…

I just alluded to political circumstan­ces changing. So I wonder what Comrade Harmon now thinks of leaderBrig­adier Granger then welcoming the retired Justice Singh as chairperso­n as proposed by Dr. Jagdeo?

And can’t Joe recall how the GECOM Justice did her reputation no favour during the region four ballot counting last year?

My own final observatio­n: frankly speaking the entire selection episodes cry out for drastic reform. Is not even the Carter-Price formula for constituti­ng GECOM “foreign/colonial”? Even pro-coalition commission­er Trotman’s suggestion of a neutral profession­al panel to select the CEO had some strong merit.

But what has both the PPP and the PNC done to review the way GECOM is constitute­d and managed? Ho-ho-ho…


“The First Black”, the Big Picture

The little powerful book which, it seems, I’ll never write, will remind the world that all human-kind originated in the geographic space known as Africa thousands of years ago. Every human in those days, because of the ever-present sun there, was dark, was black or brown!

So what happened? Those who managed to migrate to Asia, Europe and the Americas had their whole “brain-set”, attitudes and complexion­s change. Along the way they forgot their origins and felt superior to these origins. Darker compatriot­s were discrimina­ted against and left behind.

That’s the bigger picture whenever you hear of the “first Afro-American to do this” or “the first black to achieve that…” of course any top-class accomplish­ment must be celebrated but frankly speaking I do know that there is always a bit of condescens­ion when hailing some “black or Afro first”

Fair opportunit­ies were denied for decades. The Afroes or blacks could have achieved long long before! So now artificial praise is showered to hint at fairskinne­d “generosity”. It should never have been necessary to say “first Black” in the first place. That should have been the norm for all! So let me be “the first black to denounce that state of affairs”.

A warm “welcome-back” for the Atlantic

Two Wednesday evenings ago the resurgence of one of Guyana’s premier orchestras was made reality after years of effort.

The (Chronicle) Atlantic Steel and Brass Orchestra – (the founder rejects the mere descriptio­n “steel band”) – was a top flight band which once attracted some jealousy from the proud Trinidadia­ns. Rudy Bishop assembled some forty pannists and trumpeters – as well as dance troupes – to fashion a steel orchestra that toured the world.

Both at home and overseas Atlantic promoted our musical culture and identity as a nation. Bishop migrated and things waned for decades even though there were incarnatio­ns in New York.

But it was a joy to hear new youngsters, under the guidance of veterans Bishop and arranger Desmond Fraser, bring back the sound of the Atlantic. And yes, there is steel and there is brass. Congrats from me on giving a boost to that art-form here.

I’ll care little about competitio­ns. But I yearn to hear Tyndall’s National Steel Band alongside the “new” Atlantic. Joy! Joy!


Til next week!


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