Eyewitness: Taking example…from Africa

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

The passing of Elizabeth II has brought home how similar we are to other ex-colonies in her former empire: all our heads of states and officials representing us at her funeral had to use the bus to get to Westminster Abbey!! Now…let’s not get our dander up and knickers in a knot – except for Joe Biden, almost every other of the 170 or so leaders had to queue up for the ride! And Joe gets a pass to ride in his limo (“The Beast”) only cause the Brits wanna cling for dear life to their “special relationship” to remain relevant!! Joe also got an aisle seat inside the Cathedral. In case he had to get to the loo?

But a pic of newly-elected President William Ruto of Kenya – with President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and other African leaders shoehorned into a bus – went viral across Africa!! Most folks back home thought it was quite infra dig, and that it made them look like a bunch of school kids on a field trip. Ruto, however, said he used the occasion to network with folks who could help move Kenya out of its brewing economic crisis. One wonders who our rep – Minister of Parliamentary Affairs – networked with.

President Ramaphosa of South Africa, however, didn’t even wait for the final rites – he flew back home because of the crippling blackouts that have hit the once-most-developed country in Africa!! Everything has ground to a halt to intensify the skyrocketing crime wave and xenophobia that had already put the nation on the back foot. And more than anything else, this should force some introspection by all of us as to what have we done to make ourselves REALLY independent from Britain. It’s a cryin’ shame that apart from outliers like Singapore and Mauritius, we seem to have wasted our possibilities and stifled our peoples’ dreams.

But there are some bright spots. Ruto’s Kenya has shown we can make progress from the greatest fetter the Empire placed on us – arbitrarily cobbling together groups of people from entirely different cultures and insisting we’re individual “nations”!! Kenya alone has 44 tribes!! This was sure to create conflict, as we all vied to “rule” like the departed Brits. Divide and conquer!! Meaning literally lording over everybody else!! Well, like us and Ghana, Kenya returned to multiparty democracy in 1992, and, after some serious ethnic violence in 2007, worked out constitutional changes in the political system that have led to peaceful changes in governments.

Back in the day, Burnham picked up his ideas of one-party dictatorship and “Big Man politics” from Africa, and maybe his successors can now observe that peaceful electoral politics is the way to go!!Let’s learn from Mama Africa!!

…on rice farms’ size

When the average Guyanese – outside of rice-farming areas – think about this industry, that’s the largest employer in the country, they see endless acreage of green (or golden) fields fading into the horizon. But the reality is that most rice farmers cultivate small plots of less than 5 acres – and barely scrape out a precarious existence. With President Ali promising his Government would facilitate increasing our rice production from 650,000 tonnes to 850,000 tonnes annually, the path is clear: increase the size of plots for new and existing farmers.

We just gotta follow the identical path that got us in large scale rice-farming, to begin with – convert abandoned cane fields into rice fields!! Studies have now shown that the optimum size for family-run farms is about 25 acres, and, at least with the Skeldon lands, the terminated sugar workers can be leased such lands to put into rice.If this could be done when there was barely any mechanisation in the 1920s, what about now??

…on audited records

It’s been several weeks since IPADA-G said they submitted the financial records demanded of them by the Min of Culture – to account for their $468M grant. So, were those records kosher??Inquiring minds want to know!!