Burnham: - Through my Spectacles
The mere thought of Burnham brings to surface, distasteful emotions and resentment. Burnham, a man who possessed the potentials of a man of the people; a hero but however he choose to allow selfish ambitions to devour him. Thus Burnham has etched himself in the hearts and the minds of others, a sour taste.
Burnham was very formidable with the microphone, his delivery; his oratory is unmatched in the English speaking world of the twentieth century. There can be no denying, Burnham was the best speaker of the twentieth century, and others were at best; distant second. This and other super qualities and talents were obviously misused and sadly, spewed abuse upon the masses.
Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham was no man of the people, for Burnham was an ambitious man, and he choose to use those qualities for personal illicit gain. The perplexing is Burnham never turned the corner, never rose above the opportunist label.
Burnham regarded British Guiana now Guyana as simply his domain. Individuals and organizations such as and including the following, Julian Maynard, Cheddi Jagan, Harold Moody, Claude Denbow, W.O. R. Kendall, Kwame N'Krumah, Norman Manley, George Padmore David Pitt, Grantley Adams, League of the Coloured Peoples, Peoples Progressive Party, United Force, and Peoples National Congress, were all only, tools and stepping stones, and contributors to Burnham's campaign for British Guiana. Eusi Kwayana then know as Sidney King, Keith Carter, Martin Carter, Rory Westmaas and Rodwell Atherley recognized and denounced both Burnham and Jagan as being no good but remained with Jagan.
Dr. Claude Denbow, the rival dentist colleague of Dr. Jagan, and the League of the Coloured People were not invited to Ghana's Independence celebrations. During those independence celebrations Grantley Adams, Forbes Burnham, Norman Manley, Kwame N'Krumah, George Padmore and David Pitt, bonded together conceived a strategy to unseat Dr. Jagan and the PPP from the helm of the government of British Guiana.
It was during those celebrations; the leaders, it is documented projected Dr. Jagan may turn British Guiana into a Soviet Satellite, if not an Indian Satellite State.
Dr. Jagan perhaps must shoulder the greatest percentage of the blame for providing Burnham with an established platform - the unskilled labouring class. It's my view Dr. Jagan turned the corner following the 1948 Enmore experience, but had made inroads while campaigning for a seat on the legislative council in the November 1947 elections, and gathered a mass appeal with the help of others including Eusi Kwayana then Sidney King; a school teacher in Buxton, therefore Buxton was a major player in the making of Dr. Jagan's political career.
The socio-economics and political atmosphere in Guyana was always of a racial climate. However, it became more pronounced and violent following Burnham's full court press for sole leadership of the PPP and the highest office in the land. The role of the European machinery is unmistakable. The west preferred Burnham to Jagan. Thus destabilized the PPP government. Burnham never won "free and fair elections" that's a fact. Jagan defeated Burnham in four straight efforts but following the December 1964 elections, the PNC and the UF conspired. They joined forces to legally oust Jagan and the PPP from office. The "Apan Ghaat" (Vote for y' own) movement was far too much for Burnham and the PNC to overcome.
Sidney King proposed partition for Guyana and was dully expelled from the PNC. Burnham's ego would and could not suffer itself to a divided British Guiana. Burnham needed to be lord and master of all Guyana, not part there of, never mind the interest of the people; the masses.
Sydney King, a former supporter of Jagan and then a member of the PNC, proposed dividing Guyana into a tripartite state with separate zones for blacks, East Indians, and those who could coexist.
Sydney King was expelled from the PNC for this suggestion. King adopted an African-style name, Eusi Kwayana, and founded the African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa (ASCRIA) in 1968. ASCRIA was dedicated to bolstering Afro-Guyanese pride and their gaining control of the government and economic security. ASCRIA allied with the West Evangelist Millennium Pilgrims (Jordanites), a religious sect established in 1917 by Nathaniel Jordan, a sugar worker from Kwayana's village of Buxton. Through the leadership of Kwayana (who rejoined the PNC in 1968), the Jordanites and ASCRIA gained influence in the PNC.
"What about Luckhoo's NLF and Carter's UDP?" Padmore asked, Burnham was suspicious about Luckhoo clashing with him for supremacy in the event of a merger but Carter was okay. Burnham knew John Carter was thoroughly fed up with his role as leader of the UDP and would prefer, any day to get going on a more thoroughly organized party. Burnham agreed to return home and organized a real united front against Jagan.
Letter to Lachmansingh "As you may guess, I have seen him, N'krumah. He is sympathetic and very critical at the same time of what he describes as Jagan's stupidity. I have met most of the West Indies leaders …. And what they seek to impress upon me is that they will have nothing to do with Jagan. Now more than ever we have to beat Jagan. If we do I can assure you we will have support from many friends."
Burnham also met with Maurice Charles of British Guiana, a magistrate; in Kamasi. Jagan did invite Burnham to rejoin the PPP on several occasions but however those invitations must be regarded as political ploys, for Dr. Jagan, as intelligent as he was must have realized. Therefore knew Burnham was neither interested in subjecting himself to Jagan's and or any other's leadership, nor power sharing. Those were simply unacceptable, and not options in Burnham's thought process.
Burnham's attitude suggested an individual who was reared as law unto himself within his household. Thus Burnham always expected his way, wherever and whenever, never mind his station. In short, Burnham expected to dictate to others even from a very young age. This manifested itself throughout his political career. This eloquent speaker, neither amounted nor aspired to be a man of the people, and very likely did not care about what legacy he would leave. All that mattered was once you gained power you never loose power; a motto, Burnham adopted from N'krumah; his mentor.
History has been kind to N'krumah, but however revisionists can neither clean nor gloss over Burnham's legacy; a dictator, a tainted leader. Guyanese must recognize Burnham, never considered their interest. The masses were only pawns on the chessboard. Burnham was no racists. He was a dictator. François Duvalier of Haiti and Idi Amin Dada of Uganda have nothing on Burnham. He was as ruthless as they could ever imagine.
Burnham did not care who he exploited or oppressed but those who threaten his domain.
Regardless of the statistics; A sad chapter in the annals of Guyana which ought to be learnt and never be repeated. What boggles the mind is the failure to mobilize and to overthrow Burnham's dictatorship. In this regard every Guyanese national is guilty of subjecting themselves and/ or kin to tyranny. The constitution of Guyana must have in place a system of checks and balances, narrowing the loopholes, which will prevent the rise of another dictator. If not folks such as the honorable Walter Rodney died in vain. Guyana must eradicate the divide – the legacy of the plantocracy, which to this day is still in use by both the PNC and the PPP.
Who developed a system recognizing a spokesperson for the East Indian and another for the Blacks? The major ethnic groups were not allowed to jell, mould into a unit with one voice. Guyana must now more than ever speak with one voice. It's quite possible Dr. Jagan aimed for a united Guyana but facing assaults from various sources, spent his energy and his life in seeking victories at the polls never really allowed to consolidate his agenda.
In retrospect all of political Guyana may well prefer Dr. Jagan to Burnham. A legacy of retarded economic growth, voting ghosts and floating ballot boxes. Burnham was interested in nothing but power. Brain drain is still evident, the ruling class faltered through-out the last fifty years. The amount of Guyanese and their descendants who emigrated and now reside beyond the boundaries are living testaments. No Guyanese can prove other wise. In the words of Panday of Trinidad commenting on politics of race, "We did not start it but we have the responsibility to end it, to finish it." The view politics will always be ethnic in nature; the sentiment is refreshing indeed.
ASCRIA - African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa
PNC - Peoples' National Congress
PPP - Peoples' Progressive Party
NLP - National Labor Party
UF - United Force
UDP - United Democratic Party
WPA - Working Peoples' Alliance
Golden Grove - This village in which I reside was perfectly quiet. The Portuguese shop was untouched and kept open during the whole excitement; and have great pleasure in reporting that the 100 members we have here were all prepared and ready under the leader Mr. Bentick Sancho, well known to the honourable Mr. Porter, to turn out, not to destroy, but to protect the Portuguese shop had the rioters from the other villages attempted to come here on Monday night. The village was so quiet on Tuesday night that Mr. Bentick Sancho who has considerable influence with the people of Victoria went with his minister to that village to aid him in allaying the excitement.