When thunder rocked Guyana
So Eyes spent the week covering the ‘Are You Ready,’ one year countdown to the Parapan Am Games then rushed off the same day to the Trinidad and Tobago Consulate for the Forged from the Love of Liberty, An Emancipation Day Reception.
Then on Saturday it was Celebration of Life for G. Raymond Chang, and later on in the evening JCA’s The Next Generation 52nd Anniversary Independence Gala.
Ah! And come Sept. 8 at the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival in co-operation with the Jewish Film Festival, Eyes will be among the peeps at the Royal Cinema glorying in Thunder in Guyana, a documentary on the life of Janet Rosenberg Jagan by Suzanne Wasserman.
Actually, it’s more of a love story of American Janet Rosenberg and Guyanese Dr. Cheddi Jagan with a common goal: Forward, ever – Beautiful Guyana!
Both lovers went on to enduring hardships as good visionaries including serving time behind bars as they struggled against imperialism and colonialism, eventually emerging as presidents at different times in Guyana’s history.
In his classic book, The West on Trial, the Fight for Guyana’s Freedom, Dr. Jagan penned: “We did not have the consent of our parents on either side. Janet’s father threatened to shoot me.” Then again, methinks most fathers have a shotgun ready when the male suitor comes a-courting. Ent?
As for thunder? In Guyana thunder is associated with lightning and rain. Thunder, the rolling sounds, will make me as a little boy rush under the bed.
Thunder, the printed Thunder, as the official PPP organ, was to help counter the propaganda of government and big business with power and influence from the British.
But the test of Janet Jagan’s faith was when during a strike, there was a massacre of Indians at Wismar, a village opposite the mining town of Mackenzie, now called Linden, about 60 miles up the Demerara River from Georgetown.
According to Dr. Jagan, “The whole Indian population which formed a minority was uprooted and their property set on fire. Over 200 houses and business places were destroyed. A large number of the Indians were beaten, some of them to death, others had to flee for their lives. Women and even children were raped, privately and publicly, bodies were even seen floating in the river.”
Eyes met an Indian lady in her multi-million-dollar home in Brampton and was told adamantly: “I will never go back to Guyana, I bore witness to the pain and shame!”
By the way, eyewitnesses stated that the police and armed volunteers did nothing to help in the former Wismar-MacKenzie.
“My wife, then minister of home affairs, although charged with the responsibility of public safety, and public order, never at any time received information from the police that rioting was actually taking place; all that was told was that the situation was tense,” Dr. Jagan said.
In the aftermath of the death and destruction approximately 15,000 souls were forced to move their houses and settle in communities of their own ethnic group.
However, Guyana’s First Lady stood the test of time and via the thunder in Guyana, proceeded to become the first female president of a country she gave more than 60 years of dedicated service to in this work of faith and labour of love.
Longing to see you, Thunder in Guyana, Sept. 6, Royal Cinema, Toronto.
Forward, ever …