By Sham Samaroo
NEW YORK (July 26, 2020) – I finally bounce up Starboy for a lil geaaf. “Long time, no see Starboy,” I greeted. “Bwoi Sham, I frikken dis china virus bad, bad. Trump seh is only a flu. But I tekkin no chance. I playin hide and seek in de basement like Joe Biden!” was Starboy’s cryptic reply. I promptly told Starboy that I had no time for politics. I simply wanted to know what happened to West Indies after such a promising start.
Starboy: West Indies went to Hingland fuh play cricket and end up playing politiks, both at which they are clueless.
SS: I don’t follow.
Starboy: Rather than tekkin a knee, why not use dat time to laan fe play de game.
SS: Are you saying that what happened in Minnesota is not that important a cause?
Starboy: If Jason Holder and his merry nincompoops really want fe support a riteous cause, why not tek a knee fuh Guyana?
Is it possible that with no Guyanese in the squad, it might have slipped their attention, I joked, trying to get the conversation back to cricket. But Starboy was having none of it. He get bex. “Sham, yuh lammata or wot? Is there a more righteous cause than Guyana right now? What we seeing in Guyana today is the ugly legacy of Forbes Burnham, and a disgrace to meh dear land of Guyana”, bemoaned Starboy.
SS: But Starboy, Burnham died over 35 years ago.
Starboy: Bhanna, yuh missin’ the point. Do you know the meaning of the word legacy? And you call yuhself a teacher. No wonder dem cherren kyaan even do sums. It is that legacy; that lust to hold power at all cost that continues to poison the political conshussness of their leaders to this day. Demockrassey and Konstitushon be damned. That thirst for power started wid Burnham. It reared its ugly head in 1953 when Burnham made his first power grab days after the PPP victory.
SS: But wasn’t Burnham already the chairman of the PPP?
Starboy: Correct. But Burnham wanted to be top dog. Is all bout power, bhannas. Was, and still is today. After victory in ‘53, Burnham gave them an ultimatum to be made “leader or nothing”. It was a bald-faced attempt by Burnham to seize power. And the rest, as dem seh, is history.
SS: Wait, boss. Aren’t you going to give us the history lesson?
Starboy: Why don’t you haul yuh sk- -t to the library, and do yuh own homewuk.
SS: I kept quiet. Starboy loves to pampasette, but I knew he would come around.
Starboy: Don’t get me in meh rickiticks, sighed Starboy. Burnham was not even suppose fuh be chairman. It shudda bin Ashton Chase, one of the founding members of the movement. But when dem faam de leadership team in ’53, dem taak Chase into tekkin a chill pill, and mek way fe Burnham for party unity and because of his stella credenshals. Burnham was a brite, brite bwoi, yuh know. Man study inna Hingland and all dem something dat.
SS: So how did this first power grab end?
Starboy: Well de Kabaka was counting on his GT supporters, but Sydney King clap one box pon he sk- -t. Kingie tear into Burnham for the egotistic, power-hungry scallywag dat he was, and remind everyone that that decision dun mek laang, laang time ago. King slam the motion as a flagrant violation of party unity. He drop some rastaman manners pon Burnham and run him selfish, power-drunk rass outta de yaad.
SS: What happened next?
Starboy: Big bacchanal. Burnham seh, “We walk alone”; and Jagan seh, “We walk with the people”. Burnham, egg face and all, leff in a huff and puff, and faam him own PPP party.
SS: Hold on, hold on. I am confused. You mean there were now two PPP parties?
Starboy: Is de Queens hinglish I taakin. Yuh chuppity? Wot don’t you understand? Yes, there were two PPP parties. The real PPP party led by Jagan, and the kaantuh PPP party faam by Burnham.
SS: Are you telling me that two PPP parties contested the ‘57 election?
Starboy: Yes. In fact, the kaantuh PPP party also began publishin’ dem own fake Thunder. Now dat ah think bout it, Burnham and his power-drunk posse was the original fake news, said a smiling Starboy.
SS: Yuh killing me here Starboy. But what happened with the election?
Starboy: The PPP won again in ’57, and ’61.
SS: So why didn’t the British Government bestow independence under Jagan?
Starboy: Because Jagan bin pon sk- -t. Ah know meh hindian bredrens gwine get mad, but ah doant give two sk- -t. Jagan drink dat Marksis socialism bullshit. Come to think of it, Jagan was a sk- -t.
SS: He was misguided for sure, but his intentions were honourable.
Starboy: honourable or not, a hole is a hole is a hole.
SS: Starboy, that there is deep, deep, deep.
Starboy: Yuh refurren to my filosophy or the hole?
SS: So if I understand you correctly, it’s the Brits and their partner in crime, the US, that is responsible for that mess back then.
Starboy: No, Sham. Yuh jumbling up two things. Just like today, some seh dat is all bout oil. But oil or no oil, Granger and company was never gonna give up power. It’s that legacy, remember? And it is true that back in the 60s the Brits and the Yankees were frikken bad, bad of another Cuba on the continent, but by themselves, they couldn’t do jack without a candidate to run against Jagan. Burnham gave it to them on a platter. He traded his body and soul fuh de thirty pieces of silver. Burnham sacrificed the hopes and aspirations of the young nation on the altar of lust for power. And it is that very lust for power that is currently playing out in Guyana today. That is the ugly legacy that Burnham bestoy on our dear land of Guyana.
SS: But Starboy, what about Jagdeo? Isn’t he a con artist too?
Starboy: Correct again, Sham. But the people dun spoke. Just like they did in ’53, ’57, and ’61. And the will of the citizenree must be respected. If crooked Hillary, I mean crooked Jagdeo, and dat bush doctor pull the same stunt again, they will answer to the people next time around. Dat is wot demockrassey is all about. And fugget all dis taak bout how demockrassey cyaant wuk in Guyana because of the two races. Taak bout spin, Lance Gibbs, on his best day, couldn’t match that. In this day and age, there is no place for tin pot dictators, concluded Starboy.
And with that Starboy start fuh sing:
My Guyana Eldorado…
O rise triumphant glorious.
From the ashes of the past…
(Starboy is a cricket connoisseur and polemist in the West Indian community in New York. He spoke with Sham Samaroo on the state of WI cricket and the nexus of Guyana’s political drama.)