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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Guyana, Marxism, Race, Politics and the USA (Part 3)

(…continued from Part 2)

Ramnarine Sahadeo continued:

“I met Cheddi once in 1993 in Toronto when he thanked me for my role in encouraging others to ADOPT THEIR SCHOOL after I had assisted my first school, and then have the Minister of Education Dr. Dale Bisnauth stay with me as we organized meetings with other groups around Toronto. I thanked them both for taking over the schools, just as the Churches and anti-Communists feared because the religious imposition on those schools adversely affected thousands of lives.

My view was the Red Stain was temporary, and was removed in 1992 when the Western powers admitted their involvement in the 1960s, and apologized. Furthermore, in 2020, the entire world including friends of democracy in the Caribbean, joined forces in ensuring that the voice of the people (via the ballot box) was heard.

However, the more permanent stain of religious conversion which Jagan acknowledged was another form of imperial European superiority survives political independence, not just in Guyana but throughout the diaspora.

The life of HARI in Dr Ragbeer’s book, describes the history in detail. His parents came from Bihar and were encouraged to marry before boarding the ship since couples carried more fees for the Arkatis. He was born in 1906 and observed how becoming a Christian facilitated favors and opportunities. To enrol in school they had to agree to speak English only, attend Sunday School. Non-Christians were called Heathens and Savages.

After one night of passion at a hotel he fell in love with someone who read and practiced poses from the Kamasutra and Kokashastra. He then explored gold mining and returned to the city only to find out that his lover and the son he never saw (Harry) died in a fire. When his mother was drowned one year later while trying to find him a bride he swore at Shiva the destroyer.

He attended meetings of the BGEIA where Peter Ruhoman blamed Thomas McCaulay for making Indians brown Englishmen, a plan he outlined in 1835 to the British Parliament as a way to destroy a culture since he saw no beggars or homeless people in India.

POST SCRIPT: To those who have not read the book or had concerns about going off topic, I hope this helps. It is noted that those in attendance, wherever they reside, would find the effects of conversion a more lasting stain than that of communism. This was quite evident from the many opinions that came to the rescue of Cheddi. Contrast this with the few from academia or high office who have courage to protest the rape of cultural values brought by our Indian ancestors to shores from Fiji to Guyana.

Ramdath Jagessar said:

“My comment was based on the opinions on Cheddi Jagan expressed by Dr Mohan Ragbeer in his book The Indelible Red Stain which I edited. As World War 2 was ending, it became clear there would be two winners with competing systems for the world to choose. These were the Marxist socialist system of the Soviet Union, and the Capitalist system of America and its allies. The British empire was coming to an end and Britain would have to give independence to its far–flung colonies, including Guyana and other Caribbean colonies.

Two socialist firebrands, the dentist Cheddi Jagan and his wife, Janet Jagan, went to Guyana in 1943, having already decided the Soviet model was their choice for the anti-colonial struggle for independence. Soon after, they ran into a dynamic young lawyer, Forbes Burnham, who also seemed to have chosen the Marxist revolutionary socialist road.

Dr Ragbeer shows Guyana at the time as a place where colonial peoples fell easy prey to young greenhorn socialist militants enticing the masses with impossible promises. Cheddi, Janet and Burnham were the pick of such greenhorn militants.

“I described their choice of the Russian model as a brave choice against the stream, a choice not made by any other Caribbean leaders, or any colonial leaders. The USA had made it plain this was their backyard and they would not accept a Russian -styled government in their territory. They had already started demonizing communism as godless, if you had two cows the communists would take one and give to your neighbour who had none. The Guyana population was totally ignorant of such matters as socialism in any form.

But there were some positives for the young communists. No other attractive options existed for Guyanese people seeking an end to colonialism. The British Guiana East Indian Association (BGEIA) was seen as tired and compromised, and in their urban bases far from the country Indians. It was the fashion of the time for Indians who had prospered to abandon the countryside and go to the towns.

(To be continued…)

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Dr. Kumar Mahabir
Dr. Kumar Mahabir
Dr. Kumar Mahabir, Assistant Professor University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Chairman, Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre Co. Ltd. (ICC) E-mail: [email protected]


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