BY EWALT AINSWORTH                 05 05 2012

Had he lived, 8th of May this year Guyana’s altruistic and rustic former Prime Minister, Dr Ptolemy Reid would have been 100 years of age (May 1912 to September 2003). The ‘grand old-man’  Dr Reid died about nine years ago after retiring voluntarily as Prime Minister but  made his mark as  an opponent of poverty and a proponent and exponent for self sufficiency,  fair-play, justice, honesty, transparency and genuine people’s development.  Perhaps we should all tweet something sweet on May 8th and send a message (140 characters or less) to the characters who occupy MAIN STREET to get with it or get out.      

Dr Reid is no longer in a certain place and space and the least we can do as a people is to mount a virtual protest in our mind’s eye to voice our discontent about the PPP selling out our farms,  dismantling our families and defaulting on repaying international loans.  Over the weekend, a resident of Kingston, Georgetown, was beaten to death by an intransigent for a loaf of bread and cigarette.  The deceased, 69-year old Walter Sankar, was a resident of Brooklyn and was home on vacation. Things are worse in 2012 than they were in 1992.  The top one per cent of the rich in Guyana control approximately 55 per cent of the wealth in the entire country.  Whatever is on e-bay is in the home or second mortgage of your favorite politician.  CALL NAME AND I WOULD WHISTLE.

“Teacher Ptolo” led a one man crusade for Guyana to be self sufficient in food in every household, every family, every local authority and every region.  Contrary to popular belief, it was not Burnham who was spearheading the food drive and later clothing and housing drive in 1976; it was the doctor. There were also scores of other industries and projects under the Food, Clothing & Housing (FCH) cluster.  There was a time when homes in Guyana used to be painted in bright rainbow colors with words like THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT CASAREEP BUILT or THIS IS THE HOUSE THAN MANGO BUILT.  Under the PPP, everything has a D…drugs, drama, deceit, deteriorate, depression, decay, deceive, deplore, deny, detention, dysfunction, disease et al.
The national agriculture fair in Sophia, AGRI BANK, LIDCO, NATIONAL SERVICE and a host of other similar projects were all pet projects of the doctor.

As the summer breaks in the Diaspora,  those who are middle age and a tad-younger, are scouring the garden centers to find manure, planting materials and sod to put down a lil dasheen, tomato, bora or ochro.  His legacy lives in climes and regions far outside of Guyana and one sure way he can be remembered and honored is to occupy Main street and send a clear message to the NCIL and tell them we want back our farms and dignity.

Dr Reid used to preach in town and country, high and low, to the known and unknown that “whoever feeds you, controls you.”  The PPP is trying a thing to re-colonise and crimnalise the grass roots by installing East Asia as a source of strength and power.  That will not happen.  Linden will not be Lindenistand and Dartmouth will not be Dartmouthistan.  Buxton too will not be Buxtonistan and Ithaca will not be Ithacastan.  Enmore, home of Mr Anthony, may become Enmoristan; Port Mourant, may be Port Mourantstan but never in the majority of ethnic black enclaves.

In his active years in the government  Dr Reid was Home Affairs Minister, Agriculture Minister, Finance Minister before becoming Prime Minister.  He knew all the publics and never allowed his good looks to inform his stellar performance.  He made ordinary people feel extra ordinary by meeting them at their level and let them rise at a pace and tempo that they can sustain and maintain.

All Guyana should rise up on the 8th of May, for one day only initially to protest the ideas and ideals Prime Minister Dr Ptolemy Reid stood for and to show the stark reality of the dissonance and distance between this humble servant and the current Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh.

Dr Reid was born on the 8th of May in rural Dartmouth Essequibo, and lived and worked as a veterinary doctor.  He was trained at Tuskegee University in Alabama and later worked in Canada before returning home to give of himself and talents.  He did not seek to bamboozle or besmirch anyone for what they had.  Dr Reid was always first past the post in being a friend of the ordinary man and engineered scores of projects and made annual visits to check progress and be a Philip to rural and regional endeavors.

A list of now defunct agricultural projects are the Dadanawa farm, Wauna farm, Moblissa farm, Surapanna farm, Ebini farm, Garden of Eden farm, Libya (Onverwagt) farm, Mara farm, Butenabu farm and the National Service holdings at Kimbia, Tumatumari, Konawaruk, Onderneeming.

The PPP in the last 20 years has also dissuaded private farmers like Dr Broomes, Kayman Sankar and Lila Kissoon (AH&L KISSOON) from operating their farms.  I am also curious to find out the current status of Skip Roberts’ farm in Huradia and Sonny Ramphal’s farm in Abary.  The PPP has humbled farmers and has uplifted gangsters.  Now they are making moves to displace black folks who have holdings in the bowels of the Mazaruni, Cuyuini and Potaro.  In India, more than 70 per cent of the nation’s wealth is locked up in gold.

Both Dr Ashni Singh and his bossy wife seem to be on a roll.  She more than he, likes money and the things money can buy.  But poverty watchers are claiming that it is a misnomer that microwaves, cell phones, dish washers, cars, jewelry, electric kettles, cruises and other things you find on e-bay really lift people out of poverty.  Let me rewind and come again.

The average American home has three televisions, washer, dryer, microwave, kettle and fridge but yet still is experiencing a level of poverty never seen or experienced in this century before.  Some economists and development planners are beginning to look at shared comforts and co-existence as new platforms and, processes and programs to determine wealth and stave off poverty.

The cultural values of East Indians in Guyana are hard to change.  Their ancestors have drilled and drummed it into them that they must get as much as fast as much and run.  India is caught up in private wealth and public squalor and even though this is a reality for all to see, the cultural/ancestral thing runs deeper.

Dr Reid used to spend a minimum of two days each week in his active years in some farm, some riverian community some backwater listening.  He was also engaged in having national conversations on patriotism and diversity.  I recall a young lady giving birth to a baby during a Developer’s course at Loo Creek.  Dr Reid visited that Sunday to congratulate both mother and daughter and to check on their welfare and was appointed a co-parent (godparent).  In turn, he named the child  CUFFIA LOO CREKITIA because the mom was concluding studies at the Cuffy center in Loo Creek.  If you know something about this young adult today, holler at me, please; send pictures, send clippings.

Another metric, another talent that Teacher Ptolo had was that he was always visible.  I did visits with him to Supenaam and in the middle of the trip, divert to Goshen and head to Bartica to meet with Region Seven folks.  In that same swing, in the middle of the night, he takes off by road to the Sherima crossing and instructs GUYMINE personnel to come get him and by day clean, meeting with Dr Peter Fernandes at Moblisssa to discuss livestock and rumenary animals on the highway.  He was also very disciplined and was motivated by a higher source and force; greed was never in his line of sight.

When Dr Reid turned 60, I was there at Dartmouth in 1978.  The village school was re-named 8th of May.  It was a beautiful happening.  Pledges, patriotic songs, skits, tributes and lots of food all grown and prepared by the folks made for a fine package.  Something exept a pageant but more like a protest is needed now to recapture the soul of man who has done us all damn good.  This year, we may not do it physically but in your mind’s eye, mimic a protest, pretend as if it is happening and change will come.  AMEN.


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