January 17, 2010

The lesson of Haiti

Posted in Environment, Politics tagged , , , at 9:20 pm by randallbutisingh

The lesson of Haiti – by Fidel Castro

January 14, 2009. 8:25 p.m.

TWO days ago, at almost six o’clock in the evening Cuban time and when, given its geographical location, night had already fallen in Haiti, television stations began to broadcast the news that a violent earthquake – measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale – had severely struck Port-au-Prince. The seismic phenomenon originated from a tectonic fault located in the sea just 15 kilometers from the Haitian capital, a city where 80% of the population inhabit fragile homes built of adobe and mud.

The news continued almost without interruption for hours. There was no footage, but it was confirmed that many public buildings, hospitals, schools and more solidly-constructed facilities were reported collapsed. I have read that an earthquake of the magnitude of 7.3 is equivalent to the energy released by an explosion of 400,000 tons of TNT.

Tragic descriptions were transmitted. Wounded people in the streets were crying out for medical help, surrounded by ruins under which their relatives were buried. No one, however, was able to broadcast a single image for several hours.

The news took all of us by surprise. Many of us have frequently heard about hurricanes and severe flooding in Haiti, but were not aware of the fact that this neighboring country ran the risk of a massive earthquake. It has come to light on this occasion that 200 years ago, a massive earthquake similarly affected this city, which would have been the home of just a few thousand inhabitants at that time.

At midnight, there was still no mention of an approximate figure in terms of victims. High-ranking United Nations officials and several heads of government discussed the moving events and announced that they would send emergency brigades to help. Given that MINUSTAH (United Stabilization Mission in Haiti) troops are deployed there – UN forces from various countries – some defense ministers were talking about possible casualties among their personnel.

It was only yesterday, Wednesday morning, when the sad news began to arrive of enormous human losses among the population, and even institutions such as the United Nations mentioned that some of their buildings in that country had collapsed, a word that does not say anything in itself but could mean a lot.

For hours, increasingly more traumatic news continued to arrive about the situation in this sister nation. Figures related to the number of fatal victims were discussed, which fluctuated, according to various versions, between 30,000 and 100,000. The images are devastating; it is evident that the catastrophic event has been given widespread coverage around the world, and many governments, sincerely moved by the disaster, are making efforts to cooperate according to their resources.

The tragedy has genuinely moved a significant number of people, particularly those in which that quality is innate. But perhaps very few of them have stopped to consider why Haiti is such a poor country. Why does almost 50% of its population depend on family remittances sent from abroad? Why not analyze the realities that led Haiti to its current situation and this enormous suffering as well?

The most curious aspect of this story is that no one has said a single word to recall the fact that Haiti was the first country in which 400,000 Africans, enslaved and trafficked by Europeans, rose up against 30,000 white slave masters on the sugar and coffee plantations, thus undertaking the first great social revolution in our hemisphere. Pages of insurmountable glory were written there. Napoleon’s most eminent general was defeated there. Haiti is the net product of colonialism and imperialism, of more than one century of the employment of its human resources in the toughest forms of work, of military interventions and the extraction of its natural resources.

This historic oversight would not be so serious if it were not for the real fact that Haiti constitutes the disgrace of our era, in a world where the exploitation and pillage of the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants prevails.

Billions of people in Latin American, Africa and Asia are suffering similar shortages although perhaps not to such a degree as in the case of Haiti.
Situations like that of that country should not exist in any part of the planet, where tens of thousands of cities and towns abound in similar or worse conditions, by virtue of an unjust international economic and political order imposed on the world. The world population is not only threatened by natural disasters such as that of Haiti, which is a just a pallid shadow of what could take place in the planet as a result of climate change, which really was the object of ridicule, derision, and deception in Copenhagen.

It is only just to say to all the countries and institutions that have lost citizens or personnel because of the natural disaster in Haiti: we do not doubt that in this case, the greatest effort will be made to save human lives and alleviate the pain of this long-suffering people. We cannot blame them for the natural phenomenon that has taken place there, even if we do not agree with the policy adopted with Haiti.

But I have to express the opinion that it is now time to look for real and lasting solutions for that sister nation.

In the field of healthcare and other areas, Cuba – despite being a poor and blockaded country – has been cooperating with the Haitian people for many years. Around 400 doctors and healthcare experts are offering their services free of charge to the Haitian people. Our doctors are working every day in 227 of the country’s 337 communes. On the other hand, at least 400 young Haitians have trained as doctors in our homeland. They will now work with the reinforcement brigade which traveled there yesterday to save lives in this critical situation. Thus, without any special effort being made, up to 1,000 doctors and healthcare experts can be mobilized, almost all of whom are already there willing to cooperate with any other state that wishes to save the lives of the Haitian people and rehabilitate the injured. Another significant number of young Haitians are currently studying medicine in Cuba.

We are also cooperating with the Haitian people in other areas within our reach. However, there can be no other form of cooperation worthy of being described as such than fighting in the field of ideas and political action in order to put an end to the limitless tragedy suffered by a large number of nations such as Haiti.

The head of our medical brigade reported: “The situation is difficult, but we have already started saving lives.” He made that statement in a succinct message hours after his arrival yesterday in Port-au-Prince with additional medical reinforcements.

Later that night, he reported that Cuban doctors and ELAM’s Haitian graduates were being deployed throughout the country. They had already seen more than 1,000 patients in Port-au-Prince, immediately establishing and putting into operation a hospital that had not collapsed and using field hospitals where necessary. They were preparing to swiftly set up other centers for emergency care.
We feel a wholesome pride for the cooperation that, in these tragic instances, Cuba doctors and young Haitian doctors who trained in Cuba are offering our brothers and sisters in Haiti!

— Fidel Castro Ruz
January 14, 2009. 8:25 p.m.

Translated by Granma International

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November 18, 2009

Buxton-Friendship

Posted in Buxton, Economics, Friendship, Guyana, Lusignan, Politics tagged , at 6:32 pm by randallbutisingh

 

Buxton-Friendship

By Harry Hergash

Harry Hergash, a graduate of the University of Guyana, taught at the Annandale Government Secondary from 1964 to 1969. He immigrated to Canada in 1974.

In this column I would like to share my recollections of the village of Buxton-Friendship, East Coast Demerara. Historically, after starting out as separate villages that were purchased and built by freed African slaves, they were amalgamated into one around 1841.  By the beginning of the nineteen sixties, Buxton-Friendship was possibly the most progressive and prosperous village in Guyana. It was known for its highly educated sons and daughters, civic minded citizens, hard working farmers and fisherman, skilled tradesmen, and prosperous business people, where citizens of African and Indian origins lived together peacefully.

Indians, who started arriving in the village in the 1890s, emulated the Africans in striving for education and social betterment in the country. By the 1950s they were scattered throughout the village with concentrated enclaves in the area along the seashore, referred to as Buxton Front, where there were some of the most renowned sea-fishermen in the country; on both sides of the railway embankment around the railway station where they worked as pawnbrokers and jewellers, and operated clothing and hardware stores; and in the area along Brush dam where they raised cattle and grew rice in adjoining estate lands. Most if not all of them adhered to Indian cultural traditions, and Buxton could boast of having some of the most educated and finest Indian musicians and singers of Chowtaals, Ramayan and Bhajans.

I remember Saturdays and Mondays as prime market days at the municipal market next to the Post Office, just off Company Road, a stone’s throw from the railway station. The interaction and relationships between Africans and Indians were based on mutual respect and trust, befitting two peoples who depended on the fruits of each other’s labour. Indians from the estate areas of Lusignan Pasture and Annandale Sand Reef to the West and Vigilance to the East would bring their produce of garden vegetables (ochro, bora, calaloo, etc.) to sell to the African villagers who would sell them fruits, plantains and ground provisions (cassava, eddoes, sweet potatoes, etc.). Both groups would then patronise the fishermen and the butchers who operated their stalls in a corner of the market where the odour was quite distinct. Before noon, the efficient Mr. Brown would have already completed his rounds and collected from vendors all market fees.

During my childhood in the 1950s, I traversed every street and cross street in the combined village in the company of my grandparents and uncles who sold feed to the many self-employed villagers who farmed the back-lands and raised chicken and pigs in their yards. Every Sunday morning we travelled around the village in a dray cart hauled by three donkeys laden with paddy, broken rice and bhoosi (pulverized rice shells produced during milling) which was sold to customers to be used as chicken and pig feed. By midday, with our task completed after serving the last customer along Friendship Middle Walk, we would stop at the Esso station, the first petrol station to be built on the East Coast of Demerara, where I would get a treat of Brown Betty ice-cream or Fudgsicle while the elders collected the “wet-cell” battery that had been left the week before for recharging.. In those days, radio sets of that period with names such as KB, Grundig, Phillips and Pye, were operated in the rural areas with current from a battery similar to a motor-car’s battery that had to be recharged periodically at a gas station.

Regrettably, the madness of racial discord and intolerance raised its ugly head in the country in 1963 and by 1964 Buxton-Friendship, like other parts of the country, was consumed. As Indians hurriedly relocated from the predominantly African villages to the safety of predominantly Indian areas, Africans did the same in the reverse. Even then, many good people on both sides risked their lives and property to help those on the other side, but it was not enough to stem the mass migration from villages and the formation of segregated communities. This was the beginning of squatting areas or shantytowns in Guyana. Overnight pastures and swamplands were cramped with makeshift houses and places like Lusignan East and West, Haslington, Logwood, etc. came into being.

Sadly, Buxton-Friendship never recovered from this restructuring. With independence coming shortly thereafter and government jobs becoming readily available, many African villagers deserted the self- sufficiency of independent occupations – carpentry, cabinet making, blacksmith, guttersmith, farming and the raising of livestock, opting instead for the apparent security of salaried occupations.  As the village tax base deteriorated, critical infrastructural work on roads, drainage and irrigation was neglected, and by the time the oil crisis and world-wide economic downturn hit us, both citizens and the village as a whole found it difficult to cope which resulted in the serious political repercussions of later years.

Buxton-Friendship’s loss of Indian fishermen and business people was the gain of Annandale and Lusignan. Almost overnight, in the midst of the turmoil and agony of 1964, a market developed in Annandale North’s Centre Street, rechristened “Market Street”. It quickly replaced Buxton’s municipal market as the commercial centre for the surrounding areas, and by 1965, African Buxtonians were also patronizing the vendors in Annandale. Likewise many of the hardware and clothing stores relocated to Annandale.  And the fishermen formerly of Buxton Front became the enterprising fishermen of Lusignan East where the fishing industry was taken to new heights as the importation of salted cod and canned fish was banned during the period of economic hardship of the 1980s.

Now more than four decades later, as I reflect on the deaths and destruction of 1964 and the havoc wreaked on the communities of Buxton and Annandale, I cannot help but recall that it was the ordinary citizens, not the external forces that combined to destabilise the country, and certainly not those individual politicians of both major parties in whose names the so many horrendous acts were perpetrated, who were the victims and losers in all the madness and mayhem. It was these ordinary folks who became homeless, and it was their children who became motherless, fatherless or orphans. And when it came to healing and restoring some semblance of peace and harmony, it was community leaders who had to pick up the pieces. It was Eusi Kwayana as the respected leader of Buxton, and Pandit Ramsahai Doobay as the respected leader of Annandale, who met with then British Colonial Secretary, Duncan Sandys, on the Annandale Side-line dam (then referred to as the Maginot line, a term used by the French in the Second World War) to discuss and work out arrangements that played their own part in establishing an uneasy peace in the villages.

I am now an emigrant from the land of my birth. As I follow developments of recent years in the communities of Buxton-Friendship and neighbouring areas, I am saddened that lessons of the past seem to have been forgotten. Ordinary citizens of these communities have once again been the victims and they are the ones who once again have to start rebuilding the good inter-personal relationships and trust, sorely damaged by needless strife and violence. The time has surely come for people to realize that while politicians remain unscathed and continue to enjoy the perquisites of office, it is they the poor folks who will always have to bear the consequences of actions by their “representatives”. It is they who have to live side by side as neighbours and interact with each other. As we look to the future, let us be guided by the actions and teachings of the elders of our communities. Let us remember a time not so very long ago, when an African grandmother would give a special bath of blue water to an Indian child to protect that child from the mythical “old-higue”, and an Indian mother would pay a penny to nominally “buy” an African child so that child could grow up to be healthy and strong. Let us remember our history.

(This is one of a series of weekly columns from Guyanese in the diaspora and others with an interest in issues related to Guyana and the Caribbean)

 

September 15, 2009

Letter to Congressman Joe Wilson

Posted in Politics, USA politics tagged , at 5:36 am by randallbutisingh

Letter to Congressman Joe Wilson – by Helen Burleson

This letter from an 80 year old woman, and likely it will mean little to Mr. Wilson, but she expresses her outrage at his behavior in the USA Congress during President’s Obama’s speech so aptly. Please take the time to read this thoughtful letter written by Helen Burleson an 80 year old woman to Congressman Joe Wilson.  It says it all: 


                                                              56 Graymoor Lane
                                                        Olympia Fields, IL 60461
                                                            September 10, 2009

Joe Wilson, Member
United States Congress
212 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D. C 20515-4002 

903 Port Republic Street
Beaufort, South Carolina 29902

 Mr. Wilson:

I am an 80 year old mother and my older child is 51 years old; but, if ever I were to hear him call anyone a liar or rudely and obstreperously tell someone they were telling a lie, I would slap his face.  My two children, 41 and 51 respectively, are very well reared as was I.  I can remember as a little innocent child calling someone a liar.  I only did it one time because the lecture in the form of a lesson in proper decorum sank in, and to this day, I have never called anyone a liar.  My mother considered this the ultimate in rudeness and disrespect, not only for the person I called a liar, but for me, myself.

Having learned that lesson at such an early age, it made me cringe when you, at age 62, and a former military man, yelled to the President of the United States of America, “You lie.” As a military man, you know the chain of command; and, you were addressing the Commander in Chief of the United States of America.  Of course, President Obama who is a very refined gentleman did not respond and he kept right on target delivering the most brilliant speech I have ever heard.  I can say this with a degree of authority because I have been witness to every presidency since Herbert Hoover.  Never in the hallowed halls of Congress have I witnessed such coarse, gross, despicable behavior.

I don’t know if your mother is alive or not, but if she is, I’m certain that she hung her head in shame knowing that all over the world you have disgraced her, yourself, your wife, your four sons, your office, your constituency and your country.  Children of good breeding, who are properly reared, carry the teachings of their parents throughout their lives.  At 80 everything I do is tested against, “what would my mother think of that?”  I would never defame her precious memory by demonstrating lack of self control and knowledge of the social graces that separate women from ladies and men from gentlemen.

 My mother was a proper Southern genteel lady who commanded respect because of the way she carried herself.  I would think that your being from the South, you would have gotten some of that good ole Southern hospitality and gentility that seems to be characteristic of intelligent people of the South.

 I do so hope you will listen to the foreign media as I did late last night.  You are an international disgrace because from Ireland to China and England, your crudity was the main topic of conversation.

 I note that you have a law degree.  I wonder how proud your alma mater, University of South Carolina Law School, was of you tonight as you showed to the world that education without character is vacuous and meaningless.  There is a popular expression of people with degrees who lack common sense; they are referred to as “educated fools.”

If you were playing to the media and to the camera for attention, you succeeded because your worldwide legacy will be that you were the ill-suited and ill-placed person who demeaned himself in the halls of Congress for the first time in U.S. history.

 Written with embarrassment for my country,

 — Helen L. Burleson, Doctor of Public Administration

September 12, 2009

The first-timer’s guide to Guyana

Posted in Guyana, History, Politics tagged , at 11:52 pm by randallbutisingh

The first-timer’s guide to Guyana

By John Gimlette (from UK travel magazine (Wanderlust)

From cowboys to conservationists, cricket-mad Indians to shy Amerindians, Guyana is a country of survivors

When I arrived in Georgetown I found it in the grip of a good murder trial, and so I went along to watch. In one sense it was like a courtroom drama circa 1790. The accused, Blacksam and Buggins, were old felons who drank in taverns and ate saltfish and souse. Then, one day, they picked a Georgian quarrel with their neighbour and despatched him with a cutlass. In every other sense, the trial was like a snapshot of modern life in Guyana. Defence counsel was, like every third Guyanese, Indian (and spoke a rich Creole, well-larded with Dickens and Donne). Another third of the populace, the Africans, were represented by the judge and the constables; the remainder, the mixed races, by the jury. In their 12 furrowed faces was the story of Guyana: slaves, Amerindians, ‘Chineymen’, Irish adventurers, Scottish cattlemen, pirates, pioneers and Pathans.

Equally intriguing was the backdrop, which was all so lumpishly British. With its arches, wrought iron and corrugated gables, the Victoria Law Courts were a lingering fantasy of tropical gothic. There was even a statue of Victoria herself. She’d recovered her head, I noticed, after losing it in the squabbles over independence in 1961. “Ask not for whom the bell tolls…” thundered the Indian, but the jury didn’t hear. The rains had come early and sounded like horses thundering on the tin. But somehow mercy survived and the verdict was manslaughter. Off went the prisoners, grinning through their chains. “Yeah, man,” said the constable, “they been spared the noose…” From the court, a beautiful city, as light as feathers, flutters off down the coast.
Perhaps – like its people – Georgetown doesn’t truly believe that it belongs here, and so it hovers over the water. It’s all built on canals and breezes, a city of stilts and clapboard, brilliant whites, fretwork, spindles and louvres. The streets are as wide as fields, and the cathedral seems to drift endlessly upwards, reputedly the tallest wooden building in the world.

One area of the city is even called Lacytown as if, at any moment, it might simply take off and drift away – home, perhaps. Water is a constant feature of the Townies’ lives. At high tide, the sea looms 2m above the city, held back by a wall. Concrete rots here, and even cars seem to moulder. By day, the canals are velvety and green, and by night they’re operatic with frogs. “Why? Why?” they sing, which makes the dogs all howl. Nature, it seems, is gradually reclaiming its inheritance. Among this riot of parrots and flamboyants, the Townies can still be fleetingly British. Even now, you can buy a bottle of Nerve Tonic or a sausage roll at Fogarty’s department store.

Other survivors include Hackney carriages, EIIR letterboxes and a pair of Sebastopol cannons.  Once I even saw a large building site called Buckingham Palace, although – sadly – financing had failed before any resemblance took shape.
Despite these trappings, however, the Guyanese are neither British nor truly South American but live in a world of their own. Sometimes it seems that being foreign comes so naturally to them that they don’t even understand themselves. Originally, each race had its own political party. With a population of only 770,000, this often makes Guyana feel like several dozen countries all stuffed into one. I even felt this as

I walked across Georgetown; one moment I’d be passing Chinatown, then a mosque, and then a Mexican circus (‘With real tigers!’) before finally ending up in a festival of extreme chutney.

All this might not be so odd in a big city, yet Georgetown is tiny. There’s only one escalator in the whole town (it still draws a crowd), and the beautiful National Art Gallery receives just 20 visitors a month. Everyone knows everyone, even the men who sell horse dung from their carts. Almost all the old buildings are famous, sometimes for several things at once. My hotel, Cara Lodge – apart from being a masterpiece of Victorian carpentry – was once the home of the colony’s orchestra, the basketball squad and the communist party. During the rule of Forbes Burnham (1964-85), it was even used by the resistance movement as a base for making bombs. “Go west across the Demerara,” people said, “and you’ll soon see who built this country.”

It was not, I realised, the British. The clue was in the names, thickly clustered along the shore: Vreed-en-Hoop, Harlem, Uitvlugt and Tuschen. For well over half Guyana’s colonial history (from the late 16th to early 19th centuries), the Dutch were in command. Here, on the coast, they stripped out the mangroves, drained the mudflats and walled off the sea. It was a Pharaonic achievement, costing thousands of African lives. Even now, looking inland, the horizon is just a bold green curve of sugar cane; the coastal strip remains the home of almost 90% of Guyanese.

After an hour’s bus ride from Georgetown I came to the main artery of the Dutch colonisers’ operation. The Essequibo is the largest of Guyana’s four great rivers (the Demerara, Berbice and Corentyne run parallel, progressively further east), with a mouth big enough to swallow Barbados. It looks like a vast, rum-coloured sea, lavishly spotted with islands and spills of squeaky clean white sand. As each rocky outcrop blurred past, my boatman would sing out its story. “This was a leper colony…” he’d say, “and this one’s Eddy Grant’s…”

At the Dutch islands a few kilometres upstream we stopped and clambered into the jungle. At Fort Kyk-over-al there was nothing but an arch but, on Fort Island, a huge star fort, dated 1739, still loomed up out of the forest. Next to it was a large brick hall. This had been the seat of government for a wild land, only 4% of which the Dutch had ever seen. Although the Zeelanders called this the Court of Policy, it was really no more than a parliament of ants.
It was easy to see why the Dutch had loved the Essequibo. Everything seemed abundant, and even the birds – tanagers and tyrants – seemed to jangle like fresh-minted money.

I stayed on a luxurious silvery river beach, once a Dutch camp and now a resort called Baganara. At first it seemed I was the only person who’d ever stayed there – except Mick Jagger (who’d left his picture over the bar).

Later, I moved further upstream and stayed in a Benedictine monastery. Every few hours the brothers’ euphonious chanting would lift out of the rubber trees and carry across the water. On the opposite bank was another Dutch institution: probably the most beautiful prison in the world.

On the way back downriver I stopped at an old sugar estate called Wales. It employed 2,000 souls, including rat catchers and lady weeders. Meanwhile, the cane is harvested exactly as it had been three centuries before: charred first, cut by hand and then heaved into barges. It often felt as though the Dutch had never left, especially near their graves. “They’re haunted,” said my guide. “We never urinate here.”

But the Dutch have left more than ghosts. Here, a sluice is still a koker and a wharf a stelling. Even better is their litter that still bubbles up out of the mud. In Meten-Meer-Zorg, back on the coast, I stayed with Gary Serao, who rents out beds in his extraordinary museum. Among his ephemera I spotted manacles, 17th-century wine jars, cannonballs and heaps of flasks for Zeeland gin. By 1800 the Dutch had become spectacularly debauched. Their planters carried ivory whistles, and every day began with gin and ended with a slave-girl, all painted up like an Amsterdam whore.

Naturally, the early Guyanese had often risen in revolt. Even now their descendants have a healthy suspicion of authority. The slaves’ big moment came further south-east and 160km inland. Today it’s called Dubulay, a pretty ranch overlooking the Berbice River. Back in March 1763 this was Peerboom (Pear Tree), a plantation house besieged by 2,000 machete-wielding slaves. As the Dutch fled for the river, the rebels butchered them. The remains of this struggle are still scattered along the foreshore: broken bricks, tiles, and shards of pottery and glass.

I followed the revolt all the way back to the sea. It was a sad and beautiful voyage. My boatman Bob Kertzious, descended from both the slaves and the slavers, knew all the landmarks of this bloody revolt: Juliana, Vigilantie and Dageraad (Daybreak). The region had never recovered. Even after the uprising was crushed, this, one of the richest settlements in the world, had simply reverted to jungle. We stopped only twice. Once was to visit Bob’s parents, who lived in a hut decorated with rag mats, ships’ paint and an old Dutch bottle. The other stop was Fort Nassau. It looked almost exactly the same as it did the day the rebels sacked it, except now it’s being slowly prised apart by macaws and strangler figs.

Things looked very different on the Berbice coast. The walls of vegetation parted, and India appeared: I could see prayer flags and minarets. In New Amsterdam (which was like a mini Georgetown), I even found a curry shop, although the choice was bush hog, chicken or iguana. Unsurprisingly, it was the British who were responsible for this eerie infusion of Asia. With slavery abolished, from 1838 they began to import Indian labour. Over the next 80 years some 250,000 Indians arrived, becoming the predominant race.

The introduction of Indians to this, the old wild coast, has created a curious new culture. Eastern Guyana is now a hotbed of cricket (not to mention communists, giant pink elephants and grand sari pageants). But it’s also a place that’s not quite like anywhere else in the world. Here there are Hindus in cowboy hats, halal snackettes (snack shops) and beggars with green parrots. Once I even spotted a petrol station called Vishaul & his Three Adorable Sisters. This was India, alright – but with a South American swagger.
For the rest of my Guyanese encounters I needed a plane. Beyond the coastal strip a vast forest begins, covering 80% of the country. For hundreds of kilometres it sprawls inland before spreading out among some of the oldest mountains in the world. Somewhere in it, or beyond it, live the remaining 10% of the Guyanese people.

I loved flying over this forest. The canopy itself was so dark and dense that it felt like a journey through a long green night. The foliage seems to swallow everything – even waterfalls like Kaieteur, at 228m, loftier than the BT Tower (and undiscovered until 1870). Until the aeroplane age, Guyana’s interior was accessible only by river. Small wonder that it became the literary refuge of lost worlds (Conan Doyle), lost minds (Evelyn Waugh) and cities made of gold (Raleigh).

I had my first encounter with the people hidden in here at Iwokrama. For the Amerindians, it’s always been a special place. Now it’s a 4,000 sq km forest with a research centre. There are little riverside huts for tourists and a village, Fair View, for the Makushi, an Amerindian tribe whose ancestors have lived in this forest for perhaps 10,000 years.

It seems an idyllic life. By day, we pottered round the forest, identifying cures for everything from ringworm (aromata) to diabetes (wild mango). The Makushi could be alternately shy and uninhibited, and every mealtime was a gathering of clans. It was like taking our own lives and stripping them of clutter: no chairs, no floors, no cash and no concept of time. “We like it here,” one man told me. “We got canes for our arrows, and plenty of monkeys.”

Later, as I moved further south to the edge of the forest, a more complex picture emerged. Although the Makushi village of Surama has its own breezy ecolodge with a view across the unknown, I opted to stay with a family. Paula has a tattooed face; Daniel is a hunter. They live on a beautiful hill in a house made of leaves. There was no water, no electricity, and nine of us slept in the hut. We washed out in the long grass and ate whatever Daniel caught. “Life’s become harder,” he said, “since the jaguars killed all our horses.”

But if the temporal world seemed tough, the spiritual world was tougher. Makushi life is deeply infested with magic. There are supernatural boulders and trees that turn you grey. Later, in Yupukari, I met a man who thought his brother had been drowned by a ghost – this in a village with a new American library and an exquisite boutique hotel for alligator lovers, Caiman House.

Daniel was unsure about the modern world and whether he wanted to join it. On my last day he gave me a 2m bow with five arrows. “Take them back to London,” he said, “and then you’ll remember us whenever you use them.”
Beyond Surama the trees gave way to a vast, golden plain about the size of Scotland. The Rupununi savannahs are home to the world’s biggest ants, biggest otters, biggest anteaters and most ferocious fish. Few Europeans have ever settled here. However, some remained, and now they often take in guests. One was Colin Edwards, who’d built the road through the forest. (“Until then, Guyana leaned towards the Caribbean,” he told me. “I linked it to South America.”) He’d never stopped building, and now runs Rockview, an oasis of orchards and cottages, with a bar that sells bras and machetes.

Another of the great Rupununi hosts is Diane McTurk. Her ranch, Karanambu, is on a riverbank, deep in the thorns. “I was born here in 1932,” she told me: “a wild child.” Although she’d been away (with a stint at London’s Savoy Hotel), Karanambu still feels like a wild childhood.

There are thatched huts, fruit trees, a collection of war clubs, a tiny beach and a pet racoon. Diane has also raised more than 40 orphaned giant otters, two still in residence. Every day a bowman padded off down to the river, to shoot them a bucket of fish.

For the final leg of my journey I drove south for another two days to find wildness of a different kind. Dadanawa is like the Wild West, yet even more remote. At 4,400 sq km it’s the biggest ranch in Guyana, tucked away behind a massive ridge of jungle (the Kanuku Mountains) and a river the width of the Thames (and three times as long). For the last bit of this journey my driver had to put our truck on a raft of oil drums and float it through the torrents.

The ranch was an unforgettable adventure. Pretty soon even the Wild West seemed fluffy in comparison. Of course, there were the same big rivers, mountains and stampedes, but Guyana can also be brutally exotic. Almost every night jaguars attacked the cattle. Meanwhile, watching a round-up was like witnessing an extraordinarily violent sport in which no one – miraculously – gets hurt.
Everyone here lives an extraordinary life. My hosts, the de Freitas family, slept (like me) in a sort of cricket pavilion on stilts overlooking the Kanukus.

They are descended from Portuguese immigrants who fled the great famine of Madeira in 1834. Guyana had suited them well; now they manage 5,000 cattle, 34 staff and two bright-red macaws known as the ‘Terrorists’. Not that there is money. The family lives in a delightful cemetery of Land Rovers, surviving on home-grown vegetables and the BBC World Service. Each of their children they’d delivered by themselves.

The cowboys, on the other hand, are Wapishana Indians and sleep in barracks. They all carried long knives like swords and rode brilliantly, barefoot and often bareback. The youngest, I discovered, was 12, and sang as he rode. One, a saddle-maker called Uncle Cyril, was descended from the long-extinct Atorad tribe.

With their hawkish faces and taut, athletic frames, it’s  hard to believe they were from the same country as the coastlanders. When my favourite, Orvin, was bitten by a snake, he simply tied a tourniquet round his arm and rode off to join his friends.

Perhaps none of this should surprise me. This, after all,is Guyana: a garden built by God, inhabited by survivors and lived to the full.

August 25, 2009

Unity not division

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Religion tagged , , , , , at 2:08 am by randallbutisingh

If we accept the concept that All Mankind is One, that Humanity is Indivisible, that there is only One Race, the Human Race, that One loving God is the Father of all – a Universal Brotherhood, then why do we go about spending enormous sums of money which could kelp to feed all,  to make weapons  to destroy one another.  All need protection because all are interdependent.  Why do Nations blind themselves to that fact.

The present crisis has hit all nations; this means that all are affected.  We should now seek Cooperation and Unity in order to stem the  disasters which will reach all.  In  Unity there is strength.  If this Nation is truly Christian, it will heed the injunction:  ‘We are our brother’s keeper.”  The Jew as well as the Arab, as well as all the other ethnic groups are our brothers.  To talk of making war to protect the American people is wrong thinking.   all God’s people need protection.  Our neighbour made in the image of God is our own dear self.

There is no way in which war can bring security and peace;  only seething hate from the humiliated vanquished and the desire for revenge;   history has proved that over and over again.  One cannot desroy another and save oneself;  in the same way one cannot help another without helping one self.

The present conflicts in which this country is engaged  can only foster more hate, squander its resources of human beings and materials and impoverish the Nation.  It is time to wake up and stop all conflicts and begin destrying your enemies as Lincoln puts it, by making them your friends; and see that justice is given to all alike.

The vision should be the establishment of One World, One People, One Destiny; also One Religion – Love, and one Objective – Selfless Service.   And the Slogan: “UNITE  or PERISH”

– Randall Butisingh

August 11, 2009

A 1924 History of British Guiana

Posted in Economics, Education, Guyana, History, Politics tagged , , , at 1:40 am by randallbutisingh

A 1924 History of British Guiana

. The St. Stanislaus College was a Jesuit-run High School in British Guiana, which became a Government high School after Independence in 1966, when British Guiana became Guyana.

St Stanislaus has a very vibrant Alumni Association in Toronto. The group has managed to get a copy of a book (126 pages) on the history of British Guiana, written in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, and printed in London by Sanders Phillips & Co., Ltd., at the Baynard Press, Chryssell Road, London SW9.
It makes for very interesting reading and gives the history, geography, economic statistics and social information like population etc. One may note from the contents that the colony at the time was under-appreciated by the its colonial masters. Now with Independence the same under- appreciation continues as the current masters have done little to take full advantage of the abundant natural resources of the country.
Thanks to alumnus John Sparrock, we have digitized this book it and placed it on a web-site so as to be accessible for all those who are interested in the history of British Guiana, before Independence.
.
To read it online or save it for future reading, go to :
 The whole document (126 pages) can be downloaded  from the Guyanese Online Blog as it is no longer on the St. Stanislaus website.  Go to:-
http://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/british-guiana-british-empire-exhibition-wembley-1924/
.
There are also photographs in the book but, to conserve space, these were separated and placed in :
http://picasaweb.google.com/blog4saints/BritishGuiana1924History?feat=directlink#

July 27, 2009

QUO VADIS DOMINE?

Posted in History, Lusignan, Philosophy, Politics, USA politics tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:07 am by randallbutisingh

QUO VADIS DOMINE by Patanjali Ramlall.

I have contributed to this Blog in the past. Mr. Randall Butisingh, my teacher in the 1950’s at Lusignan School, East Coast Demerara, British Guiana (now Guyana), has asked me to continue my writings and submit them to his Blog for inclusion. I thank him for this wonderful opportunity. Here is my latest contribution.

QUO VADIS DOMINE?

Reflecting on the 40th anniversary of man’s landing on the moon I am still perplexed as t o why we cannot close the human divide and reach in to ourselves to stop human conflicts and share the earth without greed and wars.

I read the book QUO VADIS at age fourteen in Middle Road La Penitence, Georgetown, British Guiana, now Guyana, in 1963. And I was never able to resolve its climax; the conflict within myself about the path of mankind’s quest for ruling over and conquering that which cannot be explained in simple terms and yet not pursuing or getting in touch with that which is within himself, his spirituality. To the point – I find it interesting that on 20th July, we touched the moon forty years ago and still need to reach in and touch ourselves.

The flag planted by Americans on the moon’s surface on 20th July, 1969 in part says, “….. we come in peace.” I was amazed at those words when I saw them for the first time on Monday 20th, 2009. From the mid-1960’s to the early 1970’s the United States was waging a conflict in Vietnam for land and control of a large part of Indo-China, maiming, burning villages and crops, causing hunger, despair, creating widows and orphans, displacing and slaughtering millions, and we had the
audacity to say on the flag “we come in peace” while annihilating thousands.

On 16th March 1968, a company of US infantry entered and massacred about 500 Vietnamese peasants, mostly women and children without any threat – from the village of My Lai. On 9th March, 1969, the U.S military began secret bombing operations in Cambodia, code-named Operation Menu, without the consent of the United States Congress.These secret bombings in turn gave rise to the hideous Pol Pot regime that murdered between 1 to 3 million people.
And yet  “…..we come in peace.”

What beautiful double talk, it smells.

Forty years after the moon’s landing we still wage wars – in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. We sit with our arms folded and allow a murderous military machine and inhumane regime to keep in continued detention for 19 years, the legally and democratically elected president, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, of Burma, now Myanmar. We close our eyes to the plight of Tibetans and the ethnic minorities of China, Russia, Darfur, and other parts of the African continent. And we boast of conquering the moon.

I saw the film QUO VADIS for the first time two weeks ago and realized that what I had read of Rome and the madman Nero who lived two thousand years ago is still pervasive in this so-called modern world.
Nothing has changed except our weapons and the technology for spying – we call it “intelligence-gathering”. The fantasy world that we live in is getting us no place fast, and against the birth right of our spiritual nature. The science involved in man’s missions to the moon has enriched our material world, e.g, clothes, space food, etc., but
not one iota of how to get in touch with, and conquer our own fears and insanity arising from it.

We can make a thousand  missions to the moon, Mars, Jupiter or wherever, but unless we make that inner one and first save ourselves we will be navigating a universe without direction. “We come in peace” should be our earthly resolve and spread among all nations before taking it to the stars. Man cannot give to the stars what he does not have for himself. It still smells.

Whither goest thou?

Or should I say to world leaders – QUO VADIS DOMINE?

Interestingly enough how about this on PEACE?  – Henry Kissinger Secretary of State under Nixon and Ford, and one of the intellectual players of OPERATION CONDOR, a covert operation that kidnapped and killed thousands in South America, won the Nobel Prize for Peace, and Mahatma Gandhi, that apostle of Peace and non violence was denied it by the British for his insistence on Indian independence.  As a matter of fact the Brits made an empty apology about holding back on the Mahatma a few years ago.  Check on Henry Kissenger on the Internet for more details on “Operation Condor”.

— Patanjali Ramlall

June 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

Posted in Economics, Education, History, Politics, Psychology, Science & Technology, USA politics tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:07 pm by randallbutisingh

An Open Letter to Arne Duncan

Summer 2009

From Herbert Kohl

<<It is hard for me to understand how educators can claim that they are creating high standards when the substance and content of learning is reduced to the mechanical task of getting a correct answer on a manufactured test. In the panic over teaching students to perform well on reading tests, educators seem to have lost sight of the fact that reading is a tool, an instrument that is used for pleasure and for the acquisition of knowledge and information about the way the world works. The mastery of complex reading skills develops as students grapple with ideas, learn to understand plot and character, and develop and articulate opinions on literature. They also develop through learning history, science, and technology.>>

Dear Arne Duncan,

In a recent interview with NEA Today you said of my book 36 Children, “I read [it] in high school … [and] … wrote about his book in one of my college essays, and I talked about the tremendous hope that I feel [and] the challenges that teachers in tough communities face. The book had a big impact on me.”

When I wrote 36 Children in 1965 it was commonly believed that African American students, with a few exceptions, simply could not function on a high academic level. The book was motivated by my desire to provide a counter-example, one I had created in my classroom, to this cynical and racist view, and to let the students’ creativity and intelligence speak for itself. It was also intended to show how important it was to provide interesting and complex curriculum that integrated the arts and sciences, and utilized the students’ own culture and experiences to inspire learning. I discovered then, in my early teaching career, that learning is best driven by ideas, challenges, experiences, and activities that engage students. My experience over the past 45 years has confirmed this.

We have come far from that time in the ’60s. Now the mantra is high expectations and high standards. Yet, with all that zeal to produce measurable learning outcomes we have lost sight of the essential motivations to learn that moved my students. Recently I asked a number of elementary school students what they were learning about and the reactions were consistently, “We are learning how to do good on the tests.” They did not say they were learning to read.

It is hard for me to understand how educators can claim that they are creating high standards when the substance and content of learning is reduced to the mechanical task of getting a correct answer on a manufactured test. In the panic over teaching students to perform well on reading tests, educators seem to have lost sight of the fact that reading is a tool, an instrument that is used for pleasure and for the acquisition of knowledge and information about the way the world works. The mastery of complex reading skills develops as students grapple with ideas, learn to understand plot and character, and develop and articulate opinions on literature. They also develop through learning history, science, and technology.

Reading is not a series of isolated skills acquired in a sanitized rote-learning environment utilizing “teacher-proof” materials. It develops through interaction with a knowledgeable, active teacher—through dialogue, and critical analysis. It also develops through imaginative writing and research.

It is no wonder that the struggle to coerce all students into mastering high-stakes testing is hardest at the upper grades. The impoverishment of learning taking place in the early grades naturally leads to boredom and alienation from school-based learning. This disengagement is often stigmatized as “attention deficit disorder.” The very capacities that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is trying to achieve are undermined by the way in which the law is implemented.

This impoverishment of learning is reinforced by cutting programs in the arts. The free play of the imagination, which is so crucial for problem-solving and even for entrepreneurship, is discouraged in a basics curriculum lacking in substantial artistic and human content.

Add to this the elimination of physical education in order to clear more time to torture students with mechanical drilling and shallow questioning and it is no wonder that many American students are lethargic when it comes to ideas and actions. I’m sure that NCLB has, in many cases, a direct hand in the development of childhood obesity.

It is possible to maintain high standards for all children, to help students learn how to speak thoughtfully, think through problems, and create imaginative representations of the world as it is and as it could be, without forcing them through a regime of high-stakes testing. Attention has to be paid to the richness of the curriculum itself and time has to be allocated to thoughtful exploration and experimentation. It is easy to ignore content when the sole focus is on test scores.

Your administration has the opportunity, when NCLB comes up for re-authorization, to set the tone, aspirations, and philosophical and moral grounds for reform that develops the intelligence, creativity, and social and personal sensitivity of students. I still hold to the hope you mentioned you took away from 36 Children but I sometimes despair about how we are wasting the current opportunity to create truly effective schools where students welcome the wonderful learning that we as adults should feel privileged to provide them.

I would welcome any opportunity to discuss these and other educational issues with you.

Sincerely, Herbert Kohl

…………………………………………………………………………….

COMMENT by Cyril Bryan, Guest Contributor.

Readers would note that some of the most popular items on this Web log relate to education. This is mainly due to the fact that Randall Butisingh has written his thoughts, and novel ideas relating to education which he practiced as a teacher for over 40 years.

I have selected this article “An Open Letter to Arne Duncan”, written by Herbert Kohl for inclusion on this Blog as the ideas of Mr. Kohl , I think, mirrors those that have been advanced by Mr. Butisingh in his writings. Mr. Arne Duncan, to whom this letter is addressed is the Education Secretary in the USA Obama government. Since the elections, there has been intensive politicking in regard to education in the USA as there are vested interests, like they are in Health Care, against change…. and Change is sorely needed in both of these critical areas, where most of the country’s budgets are spent.

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education strategies have failed, and what will replace them is the center of intense debate. Many of the issues that have been raised in relation to modern education, are the same in most countries of the world, so many countries could learn from the American experience.  The stress on passing exams through rote learning and the limited curriculum that excludes the arts and other creative subjects has created students who are unfit for this modern world that rewards creativity and adaptability. Education that stifles creativity also stifles the culture, economy and progress of a country, especially in these times of rapid technological change.

We do hope that the USA Education Secretary Arnie Duncan does read this letter and take note of its valuable insights. He said in the NEA Today Interview that he did read Mr Kohl’s book “36 Children””, and wrote on it in one of his College essays, and that the book did have an impact on him….. so he should understand what Mr. Kohl is talking about. Let us all hope that he does, and is capable of implementing at least some of them, for the sake of the USA and the World.

– Cyril Bryan

June 15, 2009

Discussions with Brian Konkol – 10

Posted in Economics, Politics, Religion, South Africa tagged , , at 1:32 am by randallbutisingh

Why hope?  – South Africa – June, 2009
by Brian E. Konkol)

If it were possible to record every form of communication in every corner of the globe, and if it were also possible to count and document the amount of times every word was used within those various forms of communication, I would be willing to bet the word “hope” has been utilized more often in the past year that in years previous.

Hope.

While “hope” as a message and state of mind has existed for countless generations, it has most certainly experienced a resurgence as of late.  In response to current challenges facing so many around the world, various individuals have responded through hope-filled political speeches, magazine articles, books, and television programs.  As a result, the declaration of “hope” is being received with passion and adopted with excitement by various global citizens.  Africans, Asians, South and North Americans, Eastern and Western Europeans, and various others from booming cities to rural farmlands listen to and speak of “new beginnings”, a “fresh start”, and making the global community function to its fullest.  Citizens on all continents are currently in the process of finding ways in which life can truly improve for the better, not only for a few, but for all.

While a large tide of hope is rising throughout the world, what I have long wondered is how people can possibly grasp to genuine hopefulness in the midst of such challenging social and economic conditions.  Yes, speeches and books can inspire, but at the end of the day, when the discourse is finished and the final page is turned, many people are left in extremely dreadful situations.  Why hope?  The World Bank reported that before the current global economic crisis, there were already more than one billion people living on less than $1 per day, while another three billion (…approximately half of the world’s population) were living on less than $2 per day.  In 2005, in what was considered “good times” compared to 2009, the poorest 40% of the world’s population accounted for 5% of global income, while the wealthiest 20% accounted for 75% of world income, and the wealthiest 10% accounted for 54%.  Why hope?

According to the South African Regional Poverty Network, the proportion of people living in poverty in South Africa has not changed significantly over the past fifteen years, that is, until the past twelve months.  Due in part to the global economic downturn, those households living in poverty have sunk deeper into economic despair, and the gap between rich and poor has widened.  Over 55% of South Africans live below the poverty line (…poverty estimates are calculated according to household size.  A household of four persons has a poverty income of R1 290 per month, which is roughly the equivalent of $161.25), recent estimates have shown a 25% unemployment rate (although these numbers steadily increase), a 30% HIV/AIDS infection rate has resulted in what some call “the death of a generation”, and the nation continues to struggle with crime, corruption, racism, sexism, and gross unequal distribution of land and resources.

Why hope?

A few days ago I asked a local friend this exact question, and I found his response to be quite enlightening.  “Why hope?”  I asked.  He responded with a quote from the fifth chapter of Romans: “…because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us…”  He expanded upon the biblical passage and commented that “hope does not disappoint” because “faithful hope” is not a matter of sitting around and waiting for something miraculous to happen, (which he poignantly called “stupid hope”!), but it is about taking inventory of one’s God-given capabilities, as well as the assets of the community, and doing what can and needs to be done for the welfare of all.  He reminded me that the “audacity of hope” must be followed by the “boldness of action”, and those placed in positions of power and authority are especially responsible to put their beliefs into action and help provide for those who simply do not have the resources to make a significant long-term and sustainable difference on their own.  He asserted that the current global economic crisis is both terrifying and exciting, for as people search for hope, it is an opportunity to redirect priorities for the greater common good.  However, he added, it is also terrifying, not only because of the terrible conditions people face, but because of increased desperation, the crisis may tempt some to look for answers in all the wrong places, and instead of helping others and thinking of ways to “build up” communities for the future, people will instead worry solely about themselves, perhaps blame and point fingers at others, and in the end “tear down” communities for the worse.  He concluded, “It is just a matter of ‘what message’ people are going to hear most loud and clear.”

I fully agree that the global economic crisis, and the resulting desire for global hope, brings both excitement and concern.  It is worth concern, because as people so desperately yearn for solutions, they are often willing to cling to just about anyone and/or anything that promises a better life.  The persistence of violence, extremism, discrimination, and intolerance in its various forms is a clear consequence of this reality.  But also, the search for hope brings incredible excitement, for this moment in history is an amazing opportunity for the “Good News” message of compassion, love, care, companionship, accompaniment, forgiveness, reconciliation, and justice to be received and shared in massive ways never dreamed of before.  This “crisis” is indeed an “opportunity” for better things, a space in time to re-evaluate our lives and priorities, consider what works and what does not, determine was is just or unjust, truly understand the ways we relate with others in our neighborhoods and around the world, and join together in solidarity to reshape the current day and age in which we live.

Why hope?

While the Church has its many imperfections (…I suppose I am one of them!), I am one who believes God is in the process of doing something incredible in and through this organization filled with faith-inspired people ready to act.  As a result of our current day and age, and out of a Spirit-driven desire to acknowledge and understand the connections we share with people across the globe, I fully believe the Church is about to experience an amazing renewal with an increased interest in global mission, advocacy, and heartfelt service which seeks to walk alongside companions publically and courageously in various walks of life, which can result in mutual respect, empowerment, understanding, and justice.  I believe this renewal is already taking place, and as it widens and deepens, it will result in increased involvement among youth and young adults, the often perceived disconnect between faith and “real life” will increasingly close, the often heard street-media message of hatred and fear will be replaced by the faith-filled proclamation that mutual empowerment and “abundant life” can be shared, and a new way of relating to one another can be learned and practiced.  With each passing day, as each person recognizes the face of God in all people and takes responsibility upon themselves and the communities that surround them, small steps forward will lead to gigantic leaps, and the message of hope will be transformed into the reality of progress, and the “new beginning” which so many seek will become realized.

And this, I believe, is why we hope.

We hope, not because of our own human greatness or importance, and not because of our individual intellectual or collective technological abilities to make life easier.  But rather, we hope because the same God who created us will not sit back, watch, and allow us and others to live in the midst of ongoing despair, injustice, and oppression.  We hope, not because it numbs our sorrows and allows us to survive the grind of each day, but because we have a genuine belief that our common humanity will inspire us to cooperate, our shared compassion will encourage us to love, our belief in wholeness of life will motivate us to act, and through God’s grace, those inspired to strive for the common good will far outnumber those with misguided motivations.  We hope, not because of rational calculation or skillful thought, but due to the unexplainable conviction that, through God’s strength and wisdom, and with the empowerment that comes through individual responsibility and collective action, that something better for all people is not a mere dream, but a beautiful reality that lies right around the corner.

We hope.
———————————————————————-.

Rev. Brian E. Konkol, Project Co-Coordinator, South Africa. Young Adults in Global Mission. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. P.O. Box 28694. Haymarket. 3200 South Africa. Phone: (Country Code 027) 033-396-5494.  Cell: (Country Code 027) 074-121-7779.

E-Mail: bekonkol@yahoo.com. Web (personal): http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com. Web (project): http://elcamud.blogspot.com

June 13, 2009

Leadership and addiction

Posted in Education, Philosophy, Politics, Religion tagged , , , at 3:00 am by randallbutisingh

In my education paper on The Role of the School,  in the chapter dealing with the Role of the Teacher, I wrote after their participation in a strike, which hampered the progress of education and human relationships:  “Also a teacher in his responsible capacity should not be slave to a habit, e.g. drinking , smoking, or other means of escapism if he is to be a good example and teach moderation (temperance)   Slavery to a habit diminishes character and the integrity becomes vulnerable.  Smoking, even out of lesson hours is a practice not in keeping with the best traditions of the profession.

This observance will also apply to leadership of all the noble professions – religious and political, or social organisations, especially now when it is discovered that it is deleterious to health.  One I have known, when he has found smoking was too expensive to continue the habit, substituted sweets when he had the urge; one man said he got rid of the cocaine habit by sheer force of will when he realised that it would ruin his life.  There is no addiction that cannot be conquered, if we realise its harm and really want to kick the habit.  Remember always that a habit can either be a friend or a foe.  Leaders need to kick the bad one, not only as an example to their followers but also for its effect on their own health and character.

-Randall Butisingh

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