I woke up to the raised voices of my mother and brother this morning. She wanted him to go vote for someone, anyone. He wanted to go vote for no one. He looked to me for an answer. I knew this day would come and I knew that it would be hardest to tell him the truth.
I have held my tongue for months waiting for the campaign period to buy and sell souls; waiting for Guyanese young and old to make their decisions without further interference. And now that the day has finally come and now that my brother looks me in the eye waiting for an answer, I must give one.
After a deep breath I tell him this: “Look boss, must learn to avoid confrontation sometimes. Where’s the point in fighting with her about not voting? And where’s the point in not voting? You have to go vote and exercise your democratic right. It’s your right that many people have fought for you to have. Respect it. The fact of the matter is that I know who I’m not voting for but I don’t know that I am confident enough to vote for any of my existing choices. So I get how you feel but I also know that we have to choose what we can live with or in this case what we cannot live with and what I can’t live with is the incestuous little kings ruling me and you as if we were merely peasants nor can I risk continuing this tradition of politics. So go and choose and then come back and change things yourself and while you’re at it, please tell our mother that there’s nothing to be afraid of but herself.”
I repeated this same conversation with several other youngsters in my village. And as I write, I’m waiting to accompany a young woman to her polling station so that she can have her say in our country’s future.
At this point, I must agree with the late Walter Rodney’s sentiments. He once said that it would be pointless to blame any one political entity for the racial divide because each has been equally responsible. And that right there is the truth of the matter. It has been a ruling class of elites, a ruling class of politicians, who has over the last decades of independence led us along this road. Our existing politicians have either had a hand in creating our political system or have been a product of it.
Change will not come until we shift the tradition of politics in Guyana. The truth is that most of our ruling class, our political leaders, freely take part in the incestuous engagements which have sucked the life from our country. They have all tasted power and they have all, to some degree, been poisoned by it. Ask yourself this question: where are our political heroes during that critical period between elections?
Committing to vote for one party for a single elections does not mean giving them your soul. It means recognizing that at this point in our country’s development this one group is the best choice for moving forward. Politicians must learn that they are at the mercy of the people and not the other way around.
And so, I am in a place today where I can vote without being owned by any political entity. Instead, I vote knowing that I have made the best choice I can for myself, my family and our people.
The only thing I hope for tomorrow is that regardless of the outcome of today’s elections young people will begin to recognize that the way forward is not to rest their dreams on the backs of men long broken by the lure of power but to become leaders themselves.
So during the period between this elections and the next, I hope to see young men and woman stand and take this country from those old, misguided hands and begin to build it themselves. In the end, we are not pro this party or that party or this politician or that politician. In the end, we must see that we are only for our people, all of our people.