Monday, February 14, 2011

Congratulations to Parkside Steel

Parkside Steel Orchestra arguably remains the modern Guyanese steel pan music standard bearers who continue to redefine musical excellence with their every performance. From its humble beginnings downstairs of the Department of Culture building which was located at the back of the National Park, Parkside has become the top steel band in the country.
I would like to congratulate the men and women of Parkside Steel for winning the recently held Republic Bank’s 2011 Mashramani Steel Band Competition. Parkside showed its dominating excellence by convincingly winning the competition by an astounding 36 points, beating their opponents by a wide margin.
As they enjoy their success, I would like to encourage the performers of Parkside to continue raising the bar for steel pan music in Guyana. I believe I can speak on behalf of all former members of the band who at some point would have contributed to the sweetness of the Parkside sound when I say we are exceedingly proud of your achievements thus far.
Republic Bank must be congratulated on their continued corporate sponsorship of this genre that so fittingly reflects the rich musical culture of the Guyanese people. It is hoped that other corporate sponsors could be so moved to support and develop this aspect of our national heritage.
Keep the notes sweet and the chords harmoniously rich with the musical genius and complexity that can only be produced by Parkside Steel.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dictatorship is finally broken in Egypt

There is a saying that goes like this: ‘Unity is strength and strength is power’. On Friday afternoon the world witnessed the powerful effect of Egyptian unity when their dictator Mr. Hosni Mubarak stepped down. It is important to note that at the best of times, Egyptians are a divided people. This division is either by religion, tribe, or just geographical location. Egyptians from Cairo often snob their Alexandrian bothers, Muslims and Christians are often at odds with each other. But over the last 18 days, all these differences were put aside as together Egyptians stood shoulder to shoulder in Tahrir square and demanded that there be an end to their three decade dictatorship. Over the last three weeks, Egyptians had one enemy and that was Hosni Mubarak the Dictator!
One of the many moving scenes from the Egyptian protests was the number of young people present. All these Egyptian youth know is dictatorial rule. The older protester can probably relate to the 60s and 70s when Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar el-Sadat ruled respectively. But the concentration of the crowds was young people who could not be dissuaded by Mubarak’s excuses for wanting to hold on to power. They had enough of him and wanted him gone. 
As the cries of Egypt is free, Egypt is free rose from Tahrir square and other parts of the country, great expectation grows in the hearts and minds of all . What will be the future of Egypt now that dictatorship has fallen and fled? Egyptians have demanded democracy, they have fought for change.
The events from the last few weeks carry lessons that can be learnt by other nation-states around the world. There are serious implications for some political leaders who believe the tyranny of their rule will continue forever. Oppressed masses need to be inspired by the events in Egypt and recognize that together much can be achieved.
Political change cannot come from the feeble voice(s) of one, two or five lone individuals. There needs to be an awakening where hundreds and thousands of people can unite around a common issue like elected dictatorship for example and work together to bring about change. Those who suffer under regimes that exercise blatant, brutal power to intimidate, silence and punish citizens who dare to criticize the corrupt and incompetence governance under which they struggle must be inspired by the events of Egypt.
After winter must come spring. The wintry days of dictatorship are over for Egyptians. As the spring of democracy blossoms, Egyptians will be living the change they fought desperately for with a unity never seen before.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Egyptian dictatorship is quickly expiring

The people of Egypt are demonstrating that dictatorship has an expiry date. Their refusal to let up in their protests against the three decade dictatorial rule of President Hosni Mubarak is a sign that Egyptian society has had enough of his repressive rule. While the world watches the growing power of the Egyptian people that has taken to the streets of this past week, the sobering actions of the Egyptian Army is what is most stunning.
The huge demonstration which took place on Tuesday that saw several hundred thousand people taking to the street came on the heels of a crucial statement released by the army in which it vowed not to use force against the protesters. "The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people," read the statement. It even went further by calling the protesters’ demands legitimate.  "Your armed forces, which are aware of the legitimacy of your demands, are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirm that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."
The army statement also warned people not to resort to acts of sabotage that violate security and destroy public and private property. The statement seemed to suggest it would be playing a role akin to the police. It said that it would not allow outlaws to loot, attack and "terrorize citizens".
It is heartening to see that the Egyptian army taking a firm stance against any form of political interference in the execution of its duties. Too many times in situations like these the coercive arm of the state is used by governments to stifle freedom of expression.
No one is being arrested on trumped up charges and being harassed unnecessarily because they choose to protest for political change. Very strong language is being used and yet no one is being arrested and thrown in jail for treason.
The Egyptian people are demanding change! And the delicate international political/diplomatic position in which Egypt finds itself with the West has most Western leaders hoping for a peaceful end to the Mubarak era. The US is threading very carefully on the matter.
Guyanese need to take note of how people in repressive societies collectively rise in unity for change. Muslims and Christians are side by side shouting for political change in Egypt. Tribes are uniting and calling for change. As one Egyptian analyst said on Sky News, “not even football has brought this kind of unity among Egyptians”.
The world is watching closely to see how this all ends. But one thing is sure: the Egyptian people are resolute in their demands for Mr. Mubarak to demit office immediately.
Democracy is in demand. According to the great Mahatma Ghandi, “people must be the change they wish to see in their world”.