A guest column written by Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Nigel Westmaas was published Dec. 19 in the Stabroeck News (Georgetown, Guyana). “Knowing Our Past: Current demonstrations and histories of public protest in Guyana” appeared in the paper’s weekly “In the Diaspora” column and focused on the reaction of state media, pundits and government spokespersons to the protests that followed Guyana’s recent elections.
Westmaas included an overview of a history of protests in Guyana – “from mini marches to full scale riots centered on class and labour issues” and put the current demonstrations into historical perspective saying that “demonstrations are not strange or atypical in Guyana or anywhere else.”
He said that “stark historical and contemporary fact is that people of all races have at one point in time or other found the need to express their anger and frustration on the streets. This usually occurs when concerns are ignored, arrogantly dismissed, repressed or forgotten.” He added, “It is high time that the record represent history and by extension contemporary events completely so that the fight for basic human needs are not so easily dismissed or labeled as ‘extremist’ or ‘unnecessary.’”