jubilee +1- Guyana 2017

Sometimes I decide to go to things. Sometimes I get to thinking I should engage/participate more in the larger society out there. So I leave my hammock and my yard of growing things, and- risking my life in the minibuses- I go. Sometimes I’m glad, pleasantly surprised, meet cool people, feel stimulated. This being Independence eve and all, I made the effort. The event description mentioned young people and an environmental organization- that’s why I went; Earth and the future is in peril- I wanted to hear what young people thought and were doing about that. But it turns out that was just the first 15 minutes; the rest of the time was devoted to the Constitution and blah blah blah. There weren’t that many people there- there were competing events- the flag raising, something about oil and gas- undoubtedly more people were at those events. So i forced myself to stay. It was hard for me to sit there though. I twitched my fingers and toes, slumped then pulled myself back up, closed my eyes, rested my head in my hands, just fidgeted. All I kept thinking while man after man droned on about the Constitution and politricks was the little girl I had spent the previous hours of the afternoon with. She was 7 going on 8, in Grade 2, and she couldn’t write a proper sentence. In fact, she was at the ‘cat, bat, rat, hat’ stage of reading/writing. At 7 going on 8. She has never not been in school. It’s public school tho, not private; she’s not from a wealthy family. They have had their share of troubles actually, but she hasn’t been the one directly affected. Physically- as far as the eye can see- she’s fine, healthy. But the learning deficits are unmistakable. 20170525_165731

She’s never been assessed though- where does one even go to get that done in Guyana, another colleague/friend and I pondered the other day? I thought of one person who might know; after the holiday we’ll reach out and see (Karen H- is you I thinking of). 51 years of independence. 7 yr olds who can’t read. She’s not alone- when I was volunteering at the Drop In Center- before it burned down killing Joshua and Antonio George- I found many children who were going to school every day, who had notebooks full of notes, but who struggled to read and write basic sentences in English <Charlene, you have to give me tips on how to assess Creolese fluency in writing>. I stopped volunteering after the fire- there wasn’t any suitable place for that at the new location where the surviving children were re-located to, I was told when I visited there. Besides, they reported, most of the children had been sent back to their families. I see them around regularly actually- usually it’s they who “Miss” me. I saw one of the boys last Friday, unloading thrushes of water coconuts from the back of a pickup truck at my weekly neighborhood market. It was around 11am, time when he should have been in school. But instead, he was child laboring. When I asked if he was going to school, he dropped his eyes and lied. “Yes Miss. I just didn’t go today.” I stood there for a few minutes, just watching him silently. When the backs of the adult men directing the operation were turned, I asked him softly if they were paying him. He nodded. These children are everywhere- you don’t have to know or look hard to see them; they are everywhere; clearly visible every day. They’re at the intersections and road corners selling water, soda, and beer. They’re pushing bales of stuff in the market and climbing into storage bonds. They’re running errands for big people and engaging in all kinds of hustles. The girls are a bit more invisible- unless you’re in the bush or a bottomhouse bar. 51 years of independence. And these men are talking about the readability of the Constitution and all the beautiful things it promises the Guyanese people. The environmental organization man talks about how happy he is to have found a job he likes and the awesomeness of nature. About the pristineness of Guyana’s environment and the difficulty getting coastlanders to appreciate it. The young woman on the panel- the only one, someone i know, who blew a kiss to me earlier- talks about love. Love of country and the awesomeness of nature. The other young man talks about his love of the law, and youth coupling with wisdom. He is careful, too careful, already lawyerly-careful, to not blame anyone (the government) for anything. 20170525_185101The veteran trade unionist’s 15 minutes feels like an hour and at the end of it I’m completely discombobulated.  I want to scream. I want to cry. I leave when another comrade of sorts asks about the lack of a strong civil society response to the abuses of power. My head feels like it’s going to explode; I bolt outside- if it does, I want to at least get one last glimpse of the stars before oblivion. Instead I’m greeted by the sight of overflowing garbage bins and piles of garbage strewn about the pathway. On the other side, inside the GuyOil compound, nice Jamaican music plays and people dance, enjoying the pre-Independence. 20170525_191846

I walk to the National Library, to check on the banner I put up there day before yesterday. It says LGBT and Guyanese on the same line and it was a minor dream of mine to get a banner like this in this position. LGBT event at Natl Library- signThis being Guyana though, anything could have happened to it. So I’m going to check on it. I have some more wire in my bag to secure it more if necessary. I hear a sound behind me and turn; it’s just a dog. Still, I’m on the alert. I am a woman, walking alone. I have been mugged before and have no desire for a repeat. Another block and another sound, this one human. Turning I see a man in slippers, one of the numerous street dwellers of Georgetown. Shit. I pick up my pace and search the wire out of my bag, wrapping it around my fist. I could poke him with it if necessary, or strangle him maybe? Yes, these are the things women walking alone on darkened streets think.  Under a streetlight I see that he is of indigenous heritage. It’s funny- I had been thinking, in the event earlier, when the environment organization people were talking, about how I would have liked  to see/hear an indigenous person’s perspective. So now the universe had sent me someone. Real funny. I cross the street, looking back still. I know he sees me looking at him, judging him a threat. I feel like shit but this is life. Fucked up shit. As we near the library, he greets me. “Exercising huh?” he says inanely. I just grunt. My head still feels like it’s going to explode.

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Love makes a family

akolathompsondotcom

Last night, I gave a speech at an event hosted by the European Union and Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination in observance of IDAHOT. Due to my clumsiness, I did not finish my speech and I was asked to post it up in its entirety. So here it is, with a few edits and additions.

As a child, it seemed like everything had definitions. Not only definitions, but stringent ones; ones that you could not necessarily change because it did not seem to apply to you. Just like how I learnt that us humans are basically made up of stardust and I learnt how to differentiate between water type and grass type Pokemons, I also learnt that a family was made up of a man, a woman and their children. There were some slight deviations from this of course. We not only had the nuclear family, we also had the…

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FREE Dr Stella Nyanzi- sign & share Support/Solidarity Statement #education4girls #fukrespectabilitypolitricks #downwiththepatriarchy

Sign Support and Solidarity Statement here: https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSdOqmpYkQi-2ghPiN…/viewform <The arrest of Dr. Stella Nyanzi in light of her campaign to provide sanitary pads to young students is an affront, to the fundamental right of all students to continuous education. The arrest seeks to shift focus from the urgent issue of getting sanitary pads to girls who need them so that their education is not disrupted, to respectability and the hurt egos of powerful political elites and people in power.>

More here: https://qz.com/956379/uganda-has-thrown-an-academic-in-jail-over-a-buttocks-insult-to-president-museveni/

Tails live operating system – Privacy for anyone anywhere

useful info

Guyana Anti-Corruption Network

Tails is a live operating system that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card.
It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to:
use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship;

all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network;

leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly;

use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.

Learn more about Tails.

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Diary of a mothering worker. April 12, 2017.

grrlscene

Post 243.

Once upon a time, a goddess walked along a bare road. She gazed ahead, wondering where the road led. Seeing its divergent paths, she reflected on which she would take and what would result from those unplanned directions. With each step, she watched the sun also walk overhead, its light streaming in changing yellow shades.

At the first fork in the road, the goddess paused and looked in every direction. Everywhere was bare. She decided to follow the sun. She chose one of the paths and, feeling confident, walked on. As soon as she stepped on this side, bright yellow flowers sprang up at the fork in the road and continued to blossom alongside every step she made. The goddess felt buoyant that her decision produced such light and reassuring beauty. She picked one of the yellow flowers and, twirling it in her fingers, kept walking.

She reached…

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Diary of a mothering worker. April 6, 2017.

YES. necropolitics is NOT development

grrlscene

Post 242.

When you are in a gathering with women leaders from Akawaio, Garifuna, Kalinago, Lokono Arawak, Machushi, Maho, Mopan Maya, Q’eqchi Maya, Wapichan and Warrau First Peoples, it’s best to simply listen.

These women, some of them among the few women chiefs in the region’s Indigenous People’s communities, represent those who have belonged to the land and who the land has belonged to for many thousands of years. Most striking in their stories is their struggle against lack of recognition of such belonging.

Listen to women like Faye Fredericks, who is Wapichan and from what is now known as Guyana, and who has been passionately fighting mining and logging’s shocking destruction of the very forest her ancestors and community have drawn their sustenance and cosmologies from as long as they remember.

Next time you think approvingly of Guyana’s economic model, ask yourself how we can so ignore her evidence…

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