The Indian/African socializing I photographed at GDF weddings and friendships of both races I know, don't seems to indicate a racial problem in the GDF.
In your opinion, what seems to restrict more Indians from joining the GDF ?
PPP propaganda that generated fear of the black man and prevents any socializing by stigmatizing Afros as murderers and thieves. Last year I attended a family picnic in Camp Ayangana and invited some relatives. One of my guests, after a little socializing, pulled me aside and expressed surprise. I asked at what. He said, "you know everybody so respectful." I asked what he meant. He said, "you know... black people." I told him, "you and your family need to come down from the verandah and socialize with your country people." Fortunately, I didn't have to join the army to understand the value of a person has nothing to do with race because my father, a big strong coolie man, never displayed racial sentiments.
Thanks. I had a similar experience in Guyana, that was resolved in scouting. My mother attended primary school with Cheddi and my grandfather was a close friend of his father at Port Mourant. The PPP and Indians were our life. My family did not directly displayed any racial tendencies, but their political leaders did by fear, for us to vote for an Indian party.
I lived at Old Albion that was mostly an Indian village and I don't remember the split between Cheddi and Burnham. But I can remember the dislike for Africans as I was growing up, mainly at Port Mourant, with relatives.
This dislike was intensified when an Indian woman had a baby for an African man. There was fighting with cutlasses and axe handles on the streets.
At about 1962, I was like your relatives. I did not socialize with Africans, or had any close African friends.
But during this time, I was one of the leaders of Albion scout troop and attended many scouter's training camps at Camp Jubilee near the airport. At first it was terrible uncomfortable being with Africans in the same troop and sleeping in the same tent. But after a while I discovered they were not different from my friends at Albion. They get hurt, played practical jokes and laughed at silly things, just like my Albion friends did. They also had Moms and Dads, sisters and brothers, aunties and uncles, just like me.
Scout trainers like Fr. Bernard Darke and Gomes mixed the races in each patrol and we had to do everything together for a week, including competing with other patrols.
This was a huge breakthrough for me regarding knowing Africans in Guyana. Many of these guys remained close friends for decades.
This experience has allowed us to fund development projects in Uganda and Tanzania, as well as in Guyana. Where we have many African and Indian friends.
I believe Guyana racial disharmony started when the two main political parties were initiated. Even today, they continue to play one race against the other, for political gain. Without thinking of the long range consequences, that might become worse for future generations.