I know nothing of mobs. I know nothing of clashes between police and civilians. I know nothing of burning cars. I know nothing of Molotov Cocktails being thrown at homes. I know nothing of running while rubber pellets were being fired at an angry crowd. I know nothing of being caught between police and angry civilians.
The above would have been my sentiments a mere 24 hours ago, but after May 11, 2015, I am forced to admit that I have experienced all of the above. I have to admit that it scared the shit out of me. I have to say I am disappointed in the radical nature of my Guyanese brethren. I have to ask for peace to reign.
(May 11) Earlier in the day, three other colleagues and I responded to a call that there was a disturbance in C Field Sophia. We arrived there and saw scores of angry residents attempting to surge a PPP/C command center.
The residents were accusing one – Pastor Narine Khublall of conducting an “illegal poll” at the centre and were demanding that “Pastor Khuball” hand over some three ballot boxes that he had in his possession. Something that never happened. One will never know what became of those ballot boxes.
Their accusations seem a bit farfetched but I pondered what could stir such anger in the people, then I was told by a very reliable source that the man indeed was having persons at his home to in the guise of it being a polling station.
Several things were wrong with the accusation; first there was sign that blatantly said “PPP/C Command Centre.” Secondly there was a Vote PPP/C sign erected outside of the premises and perhaps most importantly, there was no sign to indicate that the church/home was being used as a polling station. Strange indeed.
Nevertheless, attempts were made to quell the crowd and the responded in kind; when we left we had collectively concluded that major disaster had been averted. We were so wrong. The disaster was yet to come.
At about 20:00hrs I was in the office preparing to watch the latest episode of Originals when my phone began to go off uncontrollably. It was my cousin that resides in Sophia. She had sent me six voice notes in succession, in a terribly shaken voice to explain that persons were torching Khublall’s vehicle.
A quick call to the fire service confirmed the reports and in a short time I was en-route to the scene.
Before I knew it, I was slam dunk in the middle of civilians armed with rocks and pieces of wood that seemed ready to approach the police. The unrests in Baltimore and Ferguson flashed before my eyes and I could not believe that this was happening and moreso, I was caught in it.
I quickly sprinted across the road and jumped a drain and met with another media colleague – I thought I was scared, well she was scared shitless.
We made our way to the epicentre of the unrest and no sooner had we arrived that we were forced to take shelter in a nearby yard.
When we attempted to make an exit another vehicle in front of the yard was lit and the fire spread quickly. This was number two of the vehicles being torched and a house on a dam along with some stables.
We were pinned down and the occasional explosions did nothing to help our cause as we constantly ran to the back of the yard to seek shelter from flying debris.
As news spread and other media operatives arrived I joined them on the streets as we took photos and video shots while civilians started fires in other vehicles in their defensive rage.
My driver was at the vehicle, he had refused to descend into the chaos leaving me to fend for myself, I didn’t mind at first but later was remorseful that he wasn’t present to offer advice on how to proceed.
The men upturned a silver grey Prado SUV while the police watched. Yes the police watched and did nothing. I rather suspect the police were afraid of intervening and the situation escalating to a point of no return – after all these people were LIVID, they felt they were cheated.
Hours later and the chaos showed no sign of letting up, that is until uniformed platoon of officers from the Guyana Defence Force arrived accompanied by a reinforcement of a very large batch of police officers.
I averaged something around 120 members of the joint services on the ground in Sophia.
The GDF ranks had arrived to sounds of cheers and applause hence it was no surprise that the chaos subsided and the firing stopped.
Despite the cessation the residents still lingered at the limits of the cordoned off area…but all in all, they simmered down and I left the scene smelling like burnt rubble.
But during my horribly unpleasant couple of hours in the area that I grew up in I was shocked with the amount of racial slurs that were indiscriminately thrown about the place? I was perturbed to say the least. I mean Sophia people don’t really give a crap about race. The elections and politicians really get to these people, damn.
It is sad that the man’s property was destroyed but I dare say all of this could have been avoided had the army arrived earlier.
But in the first instance it should not have happened. So to my brethren and sistren and cha cha and what’s not – This country is ours, regardless of our race we all toiled hard and long for it.
Race should not affect your judgement, you should not hate me because of the melanin in my skin and I shouldn’t hate you for your lack thereof.
As we await these results, I can’t help but plead that peace reins in my land, in your land, in our land.
Ask yourselves? What have we to gain from racism?
What happened in Sophia should not have happened PERIOD.