I kindly request space on propaganda press to make the following clarification, regarding a matter of grave importance.When in our midst we harbour persons of malicious spirits bent more on destroying public trust and goodwill, we must engage in order to restore in the public eye a sense of decency, sensibleness and good order.
Our nation can only move forward when we learn to build trust, develop goodwill and engage in sensible cooperation among ourselves, first as Guyanese citizens, then as leaders of a fast developing society.
It therefore behooves me to respond, with great sadness of heart, to the irrational, malicious, divisive, distrustful, ill-will and nonsensical ranting of your associate Mr Ruel Johnson, who insists on writing delusional letters to the media against my person.
The man has become my lone critic, his voice ringing loud with malicious discontent against my work. I cannot recall any incident where I would have occasioned such hatred in this man’s heart, but I must engage to let the public know of his delusional diatribes. I hereby publicly respond to his concerns out of respect for him as winner of the Guyana Prize for Literature, and for his talents as a national man of literature.
But his senseless, personal attacks upon my person, my office as Minister of Culture, and the Caribbean Press, demonstrate his misplaced sense of social justice.
One of Johnson’s blatant and disgusting rantings state that he “…can personally attest to the fact that neither the Minister nor his government, has absolutely any interest in working with willing stakeholders towards the development of the literary arts in Guyana.” This is what he wrote in one of his misdirected letters to the press.
That statement reeks of malicious hatred and wicked intentions on behalf of Mr Johnson, as many international “stakeholders … of the literary arts in Guyana” would attest to my cooperation, willingness to work with them, and openness to their sound, workable ideas.
Some of these people volunteered to serve on the Advisory Editorial Board of the Caribbean Press. Stakeholders who cooperate with myself on the literacy and art scene include:
• Mr Al Creighton, Guyana’s Representative to the Inter-Guiana Cultural Festival. A section of the festival dealt with literary arts.
• Petamber Persaud, who worked on the Carifesta X Anthology. This Anthology was compiled by Mr Persaud and published during Carifesta X. Copies were distributed free of charge to persons during and after Carifesta X.
• My Ministry secured the wide participation of the literary and arts community in Guyana’s involvement in Carifesta X1, thus:
o Carifesta XI: Guyana sent 171 persons. The National Contingent was made up of 61 persons and others who went privately, and had to be accredited, as part of the National Contingent. The 110 persons were represented as follows:
• 17 – National School of Theatre Arts
• 1 – designer – Sonia Noel
• 6 – National Steel Orch.
• 2 – singers – Whaul Sisters
• 14 – Culinary Arts – Carnegie
• 20 – Craft Personnel – Main Street Craft Guyana and Arts and Craft Association
• 1 – Literary Arts – Ruel Johnson
• 30 – Guyana Deaf Association
• 2 – Film – New York based
• 9 – The Colin Klauky Amerindian Group
• 8 – Media Personnel
From the official Carifesta XI delegation the following persons participated in the literary section of the festival:
• Al Creighton (Head of Delegation)
• Karen Roberts-Luke
• Liza Hope
• Michael Khan
• Grace Chapman
These are all outstanding stakeholders of the literacy and arts community of Guyana. Their tremendous contribution and willing cooperation with my Ministry in participating and leading literary and art events belie Johnson’s irrational rant.
In terms of the Caribbean Press, an entity that is still in its setting up phase, currently there is a voluntary Editorial Advisory Board, with participation depending on the specific book project. Persons with the relevant subject expertise have been co-opted; Professor David Dabydeen has coordinated these efforts.
Some of the persons who have assisted include: Sister Noel Menezes, Dr Janette Bulkan, Ameena Gafoor, Professor Trevor Burnard, Professor James Walvin, Professor Clem Seecharan, Dr. Chris Campbell, Dr. Letizia Gramaglia, Dr. Lynne Macedo, Professor Peter Nazareth, Dr. Mariam Pirbhai, Dr. Dimitar Angelov, Dr. Harold Leusmann, Dr. Brinsley Samaroo, Dr. Amar Wahab, Dr Gemma Robinson, Dr. Lucy Evans, Dr. Anne- Marie Lee Loy, Dr. Mark Tumbridge and Dr. Michael Niblett to name a few.
Again, these are all stalwarts of the literary scene, who have willingly worked along with my Ministry to get work done, contrary to Johnson’s wild and wicked tantrums in the national media.
It seems as if Johnson insists on seeing delusional shadows, as he has repeatedly maligned my name and good character in letters to the national media. Many of these I ignored as just the juvenile rants of a delusional person, but, upon advice from embarrassed associates and family members, I opted to send Johnson a legal letter of warning to desist from his personal attacks and vengeful anger vented towards my person, and my public service.
In fact, the Stabroek News published an apology to myself after I pointed out Johnson’s delusional accusations.
His rants are self-evidently those of a determined hater, as The Caribbean Press has published more than 60 works since its launch in 2009.
Johnson’s reference to Parliament scrutinizing the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport is nothing short of wicked and vile. Every Ministry in Government is accountable to Parliament.
The affairs of the Caribbean Press are fully transparent and open, and have been dealt with in the National Assembly with satisfactory results. [false]
Two Members of Parliament were particularly interested in the Caribbean Press, following vocal criticism of the Press by Johnson. One of them had sent a detailed list of questions, these were answered in a comprehensive manner in Parliament, [falso] and he was satisfied that all is well with the Press.
No Minister is answerable to Johnson. Instead we are answerable to Parliament, and there we are open, transparent and do our job with efficiency and professionalism, always open to the Guyanese nation in our affairs before the House.
Most of Johnson’s angry tirade seems self-absorbed, pointing out ad infinitum that he feels personally slighted by the Ministry of Culture.
He may want to recognise a singular fact of human nature: no leader in any society would be subjected to a personality that is unpleasant, unworkable and insists on juvenile rants and angry outbursts in self-righteous indignation. As Minister, I cannot spend all my time babysitting a juvenile literary figure who thinks the world revolves around his contributions. Many others with saner temperaments and workable spirits and open minds are available for the work that we must engage in.
I refuse to engage Johnson in his other various accusations and rants, and would suggest that he rest assured that everything I set out to do regarding the Press will be done. As to issues he raised about the University of Guyana, I kindly point him to that institution, as the Minister of Culture is not an overseer of that entity.
I note Johnson’s mention and his boast of his European engagements on Guyanese literature, and I wish him well, on behalf of the Ministry and Government. As much as I cannot, and refuse to, indulge his juvenile crassness, I am honoured that our nation’s literary merits are receiving such acclaim from him.
DR FRANK ANTHONY
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport