Never should a Toshaos conference be canceled without respectful consultation with all Toshaos


Dear Editor,

The exercise of power must be tempered with a deep respect and understanding for those over whom power is exercised or what is produced is the kind of infamous and authoritative decision that recently occurred in the cancellation of a conference of Toshaos.

To begin to understand the offense one must understand the reach and influence of the Toshoa as administrative personnel who have powers of political and social representation often equal to those of a minister in organizing the affairs of leadership and government of the nine distinct First Nations tribes of Guyana. . These tribes (Arawak, Warau, Carib, Akawaio, Patamona, Arekuna, Macushi, Wapishana, Waiwai) are distinguished by their own languages, tribal decorations, crafts, weavings of hammocks, geographical locations. They will share certain practices, but the tribes differ and they know what their differences are.

The Toshaos represent a resourceful and ancient people who have been overlooked and often ignored and treated with little respect by people who have taken on the aura of government and don’t know the inch of their elbow on how to get the job done to create and achieve development. results. These elected/appointed government officials may be fanciful in their service or authoritarian and may operate a system of patronage where disapproval of what the authorities do is seen as merely inconvenient. The value of the critical process is not applauded.

Nevertheless, a setback is often a wonderful opportunity to bring about change and the ball is in the Toshaos court who must act immediately to define, for those who do not know, the importance of their role in achieving the inclusiveness in the new and prosperous Guyana whose lands were once the walking and hunting grounds of the tribes.

As a starting point, I suggest that the Department of Native American Affairs commission an extensively researched and illustrated volume that names and describes the nine tribes, all compiled in a massive work of celebration of the ancient and transformative presence of the First Nations of Guyana. The Toshaos must all be listed and described. The identity of the victim must be rejected if and where it exists. First Nations do not have to beg for recognition; their presence has been from the beginning. An administrative salary must be paid to Toshaos who must have a financial measure of their value as representatives. The research work should show all this.

I was honored to know Stephen Campbell. He wasn’t wearing a victim’s coat. He was a man, sure of himself and of his ability to represent. He did that. This is why I reject the watchwords of the Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples because they sound bad: “Survival, Land, Dignity”. They carried the victim’s aura. Is this organization still functional?

Not only must the Minister understand what leadership is, but she must consider the quality of those being led. How are the followers? Never should a Toshaos conference be canceled without respectful consultation with all Toshaos and this must be formally acknowledged. If this does not happen, the message is sent that the tribes are inferior, can be ruled and have no ideas. Those with a rank like this might work better in another position.

Toshaos need to start registering the scope of their work in participatory government. The minister needs to learn about servant leadership. The authoritarian style of leadership is offensive and old-fashioned. If a lot of money is at stake, the resources will be there to achieve a lot of uplifting and consistent things in government. This government inherited an old wrong that must be righted now. There are ways to do all of this, if the necessary research and consultation takes place, if the tribes speak up.

More Mervyn Williams, please.

So I say!

Yours faithfully,

Gabriella Rodriguez


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