OPEN LETTER TO THE PUBLIC from “The Seawall”
Linda Rutherford The Chronicle October 1998
The North Atlantic Seaboard
October 4, 1998.
There comes a time in everyone's life when they've had about all they can take, and I woke up this morning and decided that I would no longer be silent; that from here on in, I would stand up, as is my democratic right, and speak out against the things that bother me.
Truth to tell, I don't mind the little secret trysts; nor the patter of tiny feet; nor the political graffiti; nor the endless stream of advertisement which has earned me the enviable reputation of being the world's longest billboard; nor, for that matter, the urgent pounding of tennis shoes in the tireless quest for physical fitness.
What I do take exception to, however, is the decadence; the sacrilege; the wanton degradation of my immediate environs.
As I write, I look around at the rubble, born of a mindless compulsion to litter, and I ask myself, are we, as a nation, serious about eco-tourism? Are we ready for it? Are we prepared for the responsibility that goes with the turf?
Granted we're not in the blue-water-white-sand league, but you've got to admit there's a certain something about looking out across the Atlantic of an evening, watching the ships come in, or inhaling the fresh, tangy air that comes with the onset of dark.
It is, perhaps, this same ethereal quality that prompted Rupert Roopnaraine as early as 1990, even before the politicians began to see the advantages of eco-tourism, to encourage a five-man Dutch Television crew to come down here for three weeks to do a documentary on me.
Well, not quite on me, but more the way I influence the various aspects of cultural and social life of the almost three-quarters of the population living along the 270 miles of our country's coastland.
I must admit that I quite liked the story-line the director, Ray Kril adopted, reliving my past through the eyes of an old griot, played to the hilt by veteran local dramatist and poet, Marc Matthews.
Though it was the last we in Guyana ever heard of that particular documentary, I have been given to understand that it was quite a success in the 14 European countries for which it was intended.
As I look back in time, I reminisce with nostalgia those good old days - the pomp and ceremony of the Sunday afternoon concerts; the ladies in broad-brimmed, crinoline hats and stays (corsets), their dresses made of either cambric, tarlatan, organdy or some such fabric. The men, not to be outdone, were never without their waistcoat, necktie and boots, and certainly not without their `inexpressibles' (whatever that was!) and top-hat.
Gloves were optional, among both men and women, and even the children, but it never ceased to amuse me the air of dignity the ladies managed to effect with their mincing gait and ivory fans, in spite of the surfeit of fresh air.
But to return to the subject of littering and Guyana's prospects at becoming an eco-destination, let's take a closer look at plastics, which make up the bulk of garbage in my immediate surroundings, and then you will understand my concern.
The one thing plastics is not - in spite of being touted as one of the modern-day wonders - is biodegradable; that is, unlike paper, it does not easily decompose. This means plastics can last forever and by the same token, become an eyesore. It would serve you well to remember this every time you even think about dumping a bag or bottle, or some such other container made of plastic.
I would also like to issue a call to the business community whose forte is fast or snack foods - like KFC, Demico House, Chicken House, Pizza Hut, Chinelle's, to name just a few - to take a more pro-active role in ensuring that I stay clean. It would be nice, too, if you can place some garbage bins, with the company's logo, at strategic points. Logos not only lend charm but are also good advertising.
But, come to think of it, who is really responsible for my welfare? The last I heard was that the onus was split between the National Parks Commission, the City Council and now, the Tourism Association of Guyana.
And the latest word on the grapevine is that the City is only obliged to clean that portion of me from Le Meridien Pegasus to Camp Street. Eh! Well! I am, indeed, in dire straits.
In parting, a word of advice. Eco-tourism is not just about making money; it's a way of life.
`nuff said, until I have another axe to grind.