Weeks after acting Chief Justice Roxane George ruled against an application to quash Government’s move to close the East Demerara and Rose Hall Estates, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) are moving to challenge the ruling in the Appeal Court.GAWU President Komal ChandThis was confirmed by GAWU President Komal Chand, who told Guyana Times on Tuesday that the unions were of the view that the acting Chief Justice “erred” in denying the application.This contention, according to Chand, will have to be heard in the Appeal Court at a date to be determined. However, the unions will first tender submissions for the court’s consideration before the matter can proceed. The original injunction in the High Court had noted that not enough consultations were held by Government with the affected parties.The decision to challenge the acting Chief Justice’s decision comes less than two weeks after workers of the Rose Hall Estate in East Canje, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) were told of Government’s plans to put off that entity’s closure until next year. This estate was scheduled to be closed on December 31, 2017. However, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, had announced that the Special Purpose Unit (SPU), which was established under the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to manage the privatisation/divestment process of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was yet to determine the way forward for Rose Hall Estate.It was in May 2017 that Government announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo. These decisions were, however, met with union and community -sanctioned protests, which saw many workers and affected residents taking to the streets to highlight the negative impact the closures would have on workers and the economy as a whole.In October, GuySuCo had disclosed plans to retrench some 2500 workers by the end of this year. However, GAWU reiterated that the downsizing and subsequent closure of sugar estates would lead to the loss of more than 15,000 jobs and the potential threat of poverty for between 50,000 and 100,000 people. A statement from Head of the Special Purpose Unit, Colvin Heath-London last month detailed that an international accounting firm would be recruited to evaluate GuySuCo’s assets for privatisation and divestment. Selected tenders were invited from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and KPMG to provide the service. The selected firm would be conducting the valuation of all assets under the control of GuySuCo, in addition to other advisory and financial services. The preparation of a prospectus is expected to be completed by the end of January 2018.The Private Sector, civil society and other interest groups have long decried the closures of estates, with many saying that the country’s overall economy and the economies of villages would be impacted as a whole. The social strain on families was also noted as a major possible setback as in many instances, multiple members of the same household, including some husbands and wives, are employed within the sugar industry. The Wales Estate was closed in December 2016.
Melissa JavanMany female rappers are making a name for themselves in the male dominated hip hop industry. In celebration of Heritage Month, journalist Melissa Javan spoke to two female artists. Ms Supa and Yugen Blakrok shared their journeys as rappers in a question and answer session.Growing up Ms Supa listened to rappers like Foxy Brown, who made her realise that women can be emcees too. (Image supplied)Where did you grew up?Yugen Blakrok: I grew up in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape.Ms Supa: I hail from Benoni.How long have you been in the hip hop industry?Yugen Blakrok: I started rapping in the early 2000s.Ms Supa: I started rapping in 1996. I only actively pursued it from 2003, after I moved to Pretoria.What made you decide to become a rapper [emcee]?Yugen Blakrok: The love for poetry and language. Also, I had two left feet and I realised I’d never make it break-dancing.Ms Supa: I had always loved rap music. I did not even consider it a possibility that females could do it. I had an ‘aha moment’ when I heard a song by Foxy Brown called Get You Home on radio. My first thought then was: “Oh, girls can do it too.”Insert music video of Yugen Blakrok.What is your culture, and how do you express or showcase it within your craft?Yugen Blakrok: I’m Xhosa. My culture and heritage is embedded in the lyrics. The influence of where I was born, the traditions I’ve learnt and the rhythm in my native tongue permeates everything I do, in and out of the creative spectrum.Ms Supa: I am a Zulu girl. My punchlines and metaphors are mostly South African. I talk about things that a South African would understand.Insert music video of Ms Supa.Do you, as a woman in the hip hop industry, feel equal to the men?Yugen Blakrok: When it comes to skills, yes I do.Ms Supa: I think women throughout history have always had a hard time getting recognition for a job well done or being taken seriously. This happens in corporate, in the home and definitely in the hip hop industry. Because the founders of hip hop were male, so women had to work twice as hard to prove they are just as good. We are not allowed to drop the ball. So we are equal in skill, but the market is yet to see us in the same light.Do you get the question “what’s it like being a woman emcee” a lot?Yugen Blakrok: Now, definitely not as much as I used to.Ms Supa: Yes – a lot, especially during Women’s Month.How do you feel about that question?Yugen Blakrok: I find it hard to engage with and a bit dull. There are far more interesting questions one could ask.Ms Supa: I have been in the industry for over a decade. So for me that question gets tired because it shows the lack of research an interviewer did on you before an interview. There are so many other facets of my music and being that don’t get explored and shown to the public that they also have the view that female rappers are still feeling marginalised.I would also love to have an interview with AKA for example and ask him ‘What is it like being a male rapper’ and see if he humours me with a solid answer.The question lacks any depth or respect for the artist.Yugen Blakrok says her hip hop influences include Wu-Tang Clan, The Fugees, Lauren Hill, Nas and Organized Konfushion. (Image supplied)What keeps you motivated or inspired?Yugen Blakrok: My people at Iapetus Records always push me to do more. I’m inspired by my sisters, my friends and opportunities that show themselves right when they’re needed. It’s not always easy staying motivated so I often go out of my way to find things that will create that spark. Good friendships are the best.Ms Supa: Music and my family.What is your most memorable moment as an emcee?Yugen Blakrok: I have a few – rapping for Chuck D when Public Enemy were in South Africa, opening for Sage Francis, and playing at Hip Hop Kemp this year.Ms Supa: It definitely has to be [that I was the first woman emcee on] hip hop magazine Hype’s cover. It really set the tone and made my career memorable to others. I had the pleasure of featuring on HHP’s Dumela album on a song called Mmago Rrago. I have also shared the stage and songs with some great artists in South Africa such as Amu, Ramesh, Reason, Black Lez and many others.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using SouthAfrica.info material