Closing the Book

The book I am writing on Jonestown and Guyana is dragging to a close. I say “dragging,” because I had hoped to have it read by this anniversary. Several things caused me to put it aside for almost a year, perhaps more. I had a few interviews or contributions from Guyanese on the periphery. One writes in his own name and handed me his unpublished article. He is Hindu in origin and had taken relatives to the healing service. This agrees with my theory that the Kabaka wanted to use healing as a launching pad to catch people of all races. Some can’t be named still. I read more into an older interview taken in 2006.

I have been writing several other things.

I have made much use of this website and will fully acknowledge this. I really do not know how to write about the Rev. Jim Jones without his harangues. I have spoken with one Guyanese who was on good terms with him, whom I cannot name.

I have reviewed the role of African Americans in the commune.

I have set Jones side by side with Rabbi Washington of the House of Israel, another group of Americans living in Guyana at the same time as Jonestown.

Some of the mystery of tape Q 875 remains, but it was most likely not done at Jonestown. I rely on the style of Guyanese broadcasters then.

I have testimony, which I cannot source by name, that Jones had direct access to the GDF head.

I am now rearranging the order of the chapters, dropping some non-chapters, rounding some off. It will be a book of dimensions, not a chronological record, although the times discussed are stated. There are remarks and information on some of the interaction between Jonestown and the wider society, which I argue could have “saved” it.

I have found a natural place for the Pearl Willis story of a woman who escaped from segregation and had her body returned to that condition, giving rise to a dignity movement.

I am drawing the conclusion that in establishing Hope Estate and other compulsory labour sites in return for short rations of staple foods, Guyana’s regime was implementing what it understood about Jonestown and in fact the non-capitalist economies of Eastern Europe.

Finally I show how strange and uninspired socialist governance contributed to the magnitude of the catastrophe of November 18, 1978.

(Eusi Kwayana is a Guyanese national who was a key figure in his country’s struggle for independence from Great Britain during the 1950s and 1960s. His review of Laura Johnston Kohl’s book, Jonestown Survivor, appears here.)