Here's another view that most people haven't covered as regards Guyana.
I think that most would agree that the major tension between the two groups
plays out at the political level and not on the grassroots level. Politics
fosters the continuance of these "group views" because it is inherently
collectivist. Politics sees parliamentary voting blocks composed of
groups......it collects individuals into blocks of similar interest. The very
system of democracy perpetuates the friction that has existed since so long ago.
Benjamin Franklin once said that democracy was two wolves and a lamb voting
on what to eat for dinner.
Winston Churchill once said "Democracy is the worst form of government except
for all those others that have been tried."
Let's cut right to the bone here. Democracy is popularity. Populism is LESS
likely to abridge people's rights as often as a monarch or a dictator and will
generally unseat anyone who isn't popular.
I imagine that in a nation where everyone has a common heritage and race and
religion etc, The evils of democracy are less visible.
This melts away in a multi-ethnic system. If you can see a block of people
taking away your rights and they are of a different color from you .....it's
perceived differently. I don't know that there is any way to overcome this other
than power sharing, because only then would people realize that ALL the
politicians were abridging their rights......so they can be dissatisfied
with all of them. But power sharing would be undemocratic now wouldn't it? The
most popular candidate and/or party should have the most power shouldn't
Do you see the catch-22 situation here? Democracy is the "least worst" and
what is popular may sometimes be the least evil but the way it is done with
ethnically-based parties perpetuates feelings and social dynamics that
threaten peace and democracy.
What's the solution? I think it would go a long way for the individual to be
brought back into politics.
Democracy works best when it has much less power to abridge the rights of
individuals or give special treatment to one group of individuals over another.
Democracy can even be GREAT when there are codified RIGHTS which aren't
abridged by the government.
Government works best when is has less power in general.
Would someone mistrust the dominant ethnic group that had control of
government if government had little or no power to intervene in his life against
his own will?
The very essence of government that makes groups covet it and other groups
despise it is its *virtual monopoly on the use of coercive power* to enforce
popular laws, tax money and shape society through legislation.
If racial relations are better on the person-to-person societal level than on
a governmental level, find things that the government doesn't need to be doing
and let other consensual entities in society like charities and businesses take
over. If there is a demand for the particular service, then they will find a way
to get funding. If the market finds no use for the services, then maybe
government shouldn't be doing them in the first place.
For those who love and have more faith in government and its power to wield
coercive force on others, your faith in government may yield more efficient
government someday but in the meantime stop expecting racial harmony.
The path to prosperity in Guyana isn't more planning and combating poverty.
Government planning means sub planting the plans of a bureaucrat's over the
plans of an individual. Combating poverty just redistributes wealth..often from
one GROUP to another. It is, in my opinion, fallacious to expect people of
different races to choose to get along with each other via the coercive power of
The path to prosperity for Guyana is wealth creation (not poverty
alleviation) and individual rights. The most prosperous places have few
natural resources and many rights and freedoms! Hong Kong, Singapore, the Cayman
Islands and others were forced by scarcity to come up with other ways to create
wealth and they did so out of thin air (!) by codifying more rights and
exercising less government power to coerce and tax.
Have you ever thought that creating a free and prosperous Guyana meant less
government and less laws and less and less and less of most things that
government cooks up?
Less really is more. Free the individual.
-- J.C.Bollers, WGML, 21-Mar-2008
Like you, I have been following the horrific death of Sash Sawh and
I was touched by the Minister's wife question on: why (this had to happen)?
Why? Why are we in such a situation where crime, racism, corruption, and
hypocrisy reign supreme? Are we getting closer to the abyss? Why?
Over the past few hours (as I have done all my life), I have been looking
for answers... all over. I looked at the PNC, the PPP, the unions, the
Americans/CIA, global imperialism, our history...and I could not come up
with a definitive answer. And then it dawned upon me. I was searching the
wrong places. The reason for our situation is not the PPP. Not the PNC.
Not the drug lords. Not the Buxton "resistance." It's us. All of us.
We have for one reason or the other turned a blind eye on corruption,
maladministration, political terrorism, drugs, prostitution, and, racism.
Yes, racism. Our tribal politics have driven us to defend the
indefensible at times. And I plead guilty. We generally associate good and
bad with one's race. We see race in everything - common entrance results,
who gets scholarships, who makes up our cricket team, who dances at
Everything. We laugh at racial jokes. We ignore claims by Afro-Guyanese
that they are discriminated against, that they do not get construction
contracts, that they are denied jobs, that the system is stacked against
them... sometimes just because we belong to another race. We sweep evidence
under the rug that Indo-Guyanese are murdered for political reasons, that
the PPP is in government but not in power, we claim that Indo-Guyanese are
involved with drugs...sometimes just because we belong to another tribe.
And the claims and denials go on...and on, ad nauseam. We do not take
time to wear the shoes of those who are different. We see what we want to
see. We hear what we want to hear. Maybe, the game is over. Our future is at
stake. Sash Sawh's murder should not be the cause for self-reflection but
the reason for it.
I have said it before, and I will say it again - the root of Guyana's
problems is not racial politics. History dealt us a cruel blow in the 50s
and 60s as imperialism laid the groundwork for local war and the resulting
malaise. And then our economy just kept stuttering and dying, creating in
its wake an environment for discontent. But whilst our problems are not
caused by racism, it would be ostrich-like to deny that it has raised its
ugly face. No, not just raised its face. It laughs mockingly at us,
especially those who have fought all their lives to confront and defeat it
(if that is possible).
Tomorrow, Sash will be cremated, and I pray that his soul rest in peace.
As the fires on the pyre shoot to the skies, let us not allow them to
take away our dreams and hopes. Let it not foster more division because this
is what those who dealt us this beast want. It is their intent. Both Waddell
and Sawh, and many more along the way. Let us use his death to self-reflect
on our own weaknesses, fears and prejudices.
The police and army may go after the killers with haste. And they
should...with precision. But as they comb the backlands or wherever these
killers have sought refuge, let us realize that maybe, maybe, they are not
the only enemy. We are all guilty. And as we confront this reality, I hope
and pray we come to the realization that peace can only be secured if there
is justice ... for all.
Dr.Parbudyal Singh, WGML, April 24, 2006
I guess I
am one of those people who prefer to give credit where credit is due,
and in this case I think that Home Affairs Minister Teixeira was quite
within her right and quite sensible to suggest that Guyanese choose
wisely when it comes time to socialize with some people and support
their businesses. (See
article in Stabroek News)
a burgeoning drug-lord sub-culture where it appears all sorts of people
are getting rich overnight doing god-knows-what, -where and -to whom.
Guyanese are not stupid people ... they know what the source of this
newfound wealth is. One has to only read the newspapers to know that it
is drugs and illegal fuel.
are people who like to tout that they can "read between the lines" and
that they are not "stupidy bills" as the writer to Stabroek News points
out. If so then why does Lorri Alexander see the need to pen his
wordy and useless letter to the SN Editor when there are so many
other real issues he can write about when it comes to the present
right .... people should boycott the businesses and boycott the people
they believe are involved in shady business. If the people don't
actually know who to boycott, then they should boycott who they believe
are businesses tied to these shady characters. They can read between the
lines, they hear things. They know who the minister is referring to,
even if Alexander is in the dark. Over zealousness in this boycott is
not a sin as the letter seems to suggest (by extension).
of drugs is an effort by all -- not only the police, army and
parliamentarians. The common people must be involved. If they live in
fear when it comes to directly "ratting out" the people they suspect are
the bad seed amongst them, then they surely can quietly and
inconspicuously do their part to help wither this bad fruit right on the
vine. They can't just sit back and hope for a solution to this problem
to drop into their laps.
Wayne Moses, March 5, 2006
The recent atrocities in Agricola have convinced many that the Guyana
government has now lost the psychological advantage in its struggle against
armed bands roaming the country. During the relative lull after the Buxton
problems a couple of years ago many believed that the government had
regained control of Guyana, but that illusion was shattered a few days ago.
The Guyana Police cowered in fear as about 15 armed bandits terrorized
Aricola, a community less than 5 miles from the headquarters of both the
national police and army. This cowardly response will only serve to embolden
these armed bands further and there is little doubt that they will test
their new-found power soon by an even bigger display of terror.
At this time these bands are fighting each other over local control of
the drug trade, but it won't take them long to realize that they are now in
a position to seize the entire country - if they unite for that purpose.
FARC, the group in charge of Colombian drug production would probably
welcome the possibility of drug trading at the highest level since they lost
Panama and Noriega years ago.
On the other hand, US support is always complicated by internal US
politics, in which it is quite possible for the US government to act
contrary to what government departments say. No European country is likely
to come to Guyana's aid and only Brasil has any real interest in Guyana's
In other words, the Guyana government is on its own.
It has virtually no investigative capability, as incidents such as those
at Buxton, Rose Hall Town (in
Berbice) and many others show. The government has simply been unable to
find and destroy the armed bands.
In addition, there is strong indication of collusion between government
agencies and drug lords. Land grants, timber concessions, construction
contracts and even "bodyguard work" have been procured from government
agencies and employees. In addition, the drug lords have "sweetened" the
public with a supply of cheap imported goods in shop "fronts", in a manner
similar to what they have done with local populations on FARC-controlled
territory in Colombia.
In a situation where the government is guaranteed re-election
indefinitely, a huge section of the population feels permanently
disenfranchised and many drug lords are effectively accommodated by the
government this situation was bound to develop.
Now it probably threatens the security of the State itself. Still, the
government seems relatively unconcerned. The dragon has spotted a potential
quarry and contemplates it ... If the drug lords can find a suitable
candidate/group to run for government and make it look like their man has no
choice but violence, it would only be a matter of subduing the police and
the army ...
Now, how hard can that be?
Norman Gonsalves, California, USA; March 3, 2006
Perhaps the international forum needs to be aware of the crimes in Guyana of
which its citizens are being robbed, terrorized and killed on a daily basis
while its president sits idly and does absolutely nothing. Almost all the
crimes committed in Guyana are unsolved. The Guyana Police Force and Guyana
Defense Force have done very little to none to stop the crimes from being
committed. President Jagdeo, you have not denounced nor have you stepped up
efforts to irradiate rampant robberies and killings. What kind of president
sits idly while his country is being hijacked by criminals? Is it because
election is soon upon the Guyanese people you want a division to be created
so you can be reelected based on fear in the Indian population? Your family
is being protected because you can afford to hire protection for them, but
my family is at the mercy of the â€œkillers.â€ How is this just?
Recently, news of robberies in villages spanning Eccles to Houston has been
brought to the police force's attention -- a response of, â€œwe have to wait
until the crime happensâ€ was received by my family. Most notably the
killings in Eccles and Agricola. The police waited for an incident and they
got one. Why did we have to wait for people to die? There are criminals
living openly in Agricola â€' walking the streets with guns tucked in their
waist bands. If they can be seen by civilians why can't they be seen by the
cops and soldiers?
Why aren't the GDF and GPF working side-by-side to protect the citizens of
Guyana? Why isn't the GDF being utilized more effectively? President Jagdeo,
why are you sitting idly while innocent men, women and children are being
victimized on a daily basis?
Please answer the questions above; the country is waiting on your response.
Letter to the Editor of
Stabroek News, Friday, October 1st 2004
I wish to speak on matters that need urgent attention in our society. They
deal specifically with the state of our educational institutions. Those
buildings are left in a state of disrepair, due to neglect and lack of
I often wonder whether the authorities are fully aware of the effects this
can have on our nation's children and teachers.
Teachers are moulders of the nation, and therefore deserve the best. The
youths are the future of tomorrow, so what are we doing?
For instance the situation at St Rose's High School has reached crisis
proportions. The entire building needs complete rehabilitation and
renovation. The exterior of the building leaves you to wonder, as does the
interior. This school should be closed for at least one month for repairs,
painting, proper fencing, staff room facilities etc. The stairway leading to
the auditorium needs a face lift, fans and rehabilitation.
The main entrance in the auditorium is insanitary, you can hardly bear the
stench, even in the compound itself.
I think the Ministry of Education needs to examine the situation carefully
and give priority to this school's Unit for the Blind. These children need
space and proper facilities, they're choked in one classroom without proper
ventilation. I remember they used to operate where St. Agnes' Nursery is
currently. Why can't the Ministry of Education rent a building or build one
to accommodate the St. Agnes' Nursery.
I think it is grossly unfair to those disabled kids and hardworking
SN Editor's note:
We are sending a copy of this letter to the Ministry of Education for any
comment they may wish to make.
Visit the St.Rose's
High School Alumni Association (Toronto) website
[The following piece was
inspired by the
UN Anti-Corruption Toolkit.]
Me : Yuh read de dacument?
Senior Minister : Yes Yes..ah read it from front to de bac..ah read it till
me head bussing wit tings..
Me : Suh wha gun happen?
Senior Minister : Well??!! Deh gat some adduh tings we gat fuh look at...yuh
doe jump in to dese tings like dat. Nex week ah gun tell yuh wha de
Next Week :
Me : Suh wha happenning?
Senior Minister : Yes!! Yes!! Ah tel de boys fuh read it das all ah cud do
fuh now ... As yuh know de Guvment gat plenty moe pressing matters to look
into an nat becaws de UN seh suh is suh ... de gat plenty adduh dacuments
fuh look at befoe we bring it to Cabinet attention.
Deh gat IMF and Worl Bank pushing fire pun we backside, deh gat dis
Customs prablem,de gat some prablem in de Ministry ah Works,deh even gat
prablems in de Minstry ah Edication. ... Deh gat prablems in de Minstry a
Home Affairs ... ah tell de man fuh walk rung with a lil steel safe but like
he like see all de money pun e desk ..... Ah even tell de man dat is ony if
yuh selling in de maahket dat yuh does gat all dat money pun yuh table..de
maan in listening ... like he like fuh see fair play ... Ah even tell e dat
if yuh selling de licence an suh, doh tek de money from de people haan ...
leh deh guh an pay someway else...., give de money to somebady outside dat
yuh can truss. Doh leh anybady see yuh tekking money in yuh own haan ....
nat in yuh affice in de Ministry!!!... but de man in listening ... Ah tell
dem boys at Finance an Customs dat deh tempting
fate ... dat nat jus deh get dis Customs wuk deh gat fuh go out an bill big
house an drive rung in 4b4 ... it does look baad ... dat everybady know dat
even dough deh wukking at Customs fuh de res ah deh life dat deh salary in
enough to even by de 4b4 or even mek de verandah ah de house ... deh mekking
fancy house an driving 4b4 aftah waan year at de Customs wuk ... dese boys
in tinking how it looking..
You tink running Guvment is like running store ... bai !! leh me tell yuh
... is hard wuk..!!
Deh gat prablems at Works, ... bigbig prablems ... plenty contract going
out but we in seein anyting happenning ... we see de whaffs breaking down
... we see de road bruking up aftah two-tree month ... deh give money fuh
fix up de holes in de roads an ah hear deh mixing de bitumen with mud an
sand ... road gat fuh break up again!!!
Deh gat prablems at National Insurance ... somebady tiefing plenty ... de
people in even gettin deh money fuh de caffin dat de pramis wen deh deading
... Deh gat plenty prablems at Edication ... all dem school bilding half
finish ... some ah dem in gat tailet an suh ... whe' de money going!!!???
Deh gat prablems at Finance..Geological Surveys ... Lans an Mines..Deh gat
plenty prablems at OPM ... Well we gat to keep "e" deh..cyant do nutting
caws 'lections coming up soon... We gat big prablems at PUC ... de people
sehing ting bowt de Chairman and members ... De ony place dat deh in gat
prablems is Sports and Culture...but
who can say??... wen deh start billin de Cricket complex we gun see. Deh gat
big prablems at Housing... wen ah seh big is big-big ... ah mean it start
even befoe dis Minister tek ovah de wuk ... remember de house in Ogle?
.....You tink running Guvment is like running store..bai !! leh me tell yuh
..is hard wuk..
Laas night by de Evrest..de boys sehing....
Next Week :
Me : Well Bass anyting?
Senior Minister : You still tinking bowt dat corruption ting still? Well ah
give de boys de dacument but deh in come back to me as yet an deh in seh
anyting ... look deh gat de Canfrence ah ... deh gat dis Caricom meeting ...
deh gat a Defence council meeting ... maan??!! Dem boys
busybusy ... but hopefully we gun hear someting from dem soon...
Laas night by Narines...
Bai Romesh!!?? Dis corruption ting is like trying fuh ketch Missa
Craabdaag ....Yuh tek all yuh time fuh ketch some strimps, some nice mullet
an banga an yuh gat dem in yuh basket an yuh siddown deh pun de foe-shore
tekking a lil smoke an bam!! ... yuh hear a lil nize an yuh tun yuh head an
wha yuh see??.... Missa Craabdaagan e frens deh walk up quiet-quiet an tief
all yuh strimps an fish...Yuh din even know dat deh did looking at yuh..de
ony ting yuh see is deh running up de foeshore wit deh tail between deh
batty an yuh fish an strimps in deh mouth ... Try fuh ketch dem... Maan ah
tell yuh Romesh ... dem craabdaag does wuk quiet-quiet ..... Anyhow ah gun
tahk to yuh nex week and tell yuh wha happenning.
You tink running Guvment is like running store ... bai !! leh me tell yuh
..is hard wuk...
..... Laas night by de Craab Hole ... de boys did sehing...
Romesh Singh, WGML, January 2004
Eh-eh . iz wah gyin' an in awee country today??!!!!
I was just going over the news and am amazed at the way it could
have been read. Bear with me as I suggest the following:
The reason that the "Alleged attacker still roams the hospital
compound", is very clear. Yesterday, Crime Chief, Mr. Leon Trim,
admitted to the Disciplined Forces Commission, that the "Police
Can't Catch Big Fish."
The police is claiming that the "man now returns to the ward
whenever he wants since police who were placed at the man's bedside
have given up their duties due to the man's behaviour."
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out his behavior.
Simply put, The Slasher is high on Chatraj Boodlall's coked-up
pholouri, egg balls and sugar cakes.
I wouldn't be surprise if we read tomorrow that The Slasher is seen
in his room playing with the "two ornamental turtles and some wooden
penholders" that thirty-year-old Rhonda Bowling of 277 Norton
Street, Wortmanville, was caught trying to mail from Guyana Post
Office Corporation (GPOC), Robb Street, to her relatives in Ohio.
As for police officer Jairam Shivram, I'm so sorry that he got
slashed up badly. But with due respect as to the severity of the
crime and injury, let me ask the List this question. Police or no
police . if you see a man with a planass (Trini for cutlass),
swiping around, and you, the police do not even have a pointa in
your hand, would you approach The Slasher??
Now, the Police Public Relations Department in a press release
finally figured out that the man is of unsound mind. What did they
expect from our sniffer, who was spotted hanging around Chatraj
Boodlall's Snackette in Robb
Hey [name edited], was it your boys that cornered Karen Sue Chobot
as she was attempting to smuggle out the pholouri, egg balls and
sugar cake? Did you taste any? Boy ... that's a new take on an
ever-present East Indian finger-food, and we Guyanese hors
d'oeuvre. Ah kumin' an' visit mid-Decemba .... mek sure ah get a
big 'elpin' of egg balls...! ;-)
Now to top it off I read that Stanley Ming is accusing the PPP of
bringing the "Private Sector to its knees". Wow.!!! Private
Sector.!!!! Is this a new politically-coined phrase for some parts
of the human anatomy? If so,
then put the whole lot in the same cell with Andy Arthur from
Industrial Site Squatting Area.
I'm sure Andy and his boys can convince some of our present-day
politicians to heed to the nation's cries.! Let them be awakened to
a new reality.!
And if Andy et al cannot make the politicians "see the light", then
I'm sure Mr. Mohanlall a.k.a. Lall, can ably assist in this
revelation with a few jolts from his electrical fence. Talk about
seeing the light....!
And the good 5th son of the Ming dynasty didn't stop there with his
urges. He goes on to attack the government with "small, medium and
large [.] been deeply [.] interlocked [.] when it [.] was ham-fisted
[in] private sectors."
And to top off the morning's bad news, I just read that Air Transat
will not be flying our dear comrades from Toronto to Guyana.!
Ya'll poor souls.! Alyuh ah punish..? Kum an' jine meh an' lewe
guh dung on sum ah Boodlall's suga cake an' egg ball ....
Ah gan an' keep meh eye on Ming an' protek meh private sekta...!!!
[Anonymous, Nov.12, 2003]
Don't Miss The Boat, Bharat
As events surrounding the crime spree unfold in Guyana, we may be missing
the silver lining on the dark clouds of this entire affair.
Our attention was drawn to it briefly by rescued businessman Viticharran
Singh, who expressed profound gratitude to the mainly Black Guyanese
lawmen who saved his life, and stated his pride to be a citizen of Guyana
along with ALL other Guyanese.
Here we had(?) a situation that threatened the well-being of the entire
nation ... a situation that required extraordinary effort by the Police
and Army. In raw terms, however, this meant Afro-Guyanese confronting
Afro-Guyanese with deadly force, because most of the criminals, AND the
lawmen, were Afro-Guyanese. The reluctance of the lawmen to use deadly
force early in this affair was testimony to the personal crisis facing
many of them.
In the end, however, a sense of patriotic duty prevailed among our
lawmen, and the necessary action was taken. It took the joint effort of
ALL Guyanese to move Guyana forward, and Viticharran Singh recognised
What has been amazing, however, is that no PPP politician has publicly
acknowledged and praised this remarkable act of unity among Guyanese. No
one has started a public campaign to reward the Police and Army (even if
only verbally) and no one has sought to impress upon Guyanese this
extraordinary lesson in unity.
If this affair goes by without proper redress by those in authority, we
would have lost a sterling opportunity to promote unity in a nation where
it is very badly needed. We would also have missed a great opportunity to
elevate pride among our people, and especially among the Afro-Guyanese,
who must take great credit for the personal sacrifices they made.
Don't miss the boat again, Bharrat. We can still salvage something of
great national value from this very sorry chapter in our history.
Norman Gonsalves, California, USA
Guyanese seem to recall their villains more readily than their heroes.
Very often we let acts of heroism go unnoticed, and often we take them
for granted. Our teachers, doctors, policemen, and even our traders, may
have been heroes in our lives at various times.
Two individuals come to mind when I try to think of people who were
heroes to me personally. The first was my Fourth Standard teacher, Mrs
Daniels, and the other was a very well known individual whose identity
will surprise many people.
Mrs Daniels, who taught my 4th Standard class at Carmel RC school in
1965, would teach tirelessly, and would try to answer any question
whatsoever that her students would pose. She had us go through the
"Student's Companion", "Common Sense in English", "Brighter Grammar",
etc. She always had her classes well planned out, and always kept us
busy. The things she taught us still help me every day. At the time many
students thought she was a slave driver, but I am sure they feel
privileged today to have gone through her "hands".
The other individual became my hero under strange circumstances. In the
late 70's I was a student in Europe, in a country where there were very
few Guyanese, and Burnham was paying an official visit. My Guyanese
friend and I (the only 2 Guyanese in a city of over 5 million) showed up
at the airport, hoping to merely catch a glimpse of Fat Boy, as Burnham
was fondly known as then.
To our surprise, the local officials, who wanted to snub Burnham,
recognized us and place us right on the airport runway, along with the
City Mayor and a few minor City officials, to be the welcoming party for
Burnham. We did not understand that we were being used to insult Burnham.
Instead, we thought it was a great privilege indeed.
Burnham arrived, shook hands, and disappeared into the VIP lounge with
his rather large entourage of ministers, party officials, etc. Next day
we visited the hotel he and his entourage were staying, hoping to be able
to chat briefly with the President. To our disappointment the entire
Guyanese group gave us the cold shoulder - and a very cold one at that.
For about half an hour they made us feel most unwelcome, to the point
where we were about to leave - terribly disappointed that our own people
refused to be nice to us in a very foreign land, where we probably won't
see another Guyanese for years.
Finally one government official came over to us, and started chatting
with us as if he knew us all his life. Before long he was telling us
jokes, in between his questions about this strange country. Were we
comfortable? Were we getting letters from Guyana? Could we speak the
language? Were the educational facilities good? Were the people nice to
us? Etc. Before long a few more government officials (Hamilton Green,
Oscar Clarke, etc) , many of whom deliberately snubbed us before, came
over and joined in the conversation, which was quite jovial by now.
Eventually the group had to leave, because of scheduled activities, and
we parted company. We still didn't get to see Burnham, but we were most
happy. That one individual, who had the guts to rise above the petty
attitudes of his comrades, had been a personal hero of mine for the rest
of his life.
His name - Hugh Desmond Hoyte. May he rest in peace.
Norman Gonsalves, California, USA
Visiting Guyana 30 Years later!
July 15th, 2002 -- When I left Guyana for Canada, I never dreamed that it would take me almost 30 years before setting my feet back on Guyanese soil. As a teenager, my
departure from Georgetown, in the early seventies, was focussed mainly on completing my education, building a career and supporting my less fortunate relatives. During this time, the opportunity arose on several occasions to return to Guyana, but the ongoing uneasiness there created hesitation on my part. Also, all of my siblings are now based in other parts of the world, thus limiting my contact with the way of life in Guyana. However, during these
decades of my life in a French environment (Quebec), I tried as much as possible to remain in touch with the activities within the country, which I once called home as a youngster. Being the offspring of a Venezuelan/Guyanese couple, I was fortunate to gain an insight into two cultures, yet the period of primary and most of my secondary school years in Georgetown impacted very much on my
development as an adult.
During the last week of June, five of us boarded an Air Transat plane bound for Guyana. It was amazing to note that, in spite of the sporadic disturbances, which we had gotten accustomed to hearing about, this flight consisted mainly of Canadian Guyanese wanting to vacation in their homeland. These folks from various races were quite friendly and I think politics and racial disturbances were the last things on their minds. Passing through Customs and Immigration at Cheddi Jagan Airport was no different from arriving in any other Caribbean or Latin American country - Hot temperatures and slow service! This waiting period allowed me to reflect on my
departure from this airport 30 years ago and now my return as a middle aged established adult. No matter what I was to experience in the coming weeks, the intention was to reeducate myself with the Guyanese way of life and have a great time with my relatives (in-laws). Our initial point of
destination was the West Coast of Berbice so we only passed through Georgetown on the way there. It was surprising to see how small the streets were (comparing them with Toronto where I now reside) and how the buildings had
deteriorated. Leaving Georgetown decades ago, my memory was vague and it took me a while to remember my surroundings. By the time I became more familiar, we were already in Kitty and on the way to Berbice. At this point, we agreed to spend some time shopping in Georgetown before returning to Canada.
Now, having never visited Berbice, I felt like a tourist and fully enjoyed the scenery on the route. We stayed on the West Coast of Berbice for a couple of days, which unfortunately, was not enough time to really see the area. However, we found the people very amicable and receptive. Here, I had my first taste of a rooster 'alarm clock', no batteries nor AC required, waking me up at 5:00 am! While in this part of Guyana, we were happy to see Guyanese from all walks of life living peacefully in the same communities.
After the 2 days, we embarked on the trip to our main destination within the Essequibo town of Charity at the side of the Pomeroon river. Again, we only passed through Georgetown quite rapidly and headed across the floating bridge on the
Demerara river. This was new to me as the only way to cross over when I left Georgetown was via speedboats and ferries. I found the roads to be better than the ones in Berbice and really enjoyed the sightseeing along the way. Arriving at Parika was another experience as there were so many baggage handlers vying for our business that it got uneasy at times. Yet, I must say that this was due to everyone trying to make a living. After finally getting our luggage into a small speedboat, we had a 45 minute boat ride to Supernaam, from where we would be travelling inland to our final
destination Charity. My mom had mentioned that we had visited the Pomeroon area when I was four years old, so after 40 plus years this was totally new to me. Being city bred, I was overwhelmed by the countryside atmosphere and the friendly people of all races there. Thus, I began a visit of 11 unforgettable days within the easygoing, loveable, peaceful and beautiful atmosphere of this Essequibo region. At every house we visited, there were open arms and 'my house is your house' treatment
demonstrated to us and this just confirms to us that Guyanese are a very welcoming and accommodating people, especially to strangers. Waking up early in the morning (5:00 am with the roosters) was not that appealing but the fresh air, chickens, ducks, coconut water, mangoes, boat rides, swimming in the river, friendly people etc. more than made up for that.
During our time in Charity, we passed a very pleasant day at the Mainstay Resort, went on a Ferry excursion and enjoyed a 'bush cook' at a beach front on the Atlantic ocean bordering the Pomeroon river. Noted places to mention would be the Purpleheart and Xenon nightclubs, where we met Guyanese of all races. Who says that Guyanese cannot party, as the latest music and fashions have found their way down to the Essequibo coast! Naturally, the beauty of Guyanese women is ever present there.
Market day Monday was the main busy day in Charity and it was a splendid sight to see so many vendors vying for sales from customers. Although, as tourists, we received our share of stares, at no time did we feel threatened and instead felt at home amongst the people shopping there. As traffic is centered around the river, speedboats and canoes are continuously on the go to the market landings.
From my in-laws, I received treatment fit for royalty. Our difference in cultures was unnoticeable as they went out of their way to make me feel at home. They, like the others folks in Charity, work hard for their living yet they are so pleasant and receptive, while being thankful for their way of life. When we had to leave, I was torn between heading back to my modern technology lifestyle in Toronto or remaining in this peaceful and quiet atmosphere in Essequibo. The friendships I have gained and the pleasant memories of wonderful people will keep me going until my next trip (next year!). Guess I already know where I would like to be when I retire! Before heading back home, we had the opportunity to spend one enjoyable evening at the Prairie International Hotel, about 15 minutes away from the Airport. The meals, service, accommodation and exterior sights, including a
deck on to the Demerara river are worth mentioning. We had planned to return to Berbice for another couple of days and also visit Georgetown, but with the unfortunate incidents in Georgetown and Buxton, we were reluctant to do so. I can now understand why Guyanese abroad are hesitant to return home, especially with their kids. I can only hope and pray that there is improvement on the political side so that Guyana can
develop and truly become one people, one nation and one destiny! Today, I look back and regret not visiting my homeland earlier but as they say, it's better late than never. A bonus, while there, was finding my mom's sister, who she hadn't seen in over 40 years, living within this same Charity area. To the remaining Guyanese who have yet to return home, try to do so soon and I only hope that you will get the opportunity to visit Essequibo while there. To you, Charity folks, thanks for making my stay so pleasant. You do very well as ambassadors of Guyanese good will towards fellow men. See you next year!
Keith Hernandez, Toronto, Canada.