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Bacoo - A spirit of small stature that pelts stones at houses and moves objects within a house. He is supposed to live on banana and milk. Stories abound of the existence of bacoos in Georgetown and other areas in Guyana. Could have come from Surinam and are said to be trapped in a corked bottle unless released. Active mainly at night, it is said that a satisfied bakkoo will answer the wishes of its owner. 'Baku' in many West African languages means 'little brother' or 'short man'. It also is related to the word the word 'bacucu' meaning 'banana'. In West Africa, the short races (such as the pygmies) were believed to have magical powers. This seemed to have been brought to Guyana, where the short races, or 'bakus', were still regarded as having magical powers. (Courtesy Wayne's Guyana Outpost)
Ole Higue - The story is that the ole higue, the Guyanese form of a human vampire, capable of discarding her skin takes the form of an old woman living in a community. At night she transforms herself into a ball of fire, flies from her own house up into the sky and then lands on the roof of another house where there is a baby in a cradle underneath a sheet whose blood she will suck dry and then go home. The suspicions of the community are soon aroused and the school children cry "ole higue" at her; they make chalk marks, on the bridge to her house, the door, the jalousie window. But the legend goes that she crosses these marks bravely. Then the community sets a trap. When the ole higue flies abroad another night she finds that the baby in the cradle is clothed in a blue night gown. There is a heap of rice grains near to the cot and the smell of asfoetida. These cast a spell on the ole higue who has to count the grains of rice, and if she loses her way, she has to start counting again. The light of morning comes and the ole higue still has not finished counting the grains of rice. People burst into the room pick up cabbage broom and begin to belabour the ole higue. They beat her to death, with great emotion "You gwine pay for your sins before you die" they say. The Old Higue waits until the early hours of the morning and when everyone is asleep; then the Old Higue sheds its human skin; then the Old Higue travels in a ball of fire searching for victims; then the Old Higue slips through the keyhole of the house of its chosen victim; then the Old Higue sucks the blood of a child dry, dry, dry! Oh, the deep fear of it is enough to cause a child to remain awake all night, every night. (Courtesy Wayne's Guyana Outpost)
Creole Chips (1937)
Corentyne Thunder (1941)
A Morning at the Office (1950)
Shadows Move Among Them (1951)
Children of Kaywana (1952)
The Weather in Middenshot (1952)
The Life and Death of Sylvia (1953)
Kaywana Stock: The Harrowing of Hubertus (1954)
The Adding Machine (a short fable) (1954)
My Bones and My Flute (1955)
Of Trees and the Sea (1956)
A Tale of Three Places (1957)
Kaywana Blood (1958)
The Weather Family (1958)
A Tinkling in the Twilight (1959)
Latticed Echoes (1960)
The Mad MacMullochs (1961)
Thunder Returning (1961)
The Piling of Clouds (1961)
The Wounded and the Worried (1962)
Uncle Paul (1963)
A Swarthy Boy (autiobiography) (1963)
The Aloneness of Mrs. Chatham (1965)
The Jilkington Drama (1965)
With a Carib Eye (travel)(1965)
On behalf of the Mittelholzer family and for my own research purposes I am looking to acquire anything regarding Edgar Mittelholzer and older books about Guyana. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com
A man with dreams and vision came
To fight âgainst Colonial powers, for Guyanaâs name
A titanic great and strong
Who toiled and toiled so long â
Yet with fortitude and poetic speed
âGainst those who conspired, he succeed.
A minute to give is not enough
He fathered the Nation
A minute to give is not enough.
Your dreams enfold the clouds beyond Guyanaâs land
The illustrious President Cheddi Jagan
Gone to the Caribbean, the whole world to see
The poet to say, âThe dreamerâs dreams enlightened meâ
An epitaph to Cheddi
âA stalwart of humanityâ
A minute to give is not enough
He fathered the Nation
A minute to give is not enough.
Poem by: James C. Richmond
To teach some history about Guyana, in poetry and prose
To tell about the 1200âs, when Waraus, Arawaks and Caribs settled and rove
And alas, Columbus came and sighted Guyanaâs shores
Then came Sir Walter Raleigh to explore
He entered Orinocco River in search of El Dorado, the City of Gold
Essequibo the Dutch did stole
And in 1640 the African Soldiers, to Guyanaâs land as slaves
Then the Dutch settled on Pomeroon Riverâs enclave
Only to war âgainst England and crave
Settlements were established in Essequibo and Berbice in 1743
In â63, CUFFY tried to set the captive free, to set the captive free
The British captured Demerara for fame
Then the French and Dutch tried the same game
In Demerara and Berbice the Dutch reigned supreme
Only to see Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice fall to the British scheme
In 1822 New Amsterdam became
Then the East Coast Demerara uprising
In 1835 the arrival of the Portuguese
Then 1838 the East Indians relieved
The Germans succumbed to diseases
Then came the Chinese
1966, the Independence date
And in 1960 a Republic State
Now and forever, Guyana awaits.
Poem by: James C. Richmond
To order James' CD entitled, 'Emerging Sound' which contains 49 poems and costs only $10.00 please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and help support one of the most talented artists and creative voices that Guyana has to offer...
A simple friend has never seen you cry.
A real friend has shoulders soggy from your tears.
A GUYANESE FREND CAUSE DE DAM TEARS IN DE FUST PLACE
A simple friend doesn't know your parents' first names.
A real friend has their phone numbers in his address book.
A GUYANESE FREND KNOW WHEA DEY LIVIN, WAT DEM COOKIN', ON WAT DAY, AN WILL SHOW UP AT THEY DOORSTEPS TO EAT IT
A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.
A real friend comes early to help you cook and clean.
A GUYANESE FREN COME LATE, BRING A BUNCH UH PEOPLE AND DEN EAT ALL DE FOOD AND DRINK ALL DE RUM
A simple friend hates it when you call after he has gone to bed.
A real friend asks you why you took so long to call.
AH GUYANESE FREN SCREENIN DE CALL AN DONT ANSA WEN IS YOU
A simple friend seeks to talk with you about their problems.
A real friend seeks to help you with your problems.
A GUYANESE FREND WILL LISTEN TO YUH PROBLEMS AN CRY WID YUH, EVEN OFFA TO HELP YUH, DEN TELL EVERYBODY, AN ADD A LIL JUICE TO IT
(Courtesy of Asif De Rebel)
Walter Rodney was born in Georgetown, Guyana on March 23, 1942. His was a working class family-his father was a tailor and his mother a seamstress. After attending primary school, he won an open exhibition scholarship to attend Queens College as one of the early working-class beneficiaries of concessions made in the filed of education by the ruling class in Guyana to the new nationalism that gripped the country in the early 1950s. While at Queens College young Rodney excelled academically, as well as in the fields of athletics and debating. In 1960, he won an open scholarship to further his studies at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. He graduated with a first-class honors degree in history in 1963 and. he won an open scholarship to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. In 1966, at the age of 24 he was awarded a Ph.D. with honors in African History. His doctoral research on slavery on the Upper Guinea Coast was the result of long meticulous work on the records of Portuguese merchants both in England and in Portugal. In the process he learned Portuguese and Spanish which along with the French he had learned at Queens College made him somewhat of a linguist. In 1970, his Ph.D dissertation was published by Oxford University Press under the title, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545-1800. This work was to set a trend for Rodney in both challenging the assumptions of western historians about African history and setting new standards for looking at the history of oppressed peoples. According to Horace Campbell "This work was path-breaking in the way in which it analyzed the impact of slavery on the communities and the interrelationship between societies of the region and on the ecology of the region." Walter took up his first teaching appointment in Tanzania before returning to his alma mater, the University of the West Indies, in 1968. This was a period of great political activity in the Caribbean as the countries begun their post colonial journey. But it was the Black Power Movement that caught Walter's imagination. Some new voices had begun to question the direction of the post-independence governments, in particular their attitude to the plight of the downpressed. The issue of empowerment for the black and brown poor of the region was being debated among the progressive intellectuals. Rodney, who from very early on had rejected the authoritarian role of the middle class political elite in the Caribbean, was central to this debate. He, however, did not confine his activities to the university campus. He took his message of Black Liberation to the gullies of Jamaica. In particular he shared his knowledge of African history with one of the most rejected section of the Jamaican society-the Rastafarians. Walter had shown an interest in political activism ever since he was a student in Jamaica and England. Horace Campbell reports that while at UWI Walter "was active in student politics and campaigned extensively in 1961 in the Jamaica Referendum on the West Indian Federation." While studying in London, Walter participated in discussion circles, spoke at the famous Hyde Park and, participated in a symposium on Guyana in 1965. It was during this period that Walter came into contact with the legendary CLR James and was one of his most devoted students. By the summer of 1968 Rodney's "groundings with the working poor of Jamaica had begun to attract the attention of the government. So, when he attended a Black Writers' Conference in Montreal, Canada, in October 1968, the Hugh Shearer-led Jamaican Labor Party Government banned him from re-entering the country. This action sparked widespread riots and revolts in Kingston in which several people were killed and injured by the police and security forces, and millions of dollars worth of property destroyed.. Rodney's encounters with the Rastafarians were published in a pamphlet entitled "Grounding with My Brothers," that became a bible for the Caribbean Black Power Movement. Having been expelled from Jamaica, Walter returned to Tanzania after a short stay in Cuba.. There he lectured from 1968 to 1974 and continued his groundings in Tanzania and other parts of Africa. This was the period of the African liberation struggles and Walter, who fervently believed that the intellectual should make his or her skills available for the struggles and emancipation of the people, became deeply involved.. It was from partly from these activities that his second major work, and his best known --How Europe Underdeveloped Africa - emerged. It was published by Bogle-L'Ouverture, in London, in conjunction with Tanzanian Publishing House in 1972. This Tanzanian period was perhaps the most important in the formation of Rodney's ideas. According to Horace Campbell "Here he was at the forefront of establishing an intellectual tradition which still today makes Dar es Salaam one of the centers of discussion of African politics and history. Out of he dialogue, discussions and study groups he deepened the Marxist tradition with respect to African politics, class struggle, the race question, African history and the role of the exploited in social change. It was within the context of these discussions that the book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa was written." Campbell also reports that " In he same period, he wrote the critical articles on Tanzanian Ujamaa, imperialism, on underdevelopment, and the problems of state and class formation in Africa. Many of his articles which were written in Tanzania appeared in Maji Maji, the discussion journal of the TANU Youth League at the University. He worked in the Tanzanian archives on the question of forced labor, the policing of the countryside and the colonial economy. This work-- " World War II and the Tanzanian Economy"-- was later published as a monograph by Cornell University in 1976". Rodney also developed a reputation as a Pan-Africanist theoretician and spokes person. Campbell says that "In Tanzania he developed close political relationships with those who were struggling to change the external control of Africa He was very close to some of the leaders of liberation movements in Africa and also to political leaders of popular organizations of independent territories. Together with other Pan-Africanists he participated in discussing leading up to the Sixth Pan-African Congress, held in Tanzania, 1974. Before the Congress he wrote a piece: "Towards the Sixth Pan-African Congress: Aspects of the International Class Struggle in Africa, the Caribbean and America." In 1974, Walter returned to Guyana to take up an appointment as Professor of History at the University of Guyana, but the government rescinded the appointment. But Rodney remained in Guyana, joined the newly formed political group, the Working People's Alliance. Between 1974 and his assassination in 1980, he emerged as the leading figure in the resistance movement against the increasingly authoritarian PNC government. He give public and private talks all over the country that served to engender a new political consciousness in the country. During this period he developed his ideas on the self emancipation of the working people, People's Power, and multiracial democracy. On July 11, 1979, Walter, together with seven others, was arrested following the burning down of two government offices. He, along with Drs Rupert Roopnarine and Omawale, was later charged with arson. From that period up to the time of his murder, he was constantly persecuted and harassed and at least on one occasion, an attempt was made to kill him. Finally, on the evening of June 13, 1980, he was assassinated by a bomb in the middle of Georgetown.. Walter was married to Dr Patricia Rodney and the union bore three children- Shaka, Kanini and Asha.
(Courtesy of http://rodney25.org/)
Fellow Guyanese, genealogists, historians, and interested persons who are attempting to unpuzzle the footssteps of their ancestors. The Guyana Genealogical and Biographical Society is a diverse group of dedicated volunteer genealogists. The members of the society are connected via World Wide Web. They attempt to access, to obtain, and to present genealogical, biographical and historical information concerning Guyanese, and others connected to Guyana. The society endeavours to associate itself with those who are interested in the related, social sciences. At the moment, the Guyana Genealogical and Biographical Society is seeking your input, articles of the history of your family, and links to genealogical interests to Guyanese. By this common sharing we hope preserve the peoples history of this great country.
Thus, you are asked to do the following;
Guyanese Genealogical Society
and visit the regularly updated web site.
2. Offer your suggestions
3. Write and send articles which will be published in the Guyana Genealogical and Biographical Society newsletter. Send articles, including the history of your family, history of your community, local heroes, village leaders, schoolteachers, postmasters, farmers, digitls of your schools, places of worship, commnities, newspaper clippings Announcements, births, deaths, marriages, anniversaies, cards, contents of your scrapbook; include the sources of information.
4. To read web logs of genealogical interests http://guygenbiosociety.blogspot.com
5. Email: email@example.com
6. Please add a link to the Guyana Genealogical and Biographical Society at your site.
7. Please forward to Guyanese institutions in Guyana, and Scholars especially the historians including those who contribute articles to your publications.
This is also a membership drive - Guyana Genealogical and Biographical Society is always seeking to increase its membership - which with meaningful participation would improve the flow of data, and the archiving of information.
Membership is free.
It is obtained by subscribing to the yahoo group forum at
Jon, Sharon, and M'lilwana
On the behalf of Guyana Genealogical and Biographical Society.
This group grew out of the need for Indians and People of Indian Origin to Post, Search, and exchange data about their family's history, genealogy, and accomplishments.
The discussions are open and all are welcome to contribute. This is the best place to obtain info on the indentureship of Indians in the Caribbean Basin.
Sancho of Nabaclis
son of Muriel, brother of Mariette Campbell, Sancho, Young, Martin & Ross.
Please visit:Guyana-Gyal's Blog
That is the sound of a thousand and one expressions without you speaking a single word.
Is the wordless sound of vexation. But depending on the context, with amusement on you lips, it can mean, âAhh man, you joking, who you think you fooling?â
With one long âstchuuuuupâ and you eyes looking thin and mean, you can cut a big man down to liâl boy size.
With a short âstchupâ and a snicker, you can tell a rival gyal that she is nothing.
âStchuuuupâ is the âsuck teethâ sound. Some does call it âstew teeth.â
Yesterday the whole day I suck my teeth.
We had a powercut, on and off, yesterday. But that ainât why I suck my teeth.
Yesterday I sew and embroider to replace them five handmade things that the ex-cleaning lady disappear with. I suck me teeth with every jab oâ that needle into the cloth.
Meaning: âHope she fall in mud and swallow a mouthful.â
Meaning: âI design, cut, bleed when the needle jook meâ¦and all this time she just skulking in the sidelines, waiting to reap what I sew...sowâ¦â
See? Suck teeth can convey anything. And some folks can take this form of expression to âartâ level. Like me Auntie A. now living in the U.SA. When she vex and suck she teeth, the sound unreel and fly out and wrap around the whole area. In it, you hear things you granny shouldnât hear. But remember! Auntie A. ainât say a word, so if you granny hear, that is okay too.
For years I use to wonder where suck teeth come from. Then one night I watching local tv [when we had a tv].
I been watching a African movie âbout some village women, they had a liâl argument. One oâ them get really vex. She release a potent suck teeth. In it, I hear every cuss word that I know and donât know. It did long and winding. Only Auntie A. coulda match that.
Aha, so that is where it come from, I think. I dunno, I just think so âcause I see it in that movie.
Anyway, in Guyana now, whether you ancestors born in Africa, China, India, Portugal or England or here, suck teeth is the cross-culture language without words. Liâl children do it; old people with only gums suck they teeth too; aunties, uncles, mothers, fathers and all the rest, do it.
To suck you teeth, you got to pout you lips in a liâl pout, clench you top and bottom teeth close, close. Push the tip oâ you tongue against you teeth. Suck in air. Stchuuuuuâ¦.when you want to finish close you lipsâ¦uuup.
When you become expert, you can even do a side-of-you-mouth suck teeth. This you do when you joking with you friends and one oâ them say something nutty.
What is that sound?
Suck teeth around Blogland.
If you're homesick [and there's no one more homesick dan all you Goyanese living in Foreign]...here's what's been cooking up in our home by de sea:
This week's menu:
Kathar curry cooked in cokenut milk.
Boiled and fried breadfruit wth mackerel.
Dhal an' rice an fish choka.
Bhagee and dhal and roti.
And don't forget the bird peppa. Or marawiriwee peppa sauce. Wid de lime achar.
Oh...a lil dessert...home-made sour sop ice cream.
Now folks, if you come back home, don't think you can cut 'awkcent' on we here anymore. The latest way to speak in Georgetown is with a 'merican twang. 'Specially wit dem radio or tv announcers.
[If you listen you will hear, from the corner of your ear: "Foofa fuffa fafafa GOTTA faffaf YOU GUYS fuffa faaafa GONNA." At least the 'merican-speak of dem announcers comes through loud and clear.]
Well...I gotta go. There's a cacophony of neighbours' dogs...barking, yipping...I wonder if the Suriname Princess across the road is back with her galloping hoot of a hound...she sneaks him over to our trees to do his # 1 and # 2. No laws to protect people here from un-princess behaviour.
The dawg almost attacked my cousin last night at our gate. And the Princess stood by, watching.
More on others t'ings lay-der.
Hear this one now.
One night, my mother talking to L., one oâ my friends brothers, on the phone.
They gyaffing, gyaffing.
I hear she talking plenty about arthritis and cod liver oil with Omega 3.
Suddenly my mother says in this amused, exasperated tone:
"Man L., look! Haul you ears! Who tell you that?â
So I bat me ears.
âLâ¦you ever hear âbout a thing name osmosis?â
[Later she tell me that he ask:
âWhat name so?â]
She explain...was one lecture about osmosis she give L, about the body absorbing harmful chemicals.
After she hang up, I ask she what happened.
âThe other day L. meet a lady who have arthritis. He tell the lady to drink cod liver oil. He tell she that it very good for arthritis, that his sister friend mother does use it, and it really help.
But the lady tell L. no, she have something better than cold liver oil with Omega 3!
She does spray CRC on the arthritis foot.â
I laugh so til I nearly...!
âCRC? CRC? That is like WD 40. People does put it on metal to get rid of rust.â
âExactly,â my mother say.
âBut after the lady tell L. how she does use it, and she tell he how it help she, he decide he got to convince me to spray CRC on me arthritis. That is when I tell he to haul he ears.â
But you think L. stop?
Nah. He ain't stop there at all.
He continue telling my mother [and let me tell you, L. does talk s-l-o-w slowwwww] how plenty people tell he âbout the CRC.
"That thing does really work for true, mums, it does work. Is everywhere I go people tellinâ me about it.â
âSo L., tell me, you would use it?â
Whenever L. donât want to say ânoâ he does say:
He tell my mother:
âWell mums, y'know...â
It had to happen one day.
One of our words...actuallyâ¦itâs quite West Indianâ¦is âofficialâ.
To poke, to jab, to stab.
It jook its way into the English dictionary. I think the English Oxford Dictionary. Thatâs the rumour. If anyone finds it, lemme know.
[Jook is what Comebackee did to her niece at a family gathering. She jook she, and jook she in she ribs with a long, bony finger. âYou, you,â she said angrily, and emphasised each âyouâ with a not quite pleasant jook.]
[Comebackee, incidentally, is a fictitious character in the making. If you do have one such person in your lifeâ¦thenâ¦
There is also the unofficial âchookââ¦a gentle jook.
[Down Under a âchookâ is an old fowl, an old gal. Iâm not sure at what age a gal moves from being a chick to a chook.]
Well, jook has been on the scene for a long time, and itâs a good word. But even in olâ Guyana weâve been busy cooking up new words for new things. Language, you see, never freezesâ¦unless itâs Latin.
Remember the good olâ fireside mud stove? Then we got hot about the kero stove, then the gas stove? One or two folks here even burn their pepperpot on an electric stove.
Well, hehâ¦most people now, no matter how them poor, them have, along with the stove, them have the new one.
They will saveâ¦
and saveâ¦and buy on credit, the michaelwave.
To âhot upâ food!
Some innovative people have found another use for the michaelwave.
It can make the sada roti swell.
But anyway, a lot of folks who want more than just a michaelwave in their life will do anything to backtrack.
Donât even bother to think this means to go back, to reverse, to back up.
To backtrack means to go forward.
To move ahead in life.
To leave Guyana and live in the USA, Canada, England, to any big country. illegally.
Conversations can go like this:
âHow auntie Merle?â
âYou no know? She gone away, she living in âmerica.â
âWhen she go?â
âLonnnng time now.â
âShe son send for she?â
âYyyes, he help sheâ¦she backtrack.â
[Some folks will legally get a visa, go on vacation abroad and stay and hide. That is not backtracking.]
Backtracking has a system of its own. If you ask around, âhow do you backtrack?â most folks will say, âMe no know, me no really know.â Then they say they think you must find a man who will get you a passport. The passport must have a photo of someone who looks like you. To get this passport you must sell your cows, your house, your mother.
The man will train you, grill you. When you land in the country of your choice you will know what to tell the immigration people.
[How the man obtains these passports is beyond my imagination. Many, Iâve heard, are stolen. Or folks with legit passports and permanent visas rent theirs.]
After you backtrack to the country of your choice, you spend your entire life working to buy back your cows, your house and your mother.
Then you have those folks who went abroad very legally.
Over the years they get homesick. They dream of retiring here. They save forever. Then they come back.
They are the comebackees.
Ay yai yai.
A mosquito just bite me foot bottom. You ever notice if you have a mosquito bite on your foot bottom, and if it swell up and get hard and red, and if you jook it, not just scratch itâ¦jook itâ¦how it does feel niiiiiice?
Aunt in the USA wrote:
"Well Missy, I ain't know where you did living.
I have a Collins English dictionary (1983 ed.) that have that same, same word 'jook'.
It on page 789.
'jook' or 'chook' Caribbean informal 1. -vb. to poke or puncture the skin 2. n. a jab or the resulting wound. Who say we ain't in the dictionary? We even on the internet all over."
Thank you, aunt. I will google it lay-der to checkid oud. [See? I speak American too.]
Please visit:Guyana-Gyal's Blog
Please visit:Martin Carter Blog
Martin Carter's earliest poetry was shaped by the turbulent days of anti-colonial radicalism and protest in Guyana (British Guiana) during the 1950s. During the thirty years since then, especially since the publication of his hallmark Poems of Resistance ( 1954), his has been the voice of radicalism in Anglophone Caribbean poetry. This preeminence as the poet of revolution has generally tended to be emphasized by the fact that revolutionary rhetoric in general, and revolutionary literature in particular, has been a rarity in the English-language Caribbean (with all due respect to the ethnic intensities that have become de rigueur in the literature during the last twenty years). Indeed, this very uniqueness probably accounts for the fact that Martin Carter's preeminence as the poet of revolution has not been seriously eroded by the muting of his revolutionary voice over the twenty years since Guyanese independence.
This silence, or near silence, may be linked to the profound disillusionment which has engulfed so much of the Third World intelligentsia, including that of the Caribbean, since the achievement of (nominal) independence. In Guyana that disillusionment has been especially intense in the wake of racial violence between Blacks and East Indians, political stagnation and repression, and the economic as well as social malaise which has undermined the experiment in cooperative republicanism. In this period the Guyanese government has been accused of seizing and maintaining its power by means of a fraudulent electoral system gerrymandered in cooperation with the British and the Americans; and more recently, the government has been accused of complicity in the violent death of one of its most vocal and popular critics, historian/activist Walter Rodney (1980). Against such a background Carter's relative silence as revolutionary poet may be interpreted either as prudence or complete disillusionment--or both. But that silence is relative: Carter's days of overt revolutionism and rebellion may be past, as have been the days of active political involvement and direct participation in government; but he has continued to write and publish his poetry-poetry which sometimes manages to convey a special intensity of feeling and purpose by the very manner in which it studiously avoids a certain directness of statement. The voice itself may have been muted, but the fiery sense of engagement which has made that voice all but unique in Anglophone Caribbean poetry still burns.
Carter was born in 1927 and received his secondary school education at Queen's College. During his early twenties he joined the turbulent political movement for national independence, quickly becoming a leading spokesman for the more radical forces of the movement. This prominence inevitably led to his arrest and imprisonment by the British colonial administration in 1953. At the time of his detention Carter had already launched his career as a poet, having contributed works to A. J. Seymour literary magazine, Kyk-over-al, and to Seymour "Miniature Poet" series of poetry pamphlets ( Hill of Fire Glows Red). But it was during his imprisonment that he composed his most important collection, Poems of Resistance, which was eventually published in London, in 1954.
After his release from prison Carter remained active in the independence movement and in 1965 was a member of the colony's delegation to the Guyana Constitutional Conference in London, the final hurdle before the formal achievement of nationhood. Thereafter he served for two years ( 1966-67) as a member of Guyana's delegation to the United Nations. He has also served in the Guyanese government at home, most notably as minister of information and culture, finally leaving the government in 1971. Throughout this entire period he has maintained the dual roles of poet and activist, an appropriate choice in one whose most important writings have passionately advocated involvement and commitment. Consequently the years of political activity and government service also saw the appearance of the first half of his published output, followed by works ranging from the last of his outspoken collections, Poems of Shape and Motion ( 1955), to the cryptic reticence of Poems of Affinity: 1978-1980 ( 1980).
MAJOR WORKS AND THEMES
From as early as his first significant publications Martin Carter's distinctive voice of protest and rebellion is unmistakably clear. Unlike so many early collections, especially in the Caribbean, The Hill of Fire Glows Red avoids the neoRomantic idealization of landscape. Instead of the familiar pastoral clichÃ©s, the young Carter's landscape vibrates with historical memories, which, in turn, inspire an urgent demand for change. In "Listening to the Land" the poet hears a "tongueless whispering," the possible voice of a buried slave who embodies the past. The response to the landscape is activist rather than escapist, and when the young poet dreams, his are dreams of social change ( "Looking at Your Hands"). In earlier works like these it is fairly easy to grasp the dominant features of Carter's poetic personality. It is a personality in which the imagination of activist and artist is indivisible, and in some respects these poems are about the imagination and its transforming powers--it transforms the land itself into an insistent voice of history and, simultaneously, responds to the voices of history by envisioning change, including revolutionary change, as the desirable and inevitable consequences of that history. And, finally, the poet's own persona as the embodiment of the transforming imagination incarnates the vision of change. Accordingly, the revolutionary idealist envisions change as a creative process which produces vital forms (social and political structures) out of the chaos of colonial inequities, in much the same way that the poetic imagination creates living forms in art ( "The Kind Eagle").
In a sense the poems of The Kind Eagle ( 1952) suggest an interesting paradox: chaos and repression are reprehensible on the one hand; but on the other hand, they emerge as indispensable factors. In political terms the liabilities of history have inspired the kind of intellectual and political ferment which fuel an (apparently) inevitable process of fundamental change. Prison, both as literal experience and as colonial symbol, therefore inspires a fierce ecstacy in the title poem of the collection: "I Dance on the Wall of Prison!" ( Poems of Succession, 1977, p. 19; hereafter cited as POS). And by a similar token, the poetic imagination thrives on political adversity and on the reminders of historical injustices: it carves monuments out of the poet's "time," from the "jagged block of convict years" ( POS, p. 19). Moreover, the consistent integration of imagination and historical memory imparts a powerfully suggestive sense of inevitability to Carter's ethics of change. The envisioned changes, even if unrealized, are as much a part of a distinctive historical pattern, as is the past which made the present itself inevitable. And this pervasive sense of inevitability inspires recurrent images and themes of movement to the poems of The Kind Eagle--movement as history, history as change, change as the collective, irresistible pilgrimage undertaken by a special breed of visionaries: the universe of history moves, "revolves / like a circling star," and "Only men of fire will survive" ( "The Discovery of Companion," POS, p. 24).
Altogether, these early collections reflect a tightly knit dialectic, with its closely integrated poetic forms, which are to define a good part of Carter's poetry for much of the next fifteen years. The ethos of change is both political ideal and the creative principle of imagination. The patterns of history are mirrored in the imaginative patterns of the poet's art, and since both patterns have been shaped by the same social forces, then the poetic imagination must, perforce, be politically involved. Or in the words of the poet himself, "Like a web / is spun the pattern / all are involved" ( Poems of Resistance, p. 18).
That assertion is the climactic statement of "You Are Involved," a work which is one of the most typical, in tone and feeling, of the celebrated collection, Poems of Resistance. This is the collection in which the twenty-seven-year-old Carter fuses the characteristic themes and forms of the preceding works into the compact designs of his best, and most famous works--"Till I Collect,""Cartman of Dayclean,""I Come from the Nigger Yard," and "University of Hunger." It is characteristic of Carter's writings at this stage of his development that these successful poems owe much to the turbulent times and frankly repressive circumstances in which they were written. They were composed, for the most part, while he was in political detention--in "the dark time," in "the season of oppression," the "carnival of misery" ( This Is the Dark Time My Love, POS, p. 42). While it is less celebrated than its companion pieces, few poems in the collection surpass "I Clench My Fist" in this regard. The very intensity of feeling and statement owes its very essence to the forces of repression and exploitation against which the poet rebels. British colonialism represents social chaos in the immediate, Guyanese context, and in the broader, global context, the fragmentation of humanity between the oppressor and the powerless, the haves and the have-nots. The confrontation between colonizer and colonial rebel is therefore an allegory of a divided universe, the microcosm of historical patterns of chaos and conflict. Conversely, the poet's reaction, as artist-activist,to this chaos amounts to a harmonizing, creative power, the transforming power of the imagination. The defiant act of clenching the fist in the face of British weapons and political power suggests a compact wholeness as well as creative energy which contrasts with the prevailing chaos, and it is synonymous with the harmonizing patterns of poetic art itself ( "I sing my song of FREEDOM!" [ "I Clench My Fist," Poems of Resistance, p. 41]). Finally, the thematic progression within the poem itself, from images of fragmentation and conflict to the vision of a powerful, harmonizing energy, is in itself a structural or formal emphasis on that sense of movement--historical progression or inevitability--which is always so integral to Carter's revolutionist vision.
On the whole, works like "I Clench My Fist" exemplify Carter's protest poetry at its best. The underlying dialectic is compact, limpid, and consistent. The dialectic statement is tightly controlled through a disciplined, highly economic use of language and sense of form; and as a result, the poetic form itself becomes the imaginative microcosm of that moral wholeness and social unity which the poetry envisions. Given this tightly integrated schema, it becomes clear that "poems of resistance" are not simply poems about political resistance: they are acts of resistance. This implies an aesthetic that has been rather rare in the generally conservative context of Anglophone Caribbean literature. It was not to be aired in any significant sense, in any Caribbean language area, until the successful Cuban revolution began to define its own revolutionary aestheticsduring the 1960s: the only valid revolutionary art is that which is committed to, and a part of, the revolution; writing about the revolution is not enough, the writer must be an active participant in the revolution. Or to phrase this ideal in Carter's poetic language, the poet must not simply write about resistance, he himself and his poetry must be directly involved in resistance.
However, notwithstanding this kind of analogy, and notwithstanding the power of Carter's own rhetoric of change, it is important to recognize the substantial limitations of his revolutionism. These limitations are both external and internal. Externally, Carter has lived and written in a political and social context in which the idea of change has always been sharply delineated in nonrevolutionist terms. The rhetoric of rebellion or "revolution" in the English-language Caribbean of the 1950s and 1960s seldom encompassed fundamental (i.e., genuinely revolutionary) changes in the social fabric. "Resistance" as such was conceived and fashioned in relation to the British colonial order and its associated bureaucracy. In other words, resistance was the movement of a bourgeois nationalism, which would replace the colonial overlord with nationalist leaders and political structures, which would leave the social and economic order relatively unchanged. Neither has radical revolutionism demonstrated significant grass-roots appeal in the English Caribbean--a fact which needs to be borne in mind when one is tempted to blame the failures of the Guyanese promise on the demonstrable and alleged sins of the Forbes Burnham regime. The electoral rejection of "democratic socialism" in Jamaica during the early 1980s is another example of this limitation, especially when one remembers the definite, built-in limitations of Michael Manley's democratic socialism as a revolutionist principle. And in retrospect, the recent collapse of the New Jewel Movement in Grenada, even before the inevitable U.S. intervention, suggests that beyond the personal popularity of Maurice Bishop the New Jewel Movement, as revolutionary ideology, was less deeply rooted than its most ardent supporters seemed to have imagined.
It is necessary to emphasize this historical and social context because these are the broader circumstances which go beyond Guyana's immediate boundaries and which explain, in part, the long-term sense of futility that now envelops Carter's revolutionist poetry, especially in retrospect. The limited impact and relevance of his revolutionary themes reflect the limited capacities of his society for the idea of fundamental change. This, in turn, leads to the internal limits of Carter's revolutionism itself. Poems like "University of Hunger," "Cartman of Dayclean," and "I Come from the Nigger Yard" reverberate with the passions, even violent potential, of the dispossessed. But there is really no substantial evidence, even in these works, of a revolutionary vision that goes beyond the immediate anti-colonial nationalism of "I Clench My Fist." The ferocity with which the poet assaults an entrenched (colonial) status quo undoubtedly continues to exert a powerful appeal to present readers who dream of "resistance" to the neocolonial establishment which succeeded the British colonizers. But this ought not to obscure the clearly limited implications of Carter's original vision.
While the scope of the revolutionary vision is circumscribed, so is the poet's realism. The poet's passionate commitment to change of sorts is not really counterbalanced by a realistic awareness of the substantial barriers to significant change. In these earlier poems of "resistance," from the first collection to Poems of Shape and Motion ( 1955), technical polish and thematic coherence go hand in hand with what, on the whole, is a relatively limited emotional range or appeal--limited, that is, by an absence of complex self-awareness vis-a-vis the limits of his own vision and of his society's capacity for change. It is not surprising that, when those social limitations were made painfully manifest in subsequent years, Carter's poetry seems to have retreated into a state of shock from which it has never really recovered.
On the whole, the assessment of Carter's overtly "revolutionary" or "committed" poems leads to a historically significant, albeit unintended, irony: his real achievement as a poet of resistance is, in the final analysis, an exclusively aesthetic one, rather than the effective political-aesthetic synthesis that is envisaged and structurally symbolized by his poetry. That is, we can always admire the consistent coherence of thematic statement, the telling integration of formal structure and theme, the striking tension between intense feeling and the spare, tightly disciplined language; and throughout all of this we can admire the skill with which the poet weaves his complex patterns of imagistic and structural variations on the fundamental theme of change-as-creation. But that theme is often less profound or far-reaching than it may sometimes sound.
The poems since Guyana's independence are, collectively, an implicit admission of the earlier limitations. A somber silence broods over the post-independence poems first published in Poems of Succession. Silence as speechlessness and paralysis is the dominant motif here, in contrast to the defiant energies and perpetual movement in the earlier works. Here silence and inactivity suggest that history moves, not toward inevitable change and creation, but in repetitive, predictable cycles. Indeed, this kind of silence is the main topic of poems like "A Mouth Is Always Muzzled," "Even As the Ants Are," "In the When Time," and "Fragment of Memory." These works also demonstrate that despite the changes in mood and historical circumstances, the older Carter still commands the talents for striking, arresting poetry. The brooding silence of these poems is not the silence of a lost idealism, or of a crippled imagination. Far from it, he manages to develop his themes of silence and futility through "confessional" modes of private experience, or even through abstract statements, communicating a powerful sense of repression and stasis in his society while avoiding explicit political protest. Both the explicit theme of silence and the suggestive absence of overt protest in themselves become rhetorical symptoms of his real, but implied, subject. As in his earlier works, the better poems in this later collection demonstrate his characteristic ability to develop form as statement.
This highly suggestive silence continues in his most recent collection, Poems of Affinity: 1978-1980. The disillusionment with "history" is more pronounced, and we are left with only a quiet despair in the face of history's relentless repetitiveness. It is the image of death, not creation, that dominates "PlayingMilitia" Militia" where the uniform sleeves droop "like the wet feathers of a crow's wing / over secret carrion" [ Poems of Affinity, p. 17]). And in "For Cesar Vallejo ii" the decay is everywhere. Clearly, he still remains the poet of passionate commitment. Where that commitment will lead his future poetry depends as much upon Carter's world as it does on himself.
Edward Brathwaite "Resistance Poems: The Voice of Martin Carter" ( 1977) is one of the more comprehensive studies of Martin Carter's poetry thus far. The critic examines all the major publications up to the mid-1970s, with special emphasis on Carter as the voice of revolutionary change. Briefer, more general comments also appear in Brown, West Indian Poetry ( 1977), and Herdeck, Caribbean Writers ( 1979).
Hill of Fire Glows Red. Miniature Poet Series. Georgetown: Mater Printer, 1951.
To a Dead Slave. Georgetown: Author, 1951.
The Hidden Man. Georgetown: Author, 1952.
The Kind Eagle. Georgetown: Author, 1952.
Returning. Georgetown: Author, 1953.
Poems of Resistance. London: Lawrence, Wishart, 1954; Georgetown: Guyana Release, 1979.
Poems of Shape and Motion. Georgetown: Author, 1955.
Conversations. Georgetown: Author, 1961.
Jail Me Quickly. Georgetown: Author, 1963.
Poems of Succession. London: New Beacon Books, 1977.
Poems of Affinity: 1978-1980. Georgetown: Release, 1980.
LLOYD W. BROWN
Sir Lionel Luckhoo, the flamboyant Guyanese barrister who has died aged 83, was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most successful advocate, with 245 consecutive successful defenses in murder cases.
Known as the "Perry Mason of the Caribbean", Luckhoo was also a highly respected High Commissioner in London for both Guyana and Barbados, a candidate for prime minister, and later in life a globe-trotting evangelical preacher, founder of the Luckhoo Mission in Dallas, Texas.
Lionel Alfred Luckhoo was born at New Amsterdam, British Guiana, on March 2 1914, the second of three sons. His Indian grandfather, Lokhooa, had been "recruited" to work on a sugar plantation in British Guiana while sightseeing as a boy with his two brothers at Lucknow, in 1859. The recruiter painted a bright picture of the prospects in a strange land called "Damra Tapu" (Demerara, a province in British Guiana), where in five years they could make a fortune, before returning home.
Lokhooa and his brothers, aged 13, 11 and seven, crossed the Indian and Pacific oceans aboard the Victor Emanuel, and were assigned to a sugar plantation as indentured labor. Lokhooa converted to Christianity, thereafter calling himself Moses Luckhoo. When, after years of hard work, he had saved enough to buy his way out of his indentures, he qualified as an interpreter. He went on to open several provision stores, eventually becoming one of New Amsterdam's richest merchants.
Lionel's father, Edward Alfred, one of Mosesâ six sons, became the first East Indian solicitor in the colony in 1899, and later Mayor of New Amsterdam.
Young Lionel was educated at Queen's College, Georgetown, before coming to London to study Medicine at St Thomas's Hospital. Realizing that he could not stand the sight of blood, he switched to Law, and was called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1940. He left for home on the day of Dunkirk, to set up in legal practice with his brother as Luckhoo & Luckhoo, in Georgetown.
As his record suggests, Lionel Luckhoo was extraordinarily persuasive with juries. He was incisive in cross-examination, and got straight to the nub of a case. Between 1940 and 1985, when he finally retired, almost all his clients were acquitted at trial. The few that were not had their convictions overturned on appeal to the Privy Council.
One such case, Noor Mohamed v R (1949), remains an authority on so-called similar fact evidence. The defendant, a goldsmith, was accused of murdering the woman he lived with by causing her to take cyanide, a substance, which he used for his trade. There was no direct evidence that he had caused her to take cyanide, and some evidence that she had committed suicide.
At the trial, the prosecution led evidence that the goldsmith had previously killed his wife with cyanide on pretence that it was a cure for toothache. On appeal, Luckhoo successfully argued that the prejudicial effect of this evidence outweighed its probative value, so it had been wrongly admitted.
After independence, Luckhoo argued for keeping appeals to the Privy Council, feeling that its legitimacy could not be easily replicated in the Caribbean. He took Silk in 1954, and was appointed CBE in 1962.
During the early 1960s, Luckhoo acted for the maverick cult leader Jim Jones on a child custody case. Jones held sway over a great many Guyanese, duped by his fake healing ceremonies and seduced into adopting his free-love lifestyle. In 1978, Jones orchestrated the mass suicide of some 900 people in his commune known as Jonestown. Luckhoo later admitted that dissuading the deeply unstable Jones from committing suicide on an earlier occasion was one of his greatest regrets.
In the meantime, Luckhoo had served as a member of the State Council, 1952-53, and as Minister without Portfolio, 1954-57. He was Mayor of Georgetown in 1954, 1955, 1960 and 1961.
In the late 1950s, he stood for prime minister against the coalition led by Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham. Cheddi Jagan's Progressive People's Party appeared so pro-communist in 1953 that Britain suspended the constitution for four years and dispatched troops.
As well as being a staunch Anglophile, Luckhoo was fiercely anti-communist, but his National Labour Front expounded conservative ideas for which the country was not yet ready, and he failed to garner enough grass roots support.
When his country gained independence as Guyana in 1966, Luckhoo became its first High Commissioner in London. That autumn he also became Barbados's first High Commissioner (he was friendly with the Barbadian prime minister, Errol Barrow), thereby pioneering the cost-saving system of joint representation that has since been adopted by many small countries. His motorcar carried two flags, and not infrequently two places were laid for him at official banquets.
From 1967 to 1970, Luckhoo also represented Guyana and Barbados as ambassador in Paris, Bonn and The Hague. He was knighted in 1966, and appointed KCMG in 1969. But he gave up his diplomatic career in 1970 and entered chambers in the Temple, returning to Guyana in 1974, after the failure of his first marriage. Until retiring in 1980, he concentrated on appeal work.
Luckhoo was very attached to the Turf. The first horse that he and his brothers owned was called First Luck; it went on to win 33 races in Guyana and Trinidad, financing a string of 10 horses. He later had several in training in England with the late Sam Hall, one of which, Philodendron, won the Liverpool Summer Cup in 1960. He was a regular attender of Royal Ascot, and in 1960 published The Fitzluck Theory of Breeding Racehorses in the American Blood Horse magazine.
Luckhoo was always immaculately attired, and had a short, sharp step and gait. Everything was done in a slightly hurried way. He was a brilliant off-the-cuff speaker, and an accomplished magician, joining the Magic Circle.
He had always been a Christian, but in later years he became, as he put it, "an ambassador for Jesus". He founded his mission in 1980, preached around the world, and wrote pamphlets with such titles as Dear Atheist and God is Love.
Luckhoo married, first (dissolved 1972), Sheila Chamberlin; they had two sons and three daughters, who survive him, with his second wife, Jeannie.
(CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana)
15 December 1997
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IT SEEMS that some gangs are making a determined effort to extend their activities across the country and to terrorise the citizens and businesses.
This situation cannot be tolerated and it is evident that these people are very well organised and have been provided with much resources.
A heavily-armed gang carrying out an attack on a gas station at Agricola, resulting in the death of three armed private security personnel responding with others to a call for help is a serious situation.
According to one media, the police arrived long after the gunmen had made good their escape.
Now, it is reasonable to assume that the private security service and others would have alerted the police as well, so why did they, reportedly, take so long to respond, and apparently, did not set up roadblocks in the area to try and snare the gang, with the help of the army?
That such a large body of men could move around with such a large arsenal of arms, without being challenged or detected at roadblocks, or escaping from the scene of the crime, again without being challenged, calls for an investigation and report to higher authorities.
The citizenry is in dismay over this and other armed attacks, apparently with impunity, and our law enforcement agencies must give some account to the public, and take action to be more responsive to such crimes.
THE body of a 20-year-old mother, Onika Greene, was discovered yesterday in a drain alongside the De Kinderen main road, West Coast Demerara, and Police detained a close acquaintance for questioning.
The distraught mother of Onika, Ms Coreen Douglas, who lives at Met-en-Meerzorg, also on the West Coast Demerara, told the Guyana Chronicle her daughter visited her on Saturday.
She said that at about 18:30 h, she left for home where she resided with her reputed husband and their two-year-old son.
After going home, she apparently left in the night to go to Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo, her mother said.
Douglas said her daughter’s reputed husband visited her home Sundayafternoon, saying he did not where Greene was and she had not returned to their home.
However, yesterday at about 11:00 h, she said she received the news at the Uitvlugt/Leonora sugar estate where she works, that Alleyne’s body had been found in a clump of bushes at De Kinderen.
She said that by the time she got there, Police had removed the body.
She said she learnt that her daughter’s face and hands were swollen.
Police said Alleyne’s body was found half-naked at around 10:00 h and a post mortem examination will be performed tomorrow.
Her two-year-old son, Tyrese Ferrier, was yesterday with Douglas.
The deadly onslaught has left the country in shock.
Among those killed were three Supernumerary Constables attached to a security firm, two pensioners and a senior employee of the Office of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC). The two other persons killed were the operator of an Internet call shop and a young man driving on the road outside the gas station.
Dead are Loris Semple, 33, of #28 Village, West Coast Berbice and 123 Friendship Village, East Coast Demerara; Cedric Dummett, 26, of 8 Public Road Victoria, East Coast Demerara; Sheldon Smartt, 22, of 83 Plum Park, South Sophia; Lavern Garraway-Scott, 31, of Lot 115 Caesar Street, Agricola; David Brummell, 74, of Peter’s Hall; Hannah Cameron, 73, of 40 Brutus Street, Agricola; Otis Rudder, 26, of Lot 1 Republic Road, Bagotstown (and said to be the operator of the Internet shop at Lot 40 Brutus Street, Agricola); and Cecil Duncan, 26, of 143 Da Silva Street, Kitty, Georgetown.
The three men died before receiving medical attention at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation where they were subsequently rushed.
The Police said one Mosberg 12-gauge shotgun and 13 live cartridges were taken away from the ranks by the gunmen. Another shotgun of similar type and 12 cartridges were left behind, Police said.
The Police said based on reports, it is suspected that during the discharge of rounds by the gunmen, “one of the fuel pumps caught afire” which scorched a motor bus, BHH 4747, which was parked in the vicinity. The blaze was extinguished by public spirited citizens and members of the Fire Service.
Eyewitnesses told this newspaper it was sheer pandemonium as the gang of gunmen began shooting indiscriminately. Residents and others said the shooting lasted for at least 20 minutes. One man said he was forced to hide under a bed behind a suitcase of clothes as the barrage of gunshots filled the air.
Witnesses said the men also fired on vehicles passing along the East Bank Demerara main road at the time.
One hundred and forty three spent shells, four warheads and 13 live rounds of various calibres were retrieved at the scene by the Police.
From all indications and based on various reports, it would seem that some of the gunmen then went to the home of Lavern Garraway-Scott and fired a number of rounds at the house before setting it alight.
The Police said this incident occurred around 23:15 h but other relatives and neighbours said it was much earlier than that.
In full view of her six-year-old daughter, Garraway-Scott was reportedly shot several times about the body before being set alight in her home at 115 Caesar Street, Agricola during a separate but seemingly related incident.
Her husband, David Scott, 40, said he was not at home at the time. Scott, who said he is the owner of the Haururuni Creek Recreational Facilities on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, told this newspaper he was returning from an “excursion” at his business place when he saw his house “on fire”.
Lavern Garraway-Scott’s husband, David Scott, 40
He said his six-year-old daughter, Damali Scott, was with her mother when the incident occurred and “saw everything”.
“My daughter was able to tell me everything that happened,” said a distraught Scott.
In an invited comment, Public Relations Officer of the M&CC, Mr Royston King, said Lavern, who had been working at the Office of the Mayor and City Council for a number of years, will be sadly missed.
“She was always committed to her desk, her work and to the council. We all will really, really miss her,” King commented.
He said at the time of her demise, Lavern held the position of Assistant Town Clerk in the Office of the Town Clerk.
Reports are that five men armed with guns went up to Garraway-Scott’s home and called out her husband’s name. The gunmen also reportedly shot a padlock on the gate, before storming the premises where they were said to have shot the woman several times and then set her home on fire. Garraway-Scott was burnt beyond recognition in the blaze. Her daughter escaped unhurt.
The Police said 16 spent shells and one live round along with a cell phone, a partly burnt black plastic coat, a pair of green army pants, a camouflage bush hat, a green sheet, a multi-coloured hammock, a green army type water bottle, one duffle bag and a pair of black socks, were found at the scene.
The room where Hannah and Brummel were killed and burnt Sunday night
About 07:30 h yesterday, acting on information received, the Police found the bodies of David Brummell and Hannah Cameron in a Brutus Street, Agricola house while the body of Otis Rudder was found behind the Agricola Primary School (aback the Brutus Street house).
This school and the nearby St Ann’s Primary were closed yesterday, following a meeting between teachers and officials from the Education Ministry.
Police said investigations revealed that a group of men armed with firearms went to the home of Hannah Cameron and enquired for Otis Rudder, who is her grandson.
This chair in the house at 40 Brutus Street, Agricola was completely destroyed by fire
“In apparent retaliation, the men shot Hannah Cameron in her head and David Brummell in his chest as well as cutting his throat. The bodies were then set on fire on a bed in the house,” the Police said yesterday.
When this newspaper visited the scene yesterday, the inside wall of the house was scorched and most of the furniture destroyed by the fire. Window panes were also shattered by the heat and several gunshot holes were evident on the building.
The body of Rudder was subsequently found behind the Agricola Primary School by school children yesterday morning.
Lt Col Wilbert Lee told the Guyana Chronicle the Police have been called in and are investigating.
He said that following the recent reported theft of ammunition and grenades from an army bunker in neighbouring Suriname, Guyana Defence Force Chief of Staff Brigadier Edward Collins ordered a check of the GDF inventory of arms and ammunition.
The check found that five pistols were missing from the storage bond in Camp Ayanganna and Lee said “we believe others may be missing” from the base in Georgetown.
“Checks are ongoing,” he said, adding that the five soldiers detained were the principal staff assigned to the storage bond.
DEADLY ATTACK: Police at the Two Brothers gas station after the killing spree. (Winston Oudkerk photo)
Investigators believe the horrors unleashed at the gas station and the chilling mowing down of security guards responding to a robbery report, was meant to send a clear message to others.
The source said the man who seemed to be leading the gang of some 15 persons who closed in on the gas station was heard to blurt out: “I want this gas station burnt down now.”
Others in the gang set the fuel pumps alight and doused gasoline on a mini-bus parked in the compound, also setting it on fire, the source said.
Three guards with the MMC Security Service were shot dead as they arrived at the scene. A driver passing on the road at the time was shot and died shortly after, and several others passing by were wounded in the gunfire.
Semple had been employed with the security service for the past three years and the other two just over a year, a company official said yesterday.
They were the first employees of the security company to have died under such circumstances, he said.
The official told the Guyana Chronicle the three men were responding to a call from the cashier at the fuel station around 22:00 h, after it came under attack from the heavily-armed gang.
He said the gang apparently did not realise the cashier was inside the office, as the type of glass enclosing it does not allow visibility from the outside.
He explained that on arrival, the patrol drove straight into the gas station because they took the gang for the `Black Clothes Police’ who had arrived before them as they were attired in similar outfits.
However, when the security guards left their vehicle, they were greeted with a blaze of gunfire, each one of them receiving several gunshots, the official said.
He added that about 500 spent shells were left at the scene.
The funeral expenses of the dead employees will be covered by the company, the official said. He added that there was no formal agreement on this issue, but the company has decided that since the men died on duty, it will cover the funeral expenses from a humanitarian standpoint.
In addition, their beneficiaries will receive cash as they were insured by the company, the official said.
As shocked citizens tried to comprehend the chilling attacks by a band of gunmen, Mr Felix said investigators have also not ruled out a connection between the killings and what he called “a staged kidnapping” last week involving the four-year-old daughter of an ex-Policeman.
He told reporters a high-level Police team has been assembled to investigate the brazen and deadly attacks by men with high-powered and sophisticated weapons in the adjoining villages of Eccles and Agricola, East Bank Demerara.
The investigators, he said, are looking at, among several other things, a possible connection with the drama on Sunday when a trawler and two fibre-glass super-fast escort boats were nabbed by the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard resulting in 11 persons, including a popular businessman, being arrested and detained by the Police.
“We might feel that (Sunday) night’s shooting might have something to do with the seizure of the trawler…it is one of the possible angles, but not the only angle,” the Police Commissioner told a news conference at Police headquarters in Georgetown.
“We are not restricting ourselves to one specific area but it is possible, very possible, that the seizure of the trawler and the arrest of individuals yesterday (Sunday) may have activated the intensity of the environment which we experienced last night (Sunday night)…It just may have.”
Assuring that the investigation into the Sunday night massacre will go as “far and wide as it can go”, Felix said that based on the investigation and the review he had yesterday morning, he was a bit scared to talk about “kidnapping” from the investigations before him. “…and that’s telling you something,” he added.
“We must believe little that we see and nothing that we hear. I don’t want to reveal the investigation as such but based on what was presented here (yesterday) morning, there are certain commonalities which we have discovered and which suggest strongly to us that…what appears to have been a kidnapping might just not be so,” Felix posited.
UNDER CURRENTS TO UNRAVEL
He, however, cautioned that the investigations have not yet been completed.
“What we are trying to do right now is to put the best possible team available under a senior officer from headquarters to lead off the investigations and outside of that, there must be a law enforcement response to armed criminal gangs in this country,” the Police Commissioner declared.
He said the nature of the Sunday night attack suggests clearly the need to start the investigation with a team of detectives who will be dedicated to probe the various issues.
“And we should not only deal with it from the top and what appeals to the eye, but there are other under currents which we need to unravel first and, in that regard, the team under a senior officer from headquarters is being assembled to start working as of now,” he added.
Felix also assured that the Police Force “will not stand idly by” and allow criminal gangs to (continue) to terrorise citizens.
He also said those who think Sunday night’s incident will not have “a strong law enforcement response should think otherwise”.
“That incident was brazen, disrespectful of the law and will not be tolerated in this country.”
“I know that persons called in at various points in time to report shootings in Agricola and I am aware, immediately, that Policemen were summoned from various locations to respond, and they did respond,” Felix defended.
“You will not have a magical appearance of Policemen if they are miles away from a scene,” he asserted.
Felix said he was aware that the various patrols around Georgetown and on the East Bank Demerara were “activated to respond” and “they did respond in quick time”.
There were unconfirmed reports that the patrols at both Providence and Ruimveldt Police stations said they were not going to move to the scene until there was back-up from patrols in Georgetown.
While noting that discussions will always be ongoing when it comes to better remuneration, the Police Commissioner pointed out that professionalism goes beyond a quarrel for pay.
“I am not aware of any such reports or any such incidents occurring at any such locations last night. (In fact) the first location I called, the officer was on his way already from Brickdam and when I called the TSU (Tactical Services Unit), they were actually on the move also,” he pointed out.
“We all recognise that the Police remuneration package could be better. But I am saying clearly that I would not entertain any nonsense from members of the Police Force claiming that they can’t respond…and if it does appear that (those unconfirmed reports) are established, then those members of the Force will be dealt with condignly because it is an act of indiscipline that I will not countenance in this organisation.”
Asked to comment on where the gunmen came from, and in which direction they disappeared after the incident, Felix said: “That is work in progress; that is part of the investigation. Where they came from we can’t be sure. Where they went we can’t be sure but the investigations must take us in that direction.”
READY TO RESPOND
Asked whether he was expecting similar attacks (soon) and whether the Force was capable of responding and handling such attacks, Felix said he was certain the criminal gang(s) “is not crazy to take us on and I hope that they will not be so crazy to take us on”.
“We are ready to respond to all criminal conduct of that sort. Maybe the situation would have been different if we had found them there (at the scene).”
What the Police did find at the scene - other than dead bodies – was a large quantity of ammunition (both spent and live) from high-powered weapons.
Among these, he said, were one hundred and three 270 x 72 spent shells.
Felix pointed out that this is not ammunition that the Force is very familiar with but it “resembles the 7.67 x 39 ammunition and we suspect that it might or may have been used in the M70”.
“All we can say is that it resembles ( the 7.67 x 39) – it is not an ammunition that we are familiar with in terms of its use in a particular firearm because I (personally) have not come across it whether in the Police or in the military,” the Police Commissioner declared.
Police also recovered from the scene - four 12-guage cartridges (live), four 22.3 ammunition (live), five 7.62 x 39 ammunition (live) and one .45 bullet (live).
Also found at the scene were sixteen 7.62 x 39 spent casing (shells) and sixteen 223 spent casings.
Police were able to retrieve what looked like two M70 or AK47 magazines and seven 7.62 x 39 ammunition from the incident at Third Street or Caesar Street, Agricola, where 31-year-old Lavern Garraway-Scott was brutally killed in front of her six-year-old daughter.
A cell phone, a partly burnt black plastic coat, a pair of green army pants, a camouflage bush hat, a green sheet, a multi-coloured hammock, a green army type water bottle, one duffle bag and a pair of black socks were also found at the scene.
Last week's kidnapping of a five-year-old girl was staged, according to Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix who said the police have an abundance of evidence to suggest this.
The commissioner was speaking at a press conference yesterday and he threw out a challenge to anyone who might want to question the theory of the kidnapping being a staged one.
Last week Wednesday the father of five-year-old Tiffany Belfield, ex-policeman Sean Belfield, had reported that the child was removed from her Kingston Nursery School by an unknown woman.
The matter was reported to the police who activated their anti-kidnapping squad. The squad worked with Belfield's wife the day after the kidnapping as the alleged kidnappers were in contact with her. They worked into the night and the next day the woman was to return to the Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters at Eve Leary to continue to work with the police. However, when she did not turn up and the police contacted her she said she was unwell. It was later that same day the police received information that the child had returned home.
Her mother, Eslyn Belfield had told this newspaper that neither she nor the child's father was at home when the child was dropped off in front of the house. While she had said she was unaware whether a ransom was paid her husband in another section of the media had said a $5M ransom was dropped off in the vicinity of the Lamaha Canal. Hours after the child was reportedly snatched the father had told this newspaper that he was offering $5M for information on his daughter's whereabouts. But even the paying of the ransom the commissioner questioned yesterday.
"I am a little scared about talking about kidnappingâ€¦ We must believe little that we see and nothing that we hear," the commissioner said philosophically when asked whether the kidnapping might be linked to Sunday night's attack on the East Bank where eight persons were killed.
"I don't want to reveal the investigation as such, but based on what has been presented here this morning (yesterday morning), there are certain commonalities which we have discovered that suggest strongly to us that there is more in the mortar than the pestle," he revealed.
"And what seems to be a kidnapping might not be a kidnapping, but the investigation is not yet completed and I will not be making any further statement," he said.
Questioned further about the fact that the police hadn't known about the ransom transaction and only learnt of the child's release after the fact, the commissioner said that his men acted in a very professional manner and conducted diligent investigations.
"And that is why we know what we know nowâ€¦ Was a ransom paid? These are questions we need to ask ourselvesâ€¦ I am saying that this matter is still under investigation we have still not completed it.
"It was a staged kidnapping; I am making a clear statement. There is an abundance of material before us which suggests that, and they can come out and attack me if they want, but what is on the ground here is firmly set," the commissioner said.
There have been some questions as to why the police were not at the home of the family as is the norm when someone is kidnapped to monitor any calls the kidnappers might make to the family.
The child's mother had said the first call they received the morning after the kidnapping was from a man who demanded the $5M and this was made on a cellular phone. A number was given for the family to make further contact with the kidnappers and this was done in the presence of the police but no negotiation for the ransom drop was made. Sources told Stabroek News that the police traced the number to a house in the city.
Police sources say it is suspected that if the kidnapping was indeed a hoax, as the commissioner said, it might have been an attempt by persons to have the police go into the village of Buxton so that a notorious wanted man could be targeted.
With eight people killed in a chilling display of violence on Sunday night when a 15-man gang ran amok in Agricola and at a gas station, the police were yesterday under pressure to come up with answers and they are mulling whether there was a link between the attack and boat seizures earlier in the day.
As myriad theories gripped the city following the bloodbath in which an elderly couple was killed and burnt to death and another woman fatally shot in the head, police are assessing whether the seizure of a trawler and the arrest of 11 persons during a high-speed chase in the Demerara River on Sunday might be connected to the butchering of eight people later that night. (See other story on page 15)
At a press conference yesterday - the first for some time - Commissioner of Police Winston Felix declared that there would be a strong law enforcement response to the incident which has sent shock waves down the spines of citizens and left the residents of Agricola uncertain as to what would happen next. He also announced that a high-level team of investigators led by a senior officer at Eve Leary has been tasked with investigating the attack and promised that there will be a law enforcement response to armed gangs operating in the country.
"The force will not stand idly by and allow criminal gangs to terrorise citizens. Those who think that last night's incident will not have strong law enforcement response should think otherwise. That incident was brazen, disrespectful of the law and will not be tolerated in this country," the Commissioner of Police declared.
Felix may have a hard time convincing the public as a similar incident in March last year in the same village of Agricola has not been solved to date. In that incident a 15-man team beheaded a known drug dealer and gunned down his 16-year-old girlfriend and another man. Gunfire lasted for over 45 minutes but there was no engagement of the gunmen by the police even though the nearest police station is just minutes away. Sunday's assault mirrored this in some ways.
Three security guards attached to the MMC Security Service: Loris Semple of Number 28 Village, West Coast Berbice; Cedric Dummett, 26, of Victoria Public Road and Sheldon Smartt, 22, of 83 Plum Park, South Sophia were on Sunday night gunned down at the Two Brothers Gas Station at Eccles by armed men dressed in black and carrying haversacks on their backs. Their terror did not end there since the gunmen later invaded Agricola where they set two houses on fire and shot and killed four persons. (See other story on page 2)
Those dead at Agricola are an elderly couple, David Brummel and Hannah Cameron, along with Cameron's grandson, Fenton Rudder. The gunmen also targeted the home of Assistant Town Clerk Lavern Scott-Garraway who was fatally shot several times and her house set on fire. Cecil Duncan of Da Silva Street, Newtown Kitty who was passing at the time in his vehicle was also shot at. He died early yesterday morning at the Georgetown Hospital.
"I can say several things, but I am cautioning myself against speculating," the Commissioner of Police responded to a question as to the possible motive for the bloodbath. He continued, "we probably might feel that Sunday night's shooting may have something to do with the boat nobody knows and I don't want to enforce that on the public right now." But when further questioned whether that was one of the angles they are looking at Felix said, yes, but not the only one. He said they are not restricting themselves to one area. "But it is possible, very possible that the seizure of the trawler and the arrest of individuals on Sunday may have activated the intensity of the violence which we experienced," the Commissioner said.
Police sources believe that the attack was in retaliation for the high drama, which occurred earlier during the day between the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard and a trawler and two speedboats belonging to Ashmin's Trading Ltd.
Police sources believe that the gunmen might have been out to take revenge for the boat seizure fiasco although they have not ruled out other motives including the alleged kidnapping of former policeman Sean Belfield's four-year-old daughter last week Wednesday. It is believed that Shiraz Ali's business, Two Brother's Gas Station, may have been the intended target and the other persons who were killed in Agricola might have had some residual connection.
The mayhem began to unfold around 10 pm on Sunday when the gunmen reportedly threw up two roadblocks: one at Houston and one at Eccles. Eyewitnesses told this newspaper that several persons were seen manning these and while some vehicles were allowed to go, others were shot at. Felix said the police had not received such reports. "I was looking out from my window and you coulda hear the gunshots them," one woman recounted. According to the woman the gunmen used tracer bullets as they lay siege to the communities for over one hour. Once the roadblocks were up about 15 men walked towards the village of Agricola, this newspaper was told. Stabroek News was told that while some of the men marched past the main access road on their way to Two Brothers Gas station others deployed on it. Residents who were liming at the time said they observed the men but were not sure what they were about until the rapid gunfire erupted in the direction of the gas station. This caused everyone who was liming at the corner to scamper into nearby houses and bush in a bid to escape.
Management of the Two Brothers Gas Station told Stabroek News that at the time of the attack four female pump attendants were on duty. According to an official who spoke to this newspaper on the condition of anonymity, the MMC guards were on a routine patrol in the area and they stopped at the gas station to put air in their tyres. The official said the guards put the air in their wheels and were conversing with the pump attendants when they came under attack.
The official said from all indications the MMC guards were allowed to pass through the gunmen's roadblock at Houston and the MMC guards were unaware that they were not policemen.
One woman told this newspaper that she saw when the gunmen came up walking - about ten of them. She noted that they were about 20 metres away from the gas station when she overheard one of them talking on his cell phone saying, "Leh we shoot up the church, the gas station, the school and every f...... thing." Once these words were uttered she said the gunmen unleashed a fusillade in the direction of the gas station shattering the Pepsi cooler and drilling holes in some of the concrete poles. The guards were then attacked with a barrage of bullets fired into their bodies as they tried to take cover. The woman said she believes the gunmen might have been taking instructions from the men who were manning the roadblocks. She said that it would appear that the gunmen at the gas station inquired whether they should shoot the guards and the orders came back that they should destroy everything.
The front wheel of the MMC vehicle was shot at rendering it immobile. While all of this was happening, the pump attendants had run into the mini mart at the gas station and secured themselves. The gunmen however made a dash behind the compound thinking that they had fled there. They searched for a few minutes and after they did not find them they returned to the front, took one of the gas pumps and sprayed gas on a bus that was parked in front of the station. They also sprayed gas on the floor of the station and lit it but it failed to ignite. Once this was done, Stabroek News understands that the gunmen headed back in the direction of Agricola where they continued to terrorise persons. It was during this period that a number of other persons were injured.
According to a statement from the police at about 10 pm on Sunday 15 heavily-armed men attacked the petrol station at Eccles and in the process shot and killed the three Supernumerary constables attached to MMC. The guards were in their pick-up PHH 8405.
According to the police statement all three men died before receiving medical attention at the Georgetown Hospital. The gunmen took one Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and 13 live cartridges from the guards. Another shotgun of similar type along with 12 cartridges was left behind, the statement added. But Managing Director of MMC, Carl Morgan said the weapon was not recovered.
Police said it is suspected that during the discharge of rounds one of the fuel pumps caught afire and scorched a bus, BHH 4747, which was parked in the vicinity. Public-spirited citizens and members of the Guyana Fire Service, the police statement added, extinguished the blaze. According to the statement, during the assault, vehicles passing along the East Bank Public Road at the time were fired upon and Duncan who was travelling in his motorcar PHH 3829 sustained injuries. He died while receiving medical attention at the Georgetown Public Hospital early yesterday morning. Additionally, police said 143 spent shells of various calibres were retrieved and four warheads and 13 live rounds of various calibres were picked up at the scene by ranks. Morgan said from the reports he had received the guards were on a patrol in the vicinity when they were summoned by one of the pump attendants who said the gas station was under attack. Being a business that is frequently robbed, Morgan said the guards responded only to be greeted with a hail of bullets. Morgan said the MMC base received a call shortly after this from a female who requested that they send another patrol as the first one was attacked and this was done. He told Stabroek News that from all reports there was mayhem in the entire area and a number of things were happening simultaneously. Owner of the gas station Shiraz Ali confirmed that they did not suffer any loss of cash. He observed that in times past his business was robbed but the bandits never tried to burn it down as they attempted to on Sunday night.
Police tapes sealed the gas station when Stabroek News visited yesterday morning.
Workers had huddled together in a corner discussing the mayhem while curious persons observed from the roadside. The dead guards' caps were on the ground. Thick blood made a pool under the vehicle whose doors were open. A part of the concrete was pockmarked by the withering gunfire, which indicated that high-powered weapons were used. Morgan was confident that the attack on the gas station was more than a robbery attempt. He concurred with Ali that in the past the robbers never showed any inclination to burn it like they did on Sunday night.
Several persons criticized the police response to Sunday's attack, some alleging that when they called certain police stations ranks bluntly told them that they did not have the sort of weapons to match the gunmen and that they were not being compensated properly. Felix in his address to the media said he was not aware of such complaints. He noted that once policemen draw pay at the end of the month they ought to do their jobs. He said he was satisfied with the response based upon the reports he received. "I was in communication with several units after being made aware of the incident and all units were in the process of going to the scene of the crime,
Felix said. He noted that the distance of the police stations from the crime scene must be taken into account since an instant response seconds after an incident occurs was unlikely. In addressing the issue of better compensation for ranks, Felix said that everyone was aware that the police remuneration package could be better but he insisted that ranks refusing to go out when summoned will not be tolerated and once it is established that this occurred on Sunday the ranks will be dealt with condignly. The Commissioner said the force was ready to respond to all criminal conduct in society arguing that the gunmen would be crazy to take on the force in any battle.
Hardbeatnews, LONDON, England, Tues. Feb. 28, 2006: Legendary Guyanese singer Sol Raye says despite his ongoing battle with cancer he will “never stop singing” and will continue work on releasing his album ‘Sol Raye Retrospective’ later this year.
Raye, a Guyanese icon who has entertained audiences on both sides of the Atlantic for nearly four decades, not only looks like Nat 'King' Cole but also sings like him. Recuperating in the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, Raye said in a recent exclusive interview that he had been fighting prostrate cancer for several years.
The disease has since spread to his stomach and he had to have a major operation last year to take out the growth. Today, he has just half a stomach. His latest bout of illness meant he was physically incapable of collecting his a recent award from the Guyana High Commission Award on February 12th but he says he “… was very honored to get the award from the government of Guyana-PPP, PNC or whoever.”
Raye, however, promised that when he gets out of the hospital, he would repay that honor with a concert at the Guyana High Commission in London.
Raye, born Dereyck Marshall Corbin, the eldest brother of PNC Leader Robert Corbin, also had a message for his countrymen. “Remember this is Guyana-the land of rivers and such glorious things. Remember the national anthem,” he stated.
Raye says he expects his retrospective album to be released in the summer on his own record label. And he added that he remains grateful and touched by all the good wishes he has received since this writer publicized his illness.
Raye also hopes to be back home in West London very soon. His last song has not yet been sung. – Hardbeatnews.com
Hardbeatnews, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tues. Feb. 28, 2006: Eight Guyanese nationals, including three security officers, were on Sunday night brutally murdered by more than a dozen gunmen looking to rob an East Bank Demerara gas station.
Dead, according to Guyana police, are Loris Semple; Cedric Dummett; Sheldon Smartt; Lavern Garraway-Scott; David Brummell; Hannah Cameron; Otis Rudder and Cecil Duncan. Some 12 are apparently wounded.
Police claim that the massacre began about 10 p.m. Sunday night when about 15 heavily armed men attacked the Two Brothers Gas Station at Eccles and fatally shot the three constables attached to the MMC security service.
The Guyana Chronicle quoted eyewitnesses as saying the gunmen “began shooting indiscriminately … for at least 20 minutes.” They also reportedly shot at vehicles passing along the main road.
The gunmen then also apparently went to the home of Garraway-Scott and fired a number of rounds at the house in Agricola before setting it alight. Garraway-Scott burnt to death. They also then allegedly moved on to another house in the neighborhood, at Lot 40 Brutus Street, and shot and killed the three occupants - Brummell Cameron and Rudder. Their bodies were found yesterday behind the Agricola Primary School.
A Mosberg 12-gauge shotgun and 13 live cartridges were also reportedly grabbed by the gunmen while another shotgun of a similar type along with 143 spent shells, four warheads and 13 live rounds of ammunition were left behind, police yesterday said. Ironically, the gunmen reportedly only escaped with US$40.
Police Commissioner Winston Felix yesterday claimed the shooting may be linked to a high-speed chase between the Coast Guard and three vessels on the Demerara River Sunday. A trawler and two fibre-glass super-fast escort boats were nabbed by the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard Sunday. Eleven people, including a store owner, are under arrest.
Felix, whose force has yet to nab the killers of an American contractor and a talk show host, who were both killed in Guyana recently, vowed yesterday that the investigation into the Sunday night slaughter will go as “far and wide as it can go.”
Guyana, like many Caribbean countries, continues to battle a crime wave, which many blame on illegal drug smuggling and deportees to the region. – Hardbeatnews.com
Alliance for Change Chairman Raphael Trotman is passionate about Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation and a bill that seeks to bring this about, a labour of love for the AFC, is to be tabled as a private member's bill.
"Our main duty is to bring this bill to the place of the peoples' representatives and we would like to see how the peoples' representatives react to a bill that is going to open up press freedoms and so on," Trotman said in an interview with Stabroek News on Monday.
AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan has presented the bill to the Clerk of the National Assembly. Ramjattan, who was expelled from the PPP/C and another AFC principal Sheila Holder, who formerly represented GAP/WPA, have refused to give up their seats in Parliament. And while Trotman acknowledged that it was an issue, which was not going to go away completely, he said the AFC was continuing to review it. "We continue to act in what we think is best for the movement and what the people want," he said.
While Ramjattan's absence is noticeable in Parliament at many sittings, Trotman said he was pressing forward "with the work that we have committed to; he is seeing it [the FOI bill] through. That bill is before the Clerk's office to be sent to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel Office for review."
Trotman, who had resigned from the PNCR, had also held on to his seat in the House for a while before withdrawing as he had promised he would do. He said the withdrawal of the others would be in keeping with their internal arrangements to pilot the bill through Parliament and in time they would follow suit.
Told that there were other MPs in Parliament and within the opposition who could have piloted the FOI bill, such as ROAR MP Ravi Dev, who some feel the government and the main opposition would have been more inclined to support, Trotman said that argument was "disingenuous".
He said no other MP had ever proposed, offered to draft, or had been involved in drafting such a bill. "This is our labour. We have also received assistance from the Human Rights Initiative. They are in contact with us two or three times a week. So we have a commitment. It is a private member's bill. It is something we feel strongly about. While we feel others would take it through we recognise that the others have never in the past identified it as an issue that they wanted," he said.
Asked whether he thought an "AFC" bill would get the required support for enactment, Trotman said, "I'll tell you what is important. What is important is that a FOI bill sees the light of day in Guyana. If the government is as backward enough to shoot it down...well then it just adds another nail in its coffin." If the main opposition went the same route, he said, in 2006 when the cries of corruption, nepotism and cronyism are so alive and rampant, then, its members too, would have to give an account of themselves. Asked whether the AFC drafters consulted other MPs, Trotman said some of them behaved as though the FOI bill was not needed.
Trotman added: "We have shown it to some stakeholders in civil society. It is posted on our website. When we get a signal from the Speaker that it is ready, we intend to hold public symposia on the issue. We are going through the various stages."
Asked whether the AFC would support the call for a boycott of the general elections due by August 4 this year, he noted that the party had already said it was not in favour of a boycott based on ethnic grounds which appealed to one ethnic group in society only. "That would only reinforce the division rather than help the situation," he said.
He said the African Cultural Development Association (ACDA), which put forward the notion in the first instance, should have called for a national boycott, which would have given it credibility, rather than appeal to a section of society.
While he could appreciate where ACDA was coming from and the frustration it was expressing given the fact that after three successive elections the lot of Guyanese of African descent has not improved, he said there was a growing sense that the utility of political parties and elections was lost and what was played out at elections was an ethnic census. "We share ACDA's concerns and sympathise but believe that true power could be shown at the elections rather than staying away from it," he added.
Asked about alliances and why the AFC was not part of the Guyana Third Force Platform, Trotman said the platform was launched before the AFC was, so it could not have been part of the initial process. However, he said, after the AFC was launched a series of meetings were held between the AFC and the GTF; the last one was in December when the GTF members asked for a postponement of the talks because of an internal issue they wanted to resolve. He believed the internal issue had to do with GAP Leader Paul Hardy leaving the platform.
He said when he last spoke with Vision Guyana Leader and member of the GTF platform Peter Ramsaroop at a Miami airport, Ramsaroop confirmed there would be no further meetings between the GTF and the AFC since the notion of what the GTF stood for was lost.
Trotman said it was not a case where the AFC refused to be a part of the GTF and while some had objections to the AFC coming on board until Ramjattan and Holder had left Parliament, it was not seen as a stumbling block to discussions.
But since the GTF platform has more or less collapsed, Trotman said, the AFC has been making itself available for political unions or collaborative efforts. The AFC has had talks with the Justice For All Party (JFAP), GAP, ROAR and the Unity Party. "All are led by persons and have persons within who are making or could make a contribution to Guyana," he said.
Asked whether the AFC was courting these political parties to join the movement, he said the ideal was to have everybody under one banner but barring that the next best thing would be to have a working relationship for a common purpose with a preagreed agenda should they get into Parliament.
But isn't that going back to the GTF platform set up? Trotman replied that even though the third force concept came from Ramjattan and himself about two years "predating Peter Ramsaroop's platform" they never claimed ownership of it. "We don't say we have copyright for it. At the end of the day, the most important thing is a working relationship of third, middle, or, centrist parties, which do not cleave to the two major parties."
He said all the political parties that stand in the middle and are prepared to offer themselves as an alternative to the PPP/C and the PNCR would be friends of the AFC in the preelections period. In the postelections scenario, he said, the AFC would have to work with them all.
"We are not out to destroy the PPP or the PNCR," he said. "We are out to change the political system so much so that if at the end of this exercise the PNCR and the PPP/C collate, or start to speak to each other, we would have been successful. We intend to create space between them. It is for the people to decide how wide that space would be in terms of how many seats they are going to give us. Both parties have people who are quite worthy."
On current engagements, he said the AFC was enthused with the way discussions were going and were moving to formal talks. However, he said the fight was not for one group only and they could either go as a union or as groups within a given set of rules.
In terms of preparations for the elections, he said that apart from administrative matters, the AFC was benefiting from the advice of some external campaign strategists.
To date, he said, outreach programmes have had positive results and have penetrated traditional PPP/C or PNC strongholds. These include some support in the Corentyne, West Coast Berbice and sections of the community in Essequibo, Pomeroon, Port Kaituma, Mabaruma and the North Rupununi. He said the support was encouraging but there was need to consolidate it.
On the remarks by PPP General Secretary Donald Ramotar that the upcoming elections would be a contest between the PPP/C and the PNCR with no space for the smaller parties as they have created no impact, Trotman said he disagreed based on surveys and meeting with the people. He said people would either reject the third force change concept or accept it all together.
Stating that Ramotar would be proven wrong, he said he was aware that the PPP/C continued to pay keen interest to the AFC's activities and was worried. Even the Bisram opinion poll showed that the PPP/C was not likely to get the 51% of votes required to form the government, he said.
To charges that the AFC was bringing nothing new to the political stage, Trotman said the AFC was going to push the issue of healing and reconciliation, atonement and forgiveness and call on the people to do likewise and put aside grievances and race hate. Already, he said, leaders in Buxton have asked the AFC to help heal relationships with Annandale and the process has begun.
Three guards attached to the MMC Security Service were killed last night in a shoot-out with bandits during a robbery attempt at the Two Brothers gas station at Eccles on the East Bank of Demerara and several passers-by were injured.
Dead are Sheldon Smart, 26, of Sophia; Laurie Semple, 31, of Church of God Road, Buxton, East Coast Demerara (ECD), and Cedric Dummett, 27, of Victoria, ECD all employees of the MMC security firm.
Those hospitalised are Basdeo Dolly, 27; Shivwattie Sankar, 35, both of 52 Public Road, Herstelling; Simone Savory, 17; Stacy Chinapen, 21 both of 134 Sheriff Street, Campbellville; Jason Thomas, 18, of 24 Old Road Eccles, East Bank Demerara and Cecil Longhorn, 26 of 142 Da Silva Street, Newtown Kitty. All the injured, except Sankar, are said to be in serious conditions. The bandits also started a fire at the gas station and in nearby Agricola a building caught afire allegedly with one person in it. It was unclear if this latter incident was related to the attempted robbery. Officials at the security firm told Stabroek News this morning that the MMC guards were responding to a robbery call from the gas station when they were ambushed.
It is understood that more than one vehicle belonging to the firm responded but the vehicle with the three men arrived first on the scene and the bandits opened fire on them. Their colleagues said when they finally got to the scene all three men were dead and according to hospital sources they received multiple gunshot wounds. When Stabroek News visited the MCC office at Happy Acres, ECD this morning a number of shocked colleagues of the men had assembled in front of the office discussing their shocking deaths.
Stabroek News understands when the shots were fired mini bus, BHH 7135 was caught in the crossfire and Dolly and Sankar were in the back seat of the bus when bullets entered through the window hitting them. The driver of the minibus took the two to the hospital at around 10:15 pm.
And another man, a passer-by in a car, PHH 3829, was wounded when the gunmen robbed him and left him in a pool of blood. Up to last evening he was in the operating theatre of a city hospital. The shooting happened around 10 pm.
According to reports, at least two heavily armed men walked up to the business and attempted to rob the employees of cash. But at the same time a patrol from MMC turned up and encountered the bandits.
Eyewitnesses said that the guards walked into rapid fire from the gunmen who, Police said, were armed with high powered assault rifles with ‘tracer’ bullets.
An eyewitness told this newspaper that he saw when two men “dressed like black clothes Police” came up and went into the gas station. The person reported that when the men did not get anything from the gas station they robbed the man in the car. They then threw something on the route ‘43’ 26-seater bus which had been parked at the gas station and set it alight. Another neighbour said that she heard the shots and lost her voice from fear. She lives houses away from the gas station and heard all of the rapid fire clearly and loudly. She said that she wants to move out having endured similar shoot-outs in the area.
At the same time with the shooting, a building in Agricola was on fire and Police ranks said that a burnt body was recovered. But residents of Agricola said that the bodies of an elderly couple were found in their Brutus Street, Agricola home burnt. It is unclear whether these two incidents are related. Witnesses reported seeing the blaze of a burning building in Agricola during the time of the shooting.
Residents from as far as Georgetown and La Grange on the West Bank heard the gunfire which lasted for at least 20 minutes. One man said that as he exited a Mandir on the East Bank he saw what he believed to be a bullet fly past him. He said that he and the others with him ran back into the Mandir. A rank at the scene explained that the tracer rounds would be visible especially in the dark.
When Stabroek News arrived on the scene, there were signs of the chaos that the shoot-out wrought. Some of the gas pumps were clearly damaged and there was bullet damage. Police had cordoned off the scene and were picking up spent shells and gathering other evidence. One of the bullets penetrated the metal post that held up the streetlights in the centre of the road.
Two Brothers gas stations in several parts of the country have come under frequent attacks from bandits. The killing of three MMC guards and the wounding of passers-by is the bloodiest incident of crime in recent months. With respect to the private security services it would be the deadliest incident in recent memory.
Armed 15 member gang invade gas station
Three MMC guards slaughtered
-burn down house, set gas station afire, shoot
minibus passenger, taxi-driver
About 15 masked and heavily armed bandits slaughtered three MMC security guards and wounded a taxi driver during a brutal and brazen attack on the Two Brothers Gas Station 22:00 hrs last night.
MCC staff identified the dead as Loris Semple, of Buxton and Berbice, Sheldon Smartt of Sophia and Dummet of Victoria, East Coast Demerara.
Smartt, said to be about 30, was reportedly shot in the head, and Dummet in the stomach.
They were gunned down when they rushed to the gas station after receiving reports that the staff were under attack.
A passing taxi driver and a male mini-bus passenger were also wounded during the heavy barrage of gunfire, which lasted for about an hour.
The bandits also set fire to the gas pumps and tried to torch a bus that was parked at the filling station before fleeing the scene.
Not a single policeman could be seen in the vicinity of the gas station when the shooting was in progress.
Some ranks eventually arrived about an hour after the shooting had subsided and the bodies had been removed.
Kaieteur News understands that the gunmen
escaped with the murdered guards' pump-action shotguns.
When Kaieteur News arrived at the scene, the bodies of the murdered men lay sprawled on the ground, while some of their colleagues who arrived after the shooting wept hysterically at the sight of their slain friends.
Kaieteur News understands that at around 22:00 hrs, about 15 masked men, dressed in black clothing and armed with assault rifles, stormed the Two Brothers Filling Station.
The employees immediately sought refuge in the gas station outlet, while the gunmen began shooting indiscriminately, also setting fire to one of the fuel pumps.
Semple, Dummet and Smartt arrived at the scene while the shooting was still in progress, and were immediately attacked by the gunmen.
All three were shot at close range.
Kaieteur News arrived when the shooting was still in progress and observed two other MCC guards fleeing for their lives.
Many persons passing in vehicles while the shooting was still in progress narrowly escaped injury. Others were not so lucky.
A man who was traveling in a bus with his wife was shot after the bus driver stopped near Agricola to put off some passengers.
Although the man said that he had been wounded, persons in the bus assumed he was joking, until he collapsed against his wife.
The driver eventually took him to hospital. Passers-by also took the taxi driver who was shot to the hospital.
Basil Fitzherbert Butcher (born September 3, 1933, Port Mourant, British Guiana (now Guyana)) is a former West Indian cricketer who played in 44 Tests from 1958 to 1969. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1970.
A supple, wristy, resolute batsman, Basil Butcher became a consistently reliable performer at No. 4 or 5 in the West Indies order. In his first Test series, against India in 1958-59, he made 486 runs at 69.42, but had a chequered career thereafter, until the 1963 tour of England, when he made 383 runs in eight completed innings, including 133 out of 229 in the memorable draw at Lord's. During an interval in that match he opened a letter which advised him that (against a background of civil war) his wife had had a miscarriage back home in Guyana. Very upset, Butcher continued to play a solid and masterly innings which saved his side. Two fine series against Australia led Richie Benaud to consider him the most difficult of all West Indians to get out. An occasional legspinner himself, the only Test wickets Butcher took were all in one innings - 5 for 34 (four coming in three overs) against England at Port-of-Spain in 1967-68.(Cricinfo)
Roy Clifton Fredericks (born 11 November 1942, Blairmont, British Guiana, died 5 September 2000, New York, USA) was a West Indian cricketer who played from 1968 to 1977. He was an opening batsman for the West Indies in both Test cricket and one day cricket, and made 4334 in a career spanning only nine years. ODI's were not very popular in Fredericks time, and subsequently he only appeared in 12 matches, making 311 runs.
At the county level, he represented Glamorgan in English domestic cricket and, at the national level, British Guiana and Guyana. He also represented the West Indies. He emerged as a batsman who solved the West Indian selectors dilemma about a reliable opening partnership that was settled by himself and Gordon Greenidge in the mid-1970s. He was an aggressive batsman who liked to counterattack fast bowlers, but also was capable as a traditional accumulator of runs also. His highest innings score was 169 against Australia. Fredericks was Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1974.(Wikipedia)
Lancelot Richard Gibbs (born 29 September 1934 in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana) was a West Indies cricketer, one of the most successful spin bowlers in Test cricket history. He took 309 Test wickets, only the second player (after Fred Trueman) to pass 300, the first spinner to pass that milestone, and had an exceptional economy rate of under two runs per over. He was, however, a very poor batsman, who never made a half-century in first-class cricket.
Gibbs made his first-class debut in 1953-54, playing for British Guiana against MCC at his home ground of Bourda. In MCC's first (and indeed only) innings, he bowled Denis Compton for 18 to leave the tourists precariously poised at 51/3. Gibbs also took the wicket of Tom Graveney - but by then a mammoth fourth-wicket partnership of 402 between Graveney and Willie Watson had propelled MCC towards an innings victory, so Gibbs did not get a second chance to bowl.
Gibbs played a few more first-class games for British Guiana over the next few years, and some good performances (including 4-68 in the final of the Quadrangular Tournament against Barbados in 1956-57) gained him selection for the West Indies side to host Pakistan the following season. He made his debut in the second Test at Port-of-Spain, taking four wickets in the match, and retained his place for the rest of the five-match series, his first five-wicket haul in first-class cricket coming when he claimed 5-80 in the fourth Test at Bourda.
He went on the tour to India in 1957-58, but played in only one Test, in which he went wicketless. The tour of Pakistan that immediately followed was a little more fruitful, with eight wickets in three games. However, it was the 1960-61 tour of Australia that was to prove a turning point in Gibbs' international career: he played only in the last three Tests, but took 19 wickets at 20.78: eight at Sydney, five at Adelaide (including a hat-trick) and six at Melbourne.
The early 1960s were Gibbs' most productive period in Test cricket, and his greatest achievements came in the 1961-62 home series against India. Over the course of five Tests he picked up 24 wickets at just 20.41 apiece, including one of the game's greatest spells of bowling at Bridgetown, where he single-handedly reduced the Indians from 149/2 to 187 all out with eight wickets in 15.3 overs at a total cost of just six runs; Gibbs' final innings return of 8-38 was his best in a Test match.
In 1963 West Indies toured England, and Gibbs had another highly successful series, taking 26 wickets at 21.30 including 5-59 and 6-98 in a ten-wicket triumph at Manchester. Further successful series followed: indeed, in eight successive series topped and tailed by the 1960-61 and 1968-69 tours to Australia, Gibbs never took fewer than 18 Test wickets and took five or more wickets in an innings on 12 occasions.
In 1967 Gibbs played for Warwickshire in the English County Championship, for whom he would continue to appear each season until 1973, although his appearances in 1969 and 1973 were reduced because of his commitments with West Indies' tours of England. In 1970, after a winter spent with South Australia, he took a career-best 8-37 against Glamorgan, but by far his most successful season in England was 1971 in which Gibbs claimed 131 first-class wickets at only 18.89, with nine five-wicket hauls. This exceptional performance gained Gibbs a Wisden Cricketer of the Year award in the following year's Almanack.
In 1973, at the age of almost 39, Gibbs made his One-Day International debut against England at Leeds as part of the Prudential Trophy tournament, taking the wicket of England captain Mike Denness. He played only two further ODIs: the first again being against England two days later at the Oval (11-4-12-1 and the wicket of John Jameson), and a single outing against Sri Lanka at Manchester in the 1975 World Cup, in which he bowled just four overs without success.
Gibbs' last Test matches were played on the tour of Australia in 1975-76. Although he played in all six Tests, and took 5-102 in the first innings of the first Test at Brisbane, his 16 wickets came at an average of over 40, the worst of his five series against these opponents. He passed the milestone of 300 Test victims at Perth by dismissing Gary Gilmour. His last Test match, and indeed his last appearance in senior cricket of any description, was at Melbourne, his 309th and final Test wicket being that - again - of Gilmour.
After his retirement from the game, Gibbs emigrated to the United States, but returned to prominence briefly in 1991 when he managed West Indies' tour to England.
Gibbs is the cousin of another great West Indies cricketer, Clive Lloyd, with whom he appeared for West Indies on a number of occasions.(Wikipedia)
Born December 15, 1966, Georgetown, Demerara, Guyana
It was March 31, 1995, West Indies v Australia, Bridgetown: the first morning of the first Test. Australia, off to a flyer, had taken three wickets for six when Cool Carl walked to the crease. Immediately Shane Warne was brought into the attack to bowl the 10th over of the series. He went round the wicket. The first ball was met yards down the pitch and deposited in the air to the long-on boundary. Down the pitch to the second, Hooper inside-edged to fine leg for four more. The third received the same treatment as the first: 12 from the first three balls. By lunch, Hooper and Brian Lara, in a memorable counter-attack, had put on precisely 100 together. That was Hooper's potential. His second Test innings brought a century in Calcutta, but all too often he failed to deliver. A mid-thirties average is a dereliction of duty for a batsman of his exquisite charms and ability. The captaincy, which he took on after a prolonged absence from the side, briefly brought out the best in him, and for two years he averaged nearer 50. But, following a disappointing World Cup in 2003, he was replaced by Lara and once more reverted to semi-retirement.(Cricinfo)
Alvin Isaac Kallicharran (born March 21, 1949) was a West Indian batsman who played from 1972 to 1981. His elegant, watchful batting style produced some substantial innings for a West Indian team very much in its formative years in the seventies. He was Wisden's Cricketer of the Year for 1973.
Kallicharran was born in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana). Though he was a talented batsman like many of his peers, Kallicharran only managed 4473 runs, but at an average of 44.43 in 66 matches, he demonstrated his capability. He was part of the 1979 team that won the Cricket World Cup. His highest innings was a score of 187 against England in the 1974 tour.
A small man, he had poise, balance, orthodoxy, and a full repertoire of strokes off either foot. He was at his best away from soft, seaming pitches, despite his successes with Warwickshire in English County cricket. Probably his finest innings, a superb knock of 158 against England, was shrouded in controversy when he was run out by Tony Greig towards the end of the first day. He attempted to join World Series Cricket, but failed, and was appointed captain of the West Indies in 1977-1978 when Clive Lloyd resigned over the Packer issue.(Wikipedia)
Rohan Bholalall Kanhai (born December 26, 1935 in Port Mourant, Berbice, British Guiana) was a West Indian batsman in the late fifties, sixties and early seventies. He is considered a cricketing legend. Kanhai featured in several great West Indian teams, which included such talent as Sir Garfield Sobers, Roy Fredericks, Lance Gibbs, and Alvin Kallicharran.
He sparkled as a specialist batsman and hit 6227 runs in only 79 matches at a robust average of 47.53. His best innings was in Calcutta, India. He scored 256 off of the Indian bowlers. He was famous for his unorthodox shots, most notably the "falling hook" shot, in which he finished his follow through lying on his back. In his county cricket career for Warwickshire, he also starred alongside Kallicharran, as well as John Jameson, and Dennis Amiss. The great Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar named his son Rohan after Kanhai, and wrote of Kanhai, "To say that he is the greatest batsman I have ever seen so far is to put it mildly."(Wikipedia)
Clive Hubert Lloyd, born 31 August 1944 in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana), is a former West Indies cricketer. He captained the West Indies between 1974 and 1985 and oversaw their rise to become the dominant Test-playing nation, a position that was only relinquished in the latter half of the 1990s. He is still one of the most successful Test captains of all time: during his captaincy the side had a run of 27 matches without defeat, which included 11 wins in succession (Viv Richards acted as captain for one of the 27 matches, against Australia at Port of Spain in 1983-84). He was the first West Indian player to earn 100 international caps.
Lloyd was a tall, powerful middle-order batsman and occasional medium-pace bowler. He scored over 7500 runs at Test level, at an average of 46.67. His scholarly appearance and slight stoop masked his obvious talent as a batsman. He wore his famous glasses due to a fight when he was young at school, which damaged his eyes. He hit 77 sixes in his Test career, which is the sixth highest number of any player. He played for his home nation of Guyana in West Indies domestic cricket, and for Lancashire (he was made captain in 1981) in England. His Test match debut came in 1966. In 1971 he was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year. He is a cousin of spin bowler Lance Gibbs.
Since retiring as a player, Lloyd has remained heavily involved in cricket, managing the West Indies in the late 1990s, and coaching and commentating. He is currently an ICC match referee.
In 2005, Lloyd offered his patronage to Major League Cricket for their inaugural Interstate Cricket Cup in the United States, to be named the Sir Clive Lloyd Cup.(Wikipedia)
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (born August 18, 1974 in Unity Village, Mahaica, Guyana) is West Indian cricketer of Indo-Guyanese ethnicity, the left-handed Chanderpaul is known for his doggedness and ability to stick on the wicket for long hours. His very unorthodox stance while batting is also highly recognised as one of the "crabbiest" techniques in international cricket, with his body almost directly facing the square leg umpire.
Chanderpaul's first notable impact on Test cricket was as being the last batting partner of Brian Lara when Lara broke the 365-not out record set by Gary Sobers in the fifth and final Test against England in 1993-94. Lara went on to make 375 before he was caught off Andrew Caddick's bowling, sharing a 219-run stand with Chanderpaul, who was left not out on 75.
Chanderpaul made his first Test century in his 19th Test match - after having scored 15 half-centuries in the preceding 18 matches. In the third of a five-Test series against India in 1996-97, he made 137 not out at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados. He also featured with his Guyanese counterpart, Ramnaresh Sarwan, making 104 in chasing a world record 418 to win in the fourth innings of the final Test match versus Australia in 2002-03.
Chanderpaul's best first class score is 303 not out versus Jamaica for Guyana, and, despite his reputation as a dogged batsman, he has also made the third fastest century in Test cricket, scoring three figures in just 67 balls at the GCC Ground Bourda, Guyana, also in the 2002-03 series against Australia.
He was named captain of the West Indies in the first Test versus South Africa in March 2005 in Guyana, after seven senior players including captain Brian Lara were dropped in a sponsorship row. Making an unbeaten 200 and a sporting declaration in the first Test, it was announced that although Lara was returning to the team for the second Test, Chanderpaul would retain the captaincy for the rest of the series. He was named to the squad of 20 for the World XI to face Australia in the Super Test in October 2005, but when the squad was cut to 14 names in August his name was not mentioned.
From humble beginnings, Chanderpaul remains one of the most recognisable faces in all of the West Indies, particularly his native Guyana, and he has come a long way from his first 50 in his first Test versus England in 1993-94 at Bourda to his current status as West Indian batting star and captain.
In 1999, while sitting in his car with a young girlfriend at Georgetown's Sea Wall, he was disturbed by a policeman. Mistaking him for a mugger, Chanderpaul shot the policeman in the hand. No charges were brought.(Wikipedia)
Ramnaresh Ronnie Sarwan (born June 23, 1980, Guyana) is a West Indian cricketer. He has been a member of the West Indian cricket team since his Test debut against Pakistan at Barbados in May 2000 when he remained unbeaten in both innings scoring 84 in the first innings. He missed out on scoring his maiden Test century against South Africa in March 2001 when he was run out for 91. His score of 78 in the 2nd Test against India at Chennai in October 2002 was his 4th innings of 75+ that couldn't be converted into a century. His maiden Test century came in his next Test series against Bangladesh at Dhaka. His next Test century came against Australia at St. John's in May 2003. His best innings (261 not out) came against Bangladesh in June 2004. He has played 50 Test matches scoring at an average of 40 runs per innings with 6 centuries and 21 fifties. He is also a part-time bowler having taken 20 wickets with best bowling figures of 4/37.
During the most recent controversy involving the bowling action of Sri Lanka great Muttiah Muralitharan, which led to an International Cricket Council investigation of most of the world's international-class bowlers, Sarwan was found to be the only bowler tested who did not transgress the Laws of Cricket regarding the straightening of the arm during delivery.(Wikipedia)
Celebrating our creative personalities
Scots, British Guiana and Andrew Watson
By Dr Vibert C. Cambridge
Sunday, September 11th 2005
The story of Andrew Watson brings us one step closer to knowing a little bit about these invisible women in Guyanese history. Andrew Watson is recognized as "the world's first black international football player" and the "world's first black football administrator."
Andrew Watson was born in Demerara, British Guiana in May 1857. His father was "a wealthy Scottish sugar planter Peter Millar and [his mother a] local girl Rose Watson." At the age of 14, he was a student at the exclusive King's College, London. Here he excelled in sport, especially football (soccer).
At the age of 19, he was a student of philosophy, mathematics, and engineering at the University of Glasgow.
The University of Glasgow's records indicate that during the period 1859-1888 there were 14 British Guianese at the university. These included John L Alexander (Medicine) and Joseph Martin Jansen (Arts) who were from Berbice. There were several medical students from Demerara and these included, John P. Watt, Hector C. Cameron, Donald Fraser, Charles Gibbon, David Elliott, Thomas Patterson and George Thorpe. Other students from British Guiana were studying Arts, Greek, and Law. These records tell us much about the fathers of the students. Many of them were medical doctors, planters, builders, merchants, and owners of estates.
The records are silent on the mothers. Inquires to the university's archives revealed that those records were not routinely kept. However, it was clear from other sources that Watson's mother was a woman of African descent.
Watson continued to excel as a footballer at the University of Glasgow. As a result he made a name for himself and established a number of unassailable records.
He played for Scotland's premier team, Queen's Park Football Club, and led the team to several Scottish Cup wins. As a result, he is recognized as the first black player to win a major football competition.
Watson represented Scotland on three occasions. In 1881, he led Scotland's team to a 6-1 victory over England. For this he is recognized as the world's first black international football captain.
Watson later joined The Corinthians. Jonathan Coates considers this to have been a "remarkable coup." He noted, "The Corinthians were regarded as one of the most exclusive gentlemen's clubs in the world, with only 50 members, yet here they were admitting a Scot of Pan-American heritage."
The story of British Guianaese-born Andrew Watson fired the imagination of football circles in the United Kingdom during the early years of the 21st century. The BBC produced a special Andrew Watson: Scotland's Lost Captain.
In concluding his article on Andrew Wastson, Coates noted, "Andrew Watson, Glaswegian aristocrat, gentleman, pioneer of amateur football and scourge of the English. And a black man to boot. How on earth were we ignorant of him for so long?"
Let us extend that remark and ask why have we been ignorant for so long about the black women who have mothered so many of Guyana's influential families.
There is virtually no record of Watson's life after football. It is known that he emigrated to Australia and that he died in Sydney.
There are many stories associated with music in Guyanese history
University of Hunger
is the university of hunger the wide waste.
is the pilgrimage of man the wide march.
The print of hunger wanders in the land.
The green tree bends above the long forgotten.
The plains of life rise up and fall in spasms.
The huts of men are fused in misery.
They come treading in the hoofmarks of the mule
passing the ancient bridge
the grave of pride
the sudden flight
the terror and the time.
They come from the distant village of the flood
passing from middle air to middle earth
in the common hours of nakedness.
Twin bars of hunger mark their metal brows
twin seasons mock them
parching drought and flood.
is the dark ones
the half sunken in the land.
is they who had no voice in the emptiness
in the unbelievable
in the shadowless.
They come treading on the mud floor of the year
mingling with dark heavy waters
and the sea sound of the eyeless flitting bat.
O long is the march of men and long is the life
and wide is the span.
is the air dust and the long distance of memory
is the hour of rain when sleepless toads are silent
is broken chimneys smokeless in the wind
is brown trash huts and jagged mounds of iron
The come in long lines toward the broad city
is the golden moon like a big coin in the sky
is the floor of bone beneath the floor of flesh
is the beak of sickness breaking on the stone
O long is the march of men, and long is the life
and wide is the span
O cold is the cruel wind blowing.
O cold is the hoe in the ground.
They come like sea birds
flapping in the wake of a boat
is the torture of sunset in purple bandages
is the powder of the fire spread like dust in the twilight
is the water melodies of white foam on wrinkled sand.
The long streets of night move up and down
baring the thighs of a woman.
and the cavern of generation.
The beating drum returns and dies away.
The bearded men fall down and go to sleep.
The cocks of dawn stand up and crow like bugles.
is they who rose early in the morning
watching the moon die in the dawn.
is they who heard the shell blow and the iron clang.
is they who had no voice in the emptiness
in the unbelievable
in the shadowless.
O long is the march of men and long is the life
and wide is the span.
(Martin Carter in Poems of Resistance,1954)
For more of Martin Carter's poetry, please visit http://martincarter.blogspot.com
(Collage courtesy of David Mozer, Ibike Cultural Tours)
Like amazon rain I dance
For the African drum becomes my soul
My tropical frame I now behold!
Jubilant and enchanted, revisiting time and times of old...
I dance the dance of an old African.
I dance the dance of an old African.
Like lightning in the rain I dance
For the Indian drum becomes my dream
And rose like a mystical streak, a vision unseen!
A vision of light, with ghungrus and sari...
I dance the dance of an old Indian.
I dance the dance of an old Indian.
Like clouds of fire I dance
For the cumfa drum speaks to me
Spiritual flames across the floor; resurrected and free!
I dance the dance of cumfa.
I dance the dance of cumfa.
Like Amazon rain - lightning and clouds of fire I dance
For the masquerade drums awake my soul
My tropical spirit, like flickering lights unfold!
I dance the dance of Guyana.
I dance the dance of Guyana.
James C. Richmond
To order James' CD entitled, 'Emerging Sound' which contains 49 poems and costs only $10.00 please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and help support one of the most talented artists and creative voices that Guyana has to offer...
Yvonne Cho-Yee (my mom !!)
Des Glasford & The Combo 7
Francis Quamina Farrier
Dave Martins & The Tradewinds
Sister Noel Menezes
Bill "Bhagee" Rogers
Olga Lopes Seales
Raj Kumari Singh
Shurland "King Fighter" Wilson
Online Caribbean/Guyanese Arts Journal
Always accepting submissions !!
1. All cassava get same skin but all nah taste same way. Though people may look alike because of their mode of dress, they are different in their ways.
2. Baby who ah cry ah house and ah door ah same thing. The same manner in which you treats your child, you should treat another's.
3. Belly full behind drunk. After you have eaten and drunken much you tend to become lazy.
4. Big tree fall down, goat bite he leaf. When a great man falls, he is no longer feared and respected.
5. Bush get ears and dutty get tongue. Sometimes you think that what you do or say nobody sees or hears, but yet your secrets are known.
6. Cat foot soft but he ah scratch bad. Some people may seem friendly and understanding but to your surprise it is not really so.
7. Cuss when yuh ah guh, nah wheh yuh ah come out. You must not curse the place that you have come from, because sometime in the future you may have to return there.
8. Contrary breeze ah mek crow and eagle light on one line. When there is trouble, enemies are sometimes forced to get together to solve problems.
9. Cow deh a pasture he nah remember seh dog and butcher deh till he see am. Sometimes when you think you are safe, danger is lurking nearby.
10. Cat a ketch rat, but he a teef he massa fish. Good and evil come from the same source.
11. Clath ah easy fuh dutty but hard fuh wash. Having achieved a goal, it is difficult to retain it.
12. Dah mouth dat man tek fuh court woman, ah de same mouth he ah tek an put she ah door. When a man is courting a woman, he is very concerned, kind and considerate, but when the novelty of the relationship is over, he finds faults and is unkind.
13. Don't mind how bird vex, it can't vex with tree. It does not matter if you are annoyed with conditions at work, you have to return to your job. Similarly, although you may be frustrated with the situation in your homeland, you may still have to return to it.
14. Dog buy rum, cow drink am, hog in sty get drunk. A matter may not concern someone, yet he or she gets involved.
15. Every rope gat two ends. Every story has two sides.
16. Every fowl feed pon he own craw. Everybody has to learn and find out what is good for himself or herself.
17. Every best friend get a next best friend. Your secrets are spread from best friend to best friend to best friend.
18. Every bush a man night time. Things seem worse than they really are when we are afraid.
19. Fish ah deh ah watah but nah ah dam tap. There are places where you can play an important part, but here are other places where you can be insignificant.
20. Fish ah play ah sea, he nah know watah ah boil fuh am. Sometimes when you are enjoying yourself, unknown to you, trouble is brewing in the background.
21. Fish and cast-net nah friend. In life it is difficult for you to relate to someone who may be unfriendly or hostile.
22. Good gubby nah ah float ah tap. Good things do not come easily.
23. Hungry nah know bam-by. If you have a need, you grasp at everything that fulfills it.
24. If yuh finger get sore, nah tek am and throw way. A member of your family may turn delinquent but that does not mean that you must disown him or refuse to help him.
25. If yuh eye nah see, yuh mouth nah must talk. You must see for yourself before you talk.
26. If cow-man pass wild meat whah mek me must pick up am. You should not go against the decision or choice of a person you feel is qualified to make the right choice.
27. It nah good to shove yuh foot in every stocking. You should not try to position yourself everywhere or in everything.
28. If me bin know always deh behind de door. We are quick to use ignorance as an excuse for our mistakes.
29. If yuh nah get wing, nah ah guh a bird sport. If you feel that you do not belong somewhere you should not go there. Also, if you are unable to do something, you should not do it.
30. If dutty ah deh ah roof tap, yuh barrel ah catch am. Children learn bad habits from their parents.
31. If oil ah float watah deh ah battam. A little evidence can tell the whole story.
32. If yuh plant plantain yuh can't reap cassava. You reap what you sow.
33. If trousers say massah teef, yuh can't doubt am. If someone close to you says something about you it is most likely true.
34. Lil finger point to de big thumb and sey nah guh. Those who are leading can see the danger ahead and are in a position to give advice.
35. Lil boy nah climb ladder to turn big man. Only time can make you what you will be.
36. Lil ah sick, big a get better. When you are small you are insignificant, but when you become big you are strong and important.
37. Man strength deh ah he hand, woman strength deh a she mouth. It is assumed that a woman talks very much, but a man talks less and quickly resorts to violence.
38. Mouth cut trousers nah ah fit Massa. What you boast about yourself may not necessarily be true.
39. Macaw ask parrot if mango ripe, he say one, one. You should not tell everything. Room should be left to others to find out some things for themselves.
40. Moon ah run till daylight ketch am. You may think that you are getting away with your misdeeds, but one day you will be caught.
41. Nah all who guh a church house ah guh fuh pray. It is not everything you must take at face value.
42. Nah tek yuh mattie eye fuh see. See for yourself and form your own conclusions instead of relying on the reports of others.
43. Nah one time a fire mek peas boil. Some things take a long time to be completed.
44. Nah because dog ah play with yuh he nah bite yuh. Some people talk kindly to you but they are capable of hurting you.
45. Nah every crab hole get crab. Things do not always turn out to be what you expect them to be.
46. Nah every big head get sense. If a person's head is big it is not necessarily brainy.
47. Nah mind how pumpkin vine run, he must dry up one day. Every life comes to an end sooner or later.
48. Nah put all two foot in river if yuh want see how he deep. Do not jump into a venture before you make sure that it is worthy.
49. Nah everything scholar know he learn from teacher. In life you learn from everybody and everything in the environment in which you find yourself.
50. Never guh a store ah night fuh buy black cloth. You must attempt something only when all aspects seem clear.
51. No good carpenter does get good wuk bench. When you are good at a job you are expected to perform just as well without the necessary tools and support.
52. Nobody want dutty powder. People will not respect you if you have a bad reputation.
53. One man money mek too much man cry. Sometimes when a person dies others will cry not so much in sorrow but in joy for the expected inheritance.
54. One kiss nah done lips. A source of enjoyment is always available where it was once found.
55. Orange yellow but yuh nah know if he sweet. You cannot judge everything from the outside.
56. Only knife ah know whah in pumpkin belly. Only after experiencing trials and crises in life can a person's true self be known.
57. Rain ah fall ah roof yuh put barrel fuh ketch am. There is an opportunity for everyone and you must try to grasp it.
58. Shame face ah feel like cent ice. When you are made to feel ashamed, you wish you could disappear from the public's eye.
59. Some pork-knockers does only clear track fuh monkey run race. Some people do all the hard work but others benefit in the end.
60. Seven years nah too much fuh wash speck off ah bird neck. Some people will never change their ways and attitude.
61. Slow fire ah boil hard cow-heel. If you persevere you can make great accomplishments.
62. Tongue nah gat teeth but he ah bite fuh true. You can hurt a person by what you say as if you literally bite him.
63. Turtle can't walk if he nah push he head outa he shell. In life you cannot make any kind of progress if you do not take risks. Also, the first steps must be made.
64. Turtle nah want trouble mek he walk with he house pon he back. You should be always prepared for disappointment or trouble.
65. Too much sit down ah bruck trousers. Lazy people wear out their pants and get nothing done.
66. The looks ah de pudding is not de taste. You should not always take things by their looks.
67. Vice nah hurt but conscience ah hurt yuh. Although you tend to be ignored for the wrong things you do, you still have your conscience to deal with.
68. Vex nah gat plaster fuh passion. Vexation will cure a problematic situation.
69. Wasteful man money ah guh like butter in de sun. If you waste your money it would be finished very quickly.
70. When man mek heself sugar he mattie ah suck am. Sometimes when you make yourself too kind your friends and associates will take advantage.
71. When yuh buy ah dutty calico yuh gat fuh wear am till it tear. When you make a decision you must be prepared to abide with the consequences.
72. When yuh play out all yuh trump cards yuh gat to lose till game done. Giving up your advantages places you in a losing position.
73. When yuh dead yuh nah sabee, and when yuh sabee yuh dead. You spend a lifetime trying to acquire knowledge and understanding, and when it seems that all has been grasped, life ends.
74. When man done suck cane he dash peeling pan ground. Some people make use of things and people and then carelessly discard them.
75. When Mumma dead family done. When a mother is around, she keeps the family together, but when she dies the members of the family tend to scatter.
76. When dog hungry he ah nyam calabash. To fill a need you make do with anything at hand.
77. When gaulding see fish he forget seh gun deh. Sometimes when you are enjoying yourself, unknown to you, trouble is brewing in the background.
78. When yuh deh in bad luck wet paper self ah cut yuh. A spell of misfortune causes our whole outlook to be bleak. The smallest incident can cause us to feel hurt.
79. When water throw away ah ground yuh can't pick am up. It is no use crying over a mishap.
80. When coconut fall from tree he can't fasten back. Some happenings cannot be changed or reversed.
81. When two big bottle deh ah table lil one nah business deh. When two powerful people meet to discuss business, everybody else must know his place.
82. Whah hurt eye does mek nose run water. When one member of the family is hurt all others feel it.
83. When you want fuh swim river yuh gat fuh plunge inside fuss. You have to take risks when you attempt new ventures.
84. Yuh tel tara and tara tell tara. When you tell a friend a secret soon everyone knows because your friend will tell another friend.
85. Youth nah ah weary but he ah fall down. When you are young you carry much burden, but as you get old you can take on only little responsibility.
86. Yuh can't chew bone with gum. If you do not have the necessary expertise or tools for a job, it is better not to bother with it.
87. Yuh can't fatten cow fuh another man butcher. When you work hard and achieve something in life, you are not happy if it is taken away by others.
88. Yuh can't drink mauby and belch beer. If you put little effort in a task you can expect very little success.
89. Yuh can't suck cane and blow whistle. Do not try to carry out two tasks at the same time.
90. Yuh gat fuh blow yuh nose where yuh stump yuh toe. Some people take out their anger on those who are nearby but have nothing to do with it.
91. One, one dutty build dam. Every little bit adds up.
92. Dance a battam watch a tap While enjoying yourself look out for things that can threaten you.
93. Never cuss bridge that you cross Be grateful for favors from anyone because someday you may need another.
94. Monkey dress e pickney till he spoil. Don't try to over do something, keep it simple.
Date of Birth (DOB): 2/23/47
Best Known for: Miss Guyana, Model, Wife of Micheal Caine
Bio: Born the eldest of four children in a Muslim East-Indian family in Guyana, Shakiraâs father died when she was only 5 years old. After graduating from high School, Shakira, influenced by her mothers talent as a dressmaker was inspired to become a fashion designer. She said in an interview with Ruby Spolia âshe made all our clothes, including the elaborate evening gowns I wore for the Miss World Contest. She had an extraordinary talent for creating exquisite designs and I would loved to have done the same." She put aside her aspirations and went to work as a secretary, her boss encouraged her to enter the Miss Guyana contest, and went as far as to mail her application and photos in. She won Miss Guyana and placed third in the 1967 Miss World competition in London at the age of 19. After her appearance in the Miss World contest worked for four years as a professional model in advertisements for Maxwell House coffee, and other companies. .She has been married to actor Michael Caine since 1973 they have a daughter, Natasha. She appeared in the film "The Man Who Would Be King," with her husband and Sean Connery and then choose to give up her showbiz career to raise her family. Today, Shakira designs exotic and runs a restaurant called 'The Canteen' at Chelsea Harbour.
(Courtesy of Caribbean Hall of Fame)
Guyana rests in a unicameral National Assembly, with 53 members chosen on the basis of proportional representation from national lists named by the political parties. An additional 12 members are elected by regional councils at the same time as the National Assembly. The elections system was revised for the 2001 elections. The president may dissolve the assembly and call new elections at any time, but no later than 5 years from its first sitting.
Executive authority is exercised by the president, who appoints and supervises the prime minister and other ministers. The president is not directly elected; each party presenting a slate of candidates for the assembly must designate in advance a leader who will become president if that party receives the largest number of votes. Any dissolution of the assembly and election of a new assembly can lead to a change in the assembly majority and consequently a change in the presidency. Only the prime minister is required to be a member of the assembly. In practice, most other ministers also are members. Those who are not serve as nonelected members, which permits them to debate but not to vote.
The highest judicial body is the Court of Appeal, headed by a chancellor of the judiciary. The second level is the High Court (Guyana), presided over by a chief justice. The chancellor and the chief justice are appointed by the president.
For administrative purposes, Guyana is divided into 10 regions, each headed by a chairman who presides over a regional democratic council. Local communities are administered by village or city councils.
Race and ideology have been the dominant political influences in Guyana. Since the split of the multiracial PPP in 1955, politics has been based more on ethnicity than on ideology. From 1964 to 1992, the PNC dominated Guyana's politics. The PNC draws its support primarily from urban Blacks, and for many years declared itself a socialist party whose purpose was to make Guyana a nonaligned socialist state, in which the party, as in communist countries, was above all other institutions.
The overwhelming majority of Guyanese of East Indian extraction traditionally have backed the People's Progressive Party, headed by the Jagans. Rice farmers and sugar workers in the rural areas form the bulk of PPP's support, but Indo-Guyanese who dominate the country's urban business community also have provided important support.
Following independence, and with the help of substantial foreign aid, social benefits were provided to a broader section of the population, specifically in health, education, housing, road and bridge building, agriculture, and rural development. However, during Forbes Burnham's last years, the government's attempts to build a socialist society caused a massive emigration of skilled workers, and, along with other economic factors, led to a significant decline in the overall quality of life in Guyana.
After Burnham's death in 1985, President Hoyte took steps to stem the economic decline, including strengthening financial controls over the parastatal corporations and supporting the private sector. In August 1987, at a PNC Congress, Hoyte announced that the PNC rejected orthodox communism and the one-party state.
As the elections scheduled for 1990 approached, Hoyte, under increasing pressure from inside and outside Guyana, gradually opened the political system. After a visit to Guyana by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1990, Hoyte made changes in the electoral rules, appointed a new chairman of the Elections Commission, and endorsed putting together new voters' lists, thus delaying the election. The elections, which finally took place in 1992, were witnessed by 100 international observers, including a group headed by Mr. Carter and another from the commonwealth of nations. Both groups issued reports saying that the elections had been free and fair, despite violent attacks on the Elections Commission building on election day and other irregularities.
Cheddi Jagan served as Premier (1957-1964) and then minority leader in Parliament until his election as President in 1992. One of the Caribbean's most charismatic and famous leaders, Jagan was a founder of the PPP which led Guyana's struggle for independence. Over the years, he moderated his Marxist-Leninist ideology. After his election as President, Jagan demonstrated a commitment to democracy, followed a pro-Western foreign policy, adopted free market policies, and pursued sustainable development for Guyana's environment. Nonetheless, he continued to press for debt relief and a new global human order in which developed countries would increase assistance to less developed nations. Jagan died on 6 March 1997, and was succeeded by Samuel A. Hinds, whom he had appointed Prime Minister. President Hinds then appointed Janet Jagan, widow of the late President, to serve as Prime Minister.
In national elections on 15 December 1997, Janet Jagan was elected President, and her PPP party won a 55% majority of seats in Parliament. She was sworn in on 19 December. Mrs. Jagan is a founding member of the PPP and was very active in party politics. She was Guyana's first female prime minister and vice president, two roles she performed concurrently before being elected to the presidency. She was also unique in being white, Jewish and a naturalized citizen (born in the United States.)
The PNC, which won just under 40% of the vote, disputed the results of the 1997 elections, alleging electoral fraud. Public demonstrations and some violence followed, until a CARICOM team came to Georgetown to broker an accord between the two parties, calling for an international audit of the election results, a redrafting of the constitution, and elections under the constitution within 3 years. Elections took place on 19 March 2001. Over 150 international observers representing six international missions witnessed the polling. The observers pronounced the elections fair and open although marred by some administrative problems.
Bharrat Jagdeo 1999 - Present
Janet Jagan 1997 - 1999
Samuel Hinds March 6, 1996 - December 19 1997
Desmond Hoyte 1985 - 1992
Forbes Burnham 1966 - 1985
Cheddi Jagan 1957 - 1964, 1992 - 1997
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Why they came
In 1834, the slaves who had been taken from Africa to the colonies of Britain were set free. In British Guiana a significant proportion of the freedmen chose to live off the fertile land and sought paid employment on an irregular basis. The resulting reduction in the labour force caused the sugar plantation owners to search for replacement workers. They obtained large numbers of labourers from Madeira (Portugal), India and China each bound by a contract of indenture. The Chinese were the smallest group of these indentured workers.
When they came
The first batch of Chinese landed in Georgetown, British Guiana in 1853, and for the next few years all were men, most being taken forcibly. To curb the excesses of this trade in human cargo the British and Chinese authorities in Canton agreed to a formal supervised recruitment process and families were encouraged to emigrate. Chinese women began arriving in 1860, but in small numbers. The period from 1860 to 1866 saw a relatively large influx of immigrants, bringing the local Chinese population to a peak of 10,022 in 1866. Subsequently only two boats arrived with Chinese immigrants, one in 1874 and the other in 1879. After this Chinese immigrants came of their own free will and at their own expense.
How they came
The 39 ships that brought the Chinese labourers were chartered by recruiting agents based in Canton, China, with the cost of shipping shared between the colony's Immigration Fund and the plantation owners. The ships travelled by way of Singapore and Cape Town, arriving at Georgetown after a journey of between 70 and 177 days.
Where they went
The distribution of Chinese labourers to the sugar plantations in the three counties of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequebo was made by the Immigration Agent-General who based his decision on the quotas submitted by the plantation owners several months previously. Families were kept together in the distribution.
Passenger lists were maintained by the Immigration Office in Georgetown and an ongoing search is in progress to locate these and other relevant documents that give the names of the Chinese immigrants. The names of some indivduals are presented in this compilation and further names will be added as they become known.
By 1900 the Chinese population in British Guiana had dwindled to 2,919 since the majority of Chinese at that time preferred to marry people from their own country but there were too few Chinese women available. Many also left the colony to seek their destiny in other countries, particularly French Guiana, Surinam and Trinidad.
(Chinese Association before the fire)
(Chinese Association Rebuilt)
(Courtesy of Trev Sue-A-Quan)
In the 1830s and into the 1850s Portugal was undergoing a series of crises - recurring civil wars between the Constitutionalists and the Absolutists, the repercussions of which were felt in Madeira. Many young men jumped at the opportunity to get out of Madeira at any cost and thus evade compulsory military service which was necessary, as Madeira was considered part of metropolitan Portugal. Also, more and more, poverty was becoming a harsh reality of life on the thirty-four mile long, fourteen mile wide island of 100,000 inhabitants. During the first decade of the nineteenth century life for the peasant, the colono who worked the land for the lord of the manor, had become even harder.
Madeira had been discovered in 1419 by Joao Goncalves Zarco under the auspices of Prince Henry, the Navigator, and by 1425 it had been settled. Prince Henry, son of Joao 1 of Portugal and patron of exploration, an unusually far-seeing and intellectual prince of his age and of many centuries beyond, was responsible for the introduction of the sugar-cane from Sicily to Madeira. By 1456 the first shipment of sugar was sent to England, and by the end of the century the burgeoning sugar industry was helping Madeira to play a prominent role in the commerce of the period. Bentley Duncan claims:
(The Madeiran capital of Funchal)
"By 1500, when Madeira had reached only its seventy-fifth year of settlement the island had become the world's greatest producer of sugar, and with its complex European and African connections, was also an important centre for shipping and navigation."
After 1570 the sugar trade began to decline as it faced competition from the cheaper and better-refined Brazilian product. Also the industry had been bedevilled by soil exhaustion, soil erosion, expensive irrigation measures, destruction by rats and insects, and ravaging by plant diseases.
As sugar declined in international trade the wine trade took precedence. Here again Madeira owed its name as a famous wine-producing country to the enterprises of Prince Henry who introduced the vine from Cyprus and Crete. The 'Madeira' of Madeira took its place with the port of Oporto on the tables of the world. It was soon discovered that the rolling of the ship added to the rich quality of the wine, and in the 17th and 18th centuries no ship left the island without a large consignment of pipes of Madeira for the West Indies and England, the largest consumers. In the 19th century wine was being shipped from Madeira to the United States, England, the West Indies, the East Indies, France, Portugal, Denmark, Cuba, Gibraltar, Newfoundland, Brazil, Africa and Russia. By the late 19th century St Petersburg, Russia, vied with London in its consumption of Madeira. But as with the sugar industry so too with the viniculture. The vines were often demolished by diseases. In 1948 the oidium ravaged the plants, and by 1853 vine cultivation was almost totally abandoned. Twenty years later, the phylloxera, which also nearly ruined the French wine industry, crippled the vines.
(Portuguese family, circa 1920s)
The Madeiran peasant, in particular, owed his existence and that of his family to his job as a sugar-worker, a vine-tender or a borracheiro (transporter of wines in skins). No wonder when catastrophe continuously hit those crops, "the peasant, descending from the sierra with his bundle of beech sticks for the beans, and occasionally stopping to rest at the turns in the paths, casts his glance at the sea horizon and, in spite of himself, begins to feel the winged impulse to disimprison himself in search of lands where life would be less harsh." (de Gouveia)
Thus the Portuguese emigrant who came to British Guiana was the inheritor of a more than 300 year legacy of sugar production and viniculture. He was also a "thrifty husbandman of no small merit" (Koebel) utilising every inch of available space of the terraced hillsides to grow peas, beans, cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, onion and a vast variety of fruits. Thus it is surprising to read in Dalton's history that agriculture was not the forte of the Portuguese! What is even more surprising is the somewhat grudging concession made to the commercial enterprise of the emigrants. Significant among the reasons given for their meteoric rise to prominence in the retail, and later the wholesale trade in British Guiana, is the over-emphasis on the "preferential treatment" accorded them by the government of the day. It was "the patronage of the European elite [which] was the spark that ignited Portuguese initiative and secured ultimate success" (Wagner). To continue this train of thought -- the government and planters regarded the Portuguese as allies against the Creoles. Yet it seemed that this European patronage boomeranged as later one is told that as the commercial power of the Portuguese grew they "became a threat to European elite's dominion."
(Portuguese shop at Parika, circa 1920s)
One is left to conjecture whether the Portuguese in British Guiana would ever have risen in the mercantile trade had not the government and planters paved the way for them. Yet an investigation of Portuguese-Madeiran history indicates a long familiarity with trade and the tricks of trade. The Madeirans were heirs to a dynamic trade system that had its roots in 14th century Portugal when Lisbon was the important Atlantic seaport carrying on a vigorous trade with the Orient and Europe. Nineteenth century sources reveal an incidence of shopkeepers on the island with writers commenting caustically on those "wily creatures" (shopkeepers) imbued with the spirit of swindling. One observer on the island wrote: "They can work like horses when they see their interest in it, but they are cunning enough to understand the grand principle of commerce, to give as little, and receive as much as possible." A plethora of shops on the island, some of which date back to earlier centuries, attests to the fact that the Madeirans were no novices in business.
The British presence in trade and industry was ubiquitous but by the eighteenth century native jealousy had become very overt. By 1826 Madeirans were strongly objecting to "the almost monopoly of trade of the island in the hands of British merchants." (Koebel) Possibly then the Madeiran merchant in British Guiana might have argued that the British merchants there owed him patronage in return for the privileges their counterparts had been receiving in Madeira for over two centuries!
The Madeiran emigrant then, did not arrive in British Guiana devoid of everything but his conical blue cloth cap, coarse jacket, short trousers and his rajao (banjo). As did all other immigrants he brought with him a background history in agriculture, a flair for business, as well as the culture and mores of his island home, a replica of the mother country, Portugal. He brought with him, not only his family, but in many cases his criado (servant), his deep faith, his love of festivals, his taste in food, the well-known pumpkin and cabbage soup, the celebrated moorish dish, cus-cus, the bacelhau (salted fish), cebolas (onions) and alho (garlic). These tastes and many other customs became incorporated into the life of the Guianese. Very early the Catholic faith was carried throughout the country and wherever the Portuguese settled churches were built; the major feast days were celebrated, as they were and still are in Madeira, with fireworks and processions. As the Register of Ships notes, throughout the nineteenth century ships plied between Madeira and British Guiana, ships chartered by the Portuguese themselves, bringing in their holds cargoes of bacelhau, cus-cus, cebolas, alho and wine, as well as new emigrants.
The success and prosperity of the Portuguese within a short span of time and out of proportion to their numbers (in a total population d 278,328 in 1891 they numbered only 12,166 or 4.3 per cent), whether due to "preferential treatment" or not, brought in its train economic jealousy among the Creole population, erupting in violence within fifteen years of their arrival in the colony. Later, when the Portuguese began to oust the European merchant in the wholesale trade, they felt the brunt of European envy which manifested itself in many subtle and overt ways.
(Portuguese businessmen, circa 1920s)
Though the whites, grudgingly acknowledged the economic supremacy of the Portuguese, at no time did they accord them social supremacy or draw them into their privileged group. This attitude undoubtedly hurt and embittered the Portuguese who considered themselves Europeans. But this did not hamper them or cripple their expectations or ambitions. Although from the very outset the local authorities, both Church and State in Madeira, tried to dissuade their countrymen from leaving the island, the emigre returning with
his earnings, on the other hand, encouraged his brethren to cross the Atlantic and find their E1 Dorado in Demerara.
Today it seems that "the winged impulse" has again overtaken the Portuguese, and many have crossed the ocean in search of another E1 Dorado - in the north. Maybe it is the resurgence of the spirit of the early Portuguese explorers who lived to the hilt the motto of their Prince: "Go farther."
(All photos published courtesy of M.N. Menezes, RSM)
by Sr M. Noel Menezes, R.S.M - Stabroek May 7th. 2000
(Reprinted courtesy of Kyk-Over-Al, December 1984)