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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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Special force needed
THE brutal murders of Minister Sawh and members of his family are distressing, but not quite so shocking to some of us who noticed a trend in the marked escalation of heinous violence in Guyana.
For some time now more and more important people are being targeted for assassination; in just one month we had one of Guyana’s more important construction engineers and now an important government minister.
One senses a plan.
Not many citizens share President Jagdeo’s recent endorsement and praise for high-ranking police officers. It is a dreadful irony that the minister’s assassination happened so soon after Mr. Jagdeo paid a marked tribute to policing in Guyana.
Everyone is asking the same thing: when will the State provide the kind of security and stability which it is under oath to do?
The government is duty bound to rid Guyana of the present rampaging criminality. If there is one thing Mr. Jagdeo’s Presidency will be remembered for is its failure to curb the gun-slingers terrorising the nation and this is unfair because Mr. Jagdeo has done many other things worth remembering. But the current banditry is leaving its mark.
That the police are either unwilling or unable to counter the criminals who execute their murders with military precision is obvious to everyone.
The answer is easy enough. Use the parliamentary majority to declare a special emergency regarding banditry and pass a resolution creating a special force to apprehend, or if faced with resistance, eliminate those who genuine intelligence shows are guilty of murdering innocent people.
The death penalty must immediately be reinstituted as an end result of a criminal trial for those who are apprehended and found guilty. During their trial the defendants would be held in a specially constructed facility run by the special force.
The law enforcement professionals in the special force would not be picked from the regulars in Guyana. These would be ex-military men from abroad who are now in private law enforcement. Such people are used broadly in other countries.
In Iraq, the United States government uses them extensively and refers to them as "civilian contractors". Each contractor in the security firm should be allowed to stay only a specific time in Guyana and the entire firm would work independently from the Police Force.
A special arrangement would be set up where police intelligence is passed first to the Ministry Of Home Affairs which in turn would provide the information to the special force. This force, of course, would also gather its own criminal intelligence but would only be allowed to act on such after permission from the responsible section of government.
President Jagdeo once said that when he asked the United States for help in terms of law enforcement he was referred by the U.S. government to such private agencies. Take a hint, Mr. President.
All this can be done above board and legally, hence my advice to use parliament to pass the necessary legislation to deal with this as a national emergency requiring an extraordinary approach.
Strong measures need to be taken now.
JUSTIN DE FREITAS
The troops should go into `The Gulf’
BURIED on page 16 of the Stabroek News of April 3rd 2006, read the headline, “Police, gunmen exchange fire at Buxton Funeral of Ryan Beckles”.
This article has far-reaching implications for the future of our country and raises a number of questions.
Firstly, given the content as it relates to current criminal activities, it should have been printed on page one of our dailies. A few years ago it would have – not now as Buxton is a well-known criminal haven
Secondly, the article stated “gunmen” attacked “heavily armed policemen” and there is “customary gunfire that accompanies the burial of gunmen”. One can assume that these “gunmen” (I prefer to call them criminals) are in possession of automatic rifles and unlimited supplies of ammunition.
Their custom of rapid gunfire at funerals indicates a continued source of ammo supplies. Where from, might one assume?
Thirdly, the fourth paragraph linked Beckles to the Agricola massacre. Ballistic tests, tracer rounds, M15 rifle, large possession of high calibre ammo and Ryan Beckles’ police like uniform. How much more evidence does the Joint Services need in their investigations into the massacre?
Finally, homes searched revealed medical supplies and army type bags, hammocks and uniforms. Whose homes were searched and can they provide information?
The failure of the Joint Services to restore peace to Buxton is moving Guyana into a dark era. The Agricola massacre (the worst killing ever recorded in recent history) is only the beginning. More people will continue to die brutally.
Army Chief Brigadier Edward Collins in an interview said that no place in Guyana is beyond the reaches of the law and the Army is authorised to enter and search anywhere.
While the Guyanese people support raids on homes around the city, random searches of civilian vehicles etc. in an effort to recover the missing weapons and bring peace back to our society, we would like Brigadier Collins to go into the area in Buxton known as The Gulf. The area where the body of Mr. Waddell was taken by gunmen, but which the police and citizens of Guyana were not allowed to enter.
Guyanese are becoming weary of public relation activities disguised as efforts to address national security issues that the police and Army are engaging in.
Mr. Winston Felix and Mr. Collins should be both held accountable for their failures in addressing the Buxton/Agricola situation. We want them to address the Buxton/Agricola situation urgently.
We want results.
Hold the faith
SECURITY in our country has remained a serious matter of concern to all Guyanese and it is becoming more and more questionable with the recent assassination of acting Minister of Agriculture Satyadeow Sawh, a hard-working and dedicated son of the soil.
It is so unfortunate that this assassination will no doubt go down as part of Guyanese history and more so the lack of credibility in our national security will remain.
It is already on the agenda of discussion among the ordinary Guyanese that security is of grave concern when a minister of government who is expected to be under the protection of the State is brutally assassinated by criminal elements.
I trust that the government will do all in its power to ensure that peace and stability remains in this beautiful country.
President Jagdeo, in his touching message to the nation after the killing, said that he will do all in his power to ensure justice prevails and those criminal elements and all their endeavours are destroyed.
It is so unfortunate that these tragic incidences come in the way at a time when there is significant development in our country.
I call on all Guyanese citizens to hold the faith and never lose confidence in this beautiful land though it may seem very hard to do.
I extend my deepest condolences to the relatives and close friends of Minister Sawh and hope that his family holds strong in these treacherous times.
The world is watching
THE midnight massacre of Guyana's personification of heroism, patriotism, loyalty, trust, dedication and sacrifice, demands the condemnation of all law-abiding and decent Guyanese.
Such an act of perfidy, cruelty and inhumanity deserves the condemnation of the whole world.
The brutal massacre of this peace-loving family, whose love and respect for all things Guyana, betrayed their trust and snuffed the bright lights that kindled their hearts. The perpetrators of this act of barbarism have not gained victory, but have darkened their own lives so much more, for they have left the world a darker place to live.
But light always prevails over darkness, for the Sawh family always carried the bright torch of life and enlightenment.
Their sacrifice is a lesson, as there is always a lesson in cruelty, frustration and separation. It is that others, whose lives have a high profile in society, must never let their guard down. It is always your first duty to be on the guard and protect yourself and your family.
The unknown is not worthy of trust.
Justice in Guyana is now on trial and the world is watching.
Or has justice fled to the brutish beasts and men have lost their reason?
It must stop
HE WAS my cousin; his Nana (his mother’s father) and my Agee (my father’s mother) were brother and sister.
My father, Mello Khan and his mother, known to us as Aunty Maudy, were first cousins, so we were blood second cousins.
He was also my friend and my colleague, and even though we supported different political causes, we were respectful to each other. His wife Sattie frequented my store and she, like Sash, was always pleasant and had a smile on her face.
In the last 15 years prior to her death, Sash’s late mom and my mom, who is now also gravely ill, became very close friends. They travelled together, visited England, Holland, and Miami and made it a point to speak with each other almost daily on the phone. Both Sash and I were aware of this development and we were pleased for the ‘old ladies’.
His senseless killing, killing of my other cousins, Julie and Rajpat and Sash’s security guard, is another on the list of senseless violent occurrences that now grip Guyana. No good can come out of this; nothing positive can come out of this kind of conduct and behaviour; they cannot be explained philosophically as necessary interactions from which some good may emerge.
It must stop. We need peace not war.
As human beings we all react differently to situations; some can pick themselves up and move on the next day. I am not of that ilk. I abhor violence and killings.
Ever since the country was gripped by senseless killings following the Mash Day jail break several years ago and the reprisal killings that daily occurred, things have not been the same for me and most Guyanese.
The killing of Jack Rambarran, a personal friend, has also affected us; the killing of Gazz Sheermohammed who is also related to me and a friend, and owner of a property next to my home has also affected us. The killing of Ronald Waddell which took place less than 100 yards away from my residence has added to the scar.
The killing of young unemployed youths and families by death squads are equally repulsive. These I have publicly condemned, but the brutal murder of a minister of government is the worst.
No one can truly express the pain that families feel when their loved ones are brutally killed. I cannot claim to know how they feel, but it affects all of us.
For me, politics can never be the same. Whatever time I have left as given to me by God or by others with insane designs will be spent working for peace, and helping the poor and disadvantaged.
My cousin, friend and colleague in Parliament, Sash, who believed in the same principles, would have endorsed this.
To Sattie, Roger, David, and all the other members of Sash’s family, please accept our love and support. I have heard over the past three days from more cousins in distant places than in the past 25 years. They all ask me to publicly say that God will guide you and bring justice to you and your family.
I think that in the Hindu tradition it is believed that the soul evolves to a different form and level.
Sash, I know yours will fly higher in that evolutionary plain.
I WISH to respond to an article titled `PNCR PERSPECTIVE’ under the caption “Jagdeo and his PPP/C Government will be illegal after 4th August, 2006
Unless…” published in the Kaieteur News of April 23, 2006.
In this article, the PNCR argues that if the elections are not held within the prescribed time, that is, on or before August 4, 2006, then the government “will become illegal and unconstitutional.”
The PNCR further contends, that for the government to retain its “legality and constitutionality”, it must extend the life of Parliament (which would stand dissolved on May 4, 2006) beyond May 4 through a constitutional amendment, the enactment of which requires a 2/3 majority in the National Assembly of which the government is not possessed.
The argument is summed up thus: “The President and his cabinet therefore cannot constitutionally hold office after 4th August, without parliamentary parties agreeing to this extension”.
I respectfully submit that the aforesaid argumentations adumbrated by the PNCR are wholly misconceived and hopelessly wrong.
Firstly, the PNCR has confused two different and disparate constitutional concepts -- the legality and constitutionality of the executive and the life of Parliament.
The PNCR’s thesis is predicated upon the fallacious constitutional hypothesis that the expiration of three months subsequent to the dissolution of Parliament, ipso facto and without more, renders the executive, comprising of the President and his cabinet, unconstitutional and illegal.
This is simply erroneous. The constitutionality and the legality of the executive is not contingent upon the life of Parliament. Our Constitution embraces the principle of the continuity of the executive.
Constitutionally, the executive remains in office until voted out of office or ordered to vacate office by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The combined effect of Articles 92 & 178 of the Constitution is that the President continues in office until another person is elected to hold that office.
Article 99 vests in the President, the executive authority of Guyana which may be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him.
I respectfully submit that these “officers” are the ministers of the government. Therefore, once the President remains in office, so do his ministers, who are merely exercising executive authority which flows from the fountain of the Presidency.
This equation does not change whether there is a Parliament in session or not.
The jurisprudential rationale for the constitutional requirement that the executive functions with a Parliament, is merely to ensure that there is public accountability, constituent representation and the capacity to enact legislation. It does not touch and concern the legality of the executive.
Therefore, whilst the eventuality of an absent Parliament may impact upon the functional capability of the executive, it does not affect its constitutional legitimacy.
MOHABIR ANIL NANDLALL
Horror with us again
MY HEART bleeds for the family of the late Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh, and for all the others of all colours and creeds who loved and served him with gratitude for his kindness.
A few years ago, when the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs was being vilified and hounded into turning in his Sheriff's badge, I often went cold at the thought of what the likely consequences would be if his enemies were allowed to succeed in their mission.
My fears have come to pass and now I fear for Guyana. We are living literally in a state of emergency.
Where are the foreign governments who vilified the person charged with responsibility for our safety because he did what they have done in the past, and continue to do, to protect their citizens?
Where are the ones who dared to brazenly order the removal of a minister of an independent sovereign state?
Good man lost
THE Guyana Government and nation have lost a good man, the Honourable Minister of Fisheries, Other Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh.
The brutal slaying of this minister, his two siblings and security guard has embedded itself in the country’s horrific history.
Many have been asking the question, why Minister Sawh? Many individuals and groups have since condemned this act while some angry citizens have been calling on the President to make a deadly move in catching and dealing with the perpetrators of this crime.
I’ve seen people like Mr. CN Sharma and some others on the television stations demanding the death penalty for the guilty criminals. What irony is this?
I am quite sure that should the President, his government or the Police Force take such action, they will be highly criticised by these same people who are now calling for it.
Shall we recall the days when the administration was harassed over accusations of `extra judicial’ killings, `Phantom Gang’ and Police `brutality’? When the human rights people were in active blasphemy?
Yes, we are mourning the death of a great man. A man who respected farmers, who fought for the rights and improvement of the life of people in rural areas and a man who believed in the work he did.
I do hope though, that this incident will arouse our support to the government and the Police Force in their endeavours to fight crime in our society, no matter what course they take.
Guyana deserves better
IN 1992 WHEN the PPP/C gained power to government, things looked up for the better.
Not only the relevant infrastructure such as schools, roads, government buildings were rehabilitated, but a new awaking process was taking place.
Not firing anyone, the Guyana Police Force which used to take years to deliver a citizen’s passport when applied for, was delivering such an item in less than a week. Some cases were reported in less than a day for renewals.
My point? The GPF has all capabilities of doing a better job than it used to do and is presently doing.
Guyana is one of the largest trans-shipment points in the Caribbean for illegal drugs, yet for the year 2004 and 2005, statistics revealed we were only able to apprehend just about 50 kilograms of cocaine, for both years. This is absurd.
Most crimes go unsolved and Police Commissioner Winston Felix’s usual excuse is the matter is under investigation and nothing else is done. No heavy police patrolling to deter crime, no sensible police raids, no nothing. Lawlessness now rules the land.
The Agriculture Minister, Satyadeow Sawh, his family and unarmed guard were slaughtered mercilessly at the hands of assassins. Why were the guards unarmed?
Commissioner Felix said their firearm licences were withdrawn mainly because, "We found persons who were not trained or licensed with firearms in the company in one or two instances...."
One or two instances! Here we have a guard service that a parliamentarian/minister of government chooses to guard and protect the lives of himself and family, and our Commissioner of Police and his colleagues found it best to disarm the entire guard service at a time such as what the country is going through?
Was this an oversight? How many "oversights" will we tolerate?
How many other guard services that protect our Guyanese people, including our politicians, parliamentarians, ministers and Presidents, have our Police Commissioner disarmed?
Why the slothful reaction from the police during the Agricola massacre? Over an hour taken to do a 10-minute response?
Upon taking office a few years ago, Commissioner Felix, when given the mantle, told the Guyanese public to hold him accountable.
After giving him many chances to prove himself, Mr. Felix has failed in his duties and has shown us that this crime situation is beyond him.
As such his services should be terminated immediately and someone more capable of carrying the mantle be given the chance to do a better job. The final straw has broken the camel's back.
The GPF is much more capable of doing a better job.
Guyana can do better and deserves better.
Amar was a hero
TWO letters which appeared in your April 22 issue have heightened the sadness which I have been feeling over the tragic death of Cadet Officer Amar Rajcumar, but, before I comment on these, please permit me to express my deepest condolences to his family and particularly his mother.
Only a mother can know the pain that another woman feels when her child is hurt or taken from her and I have grieved for this mother who lost her only son just as he was starting out in his life as an adult. It is difficult to be sure from the photograph but I think that I may have met Amar while he was stationed at the Castellani House. The young man I met stunned me with a degree of sincerity and courtesy that is rare anywhere these days.
I am sure that all of us who read of this tragedy have extended prayers towards his grieving family but it offends the spirit of this boy to use the circumstances of his death as a means of fostering more divisiveness among the living.
It is true that there are more Blacks than Indo-Guyanese in the Disciplined Services yet young Amar chose to make a career among them. This points to his genuine lack of ethnic prejudice but it should in no way be used as a reason for his death.
Brutality exists among peoples of all races and, just as paedophiles and other perverts are drawn to professions in which they will be able to exert authority over potential victims, so too are some deviant persons drawn to military organisations where the practice of brutality, even in peacetime, may be sometimes condoned or overlooked.
Amar did not die because he was an Indo-Guyanese in an organisation which is predominantly Black. To suggest, let alone state, this is to grievously wrong all the decent honourable Black officers in the military and to cause ethnic resentment and tension when collective grieving is required.
We do not know for sure how this young boy died but if it was because a brute chose to practice his craft on a decent young man, then everyone of us should be calling out loudly and clearly for all such persons to be weeded out of positions in which they have such opportunity.
I once personally witnessed a scene in which a property owner, who peacefully prevented the re-entry to his property by a tenant against whom he had obtained a court judgement, was thrown into a vehicle and jumped upon by a policeman called by the tenant.
The policeman and his victim were both Indo-Guyanese.
A few years ago another mother cried when her young son who had just joined the Army was shot during his training. The pain of young Private La Rose’s mother was heightened and extended by the insistence of the authorities that he had committed suicide, by shooting himself in the back of the head, and it was years before it was admitted that he had been murdered by some person or persons unknown.
He was not Indian.
When one of our children falls it is time for all of us to work together to spare the others.
Please do not heap dishonour on Amar’s grave by fostering race-hate in his name.
THE cowardly slaying of Minister of Agriculture (Ag.) Satyadeow Sawh by unknown assassins is an attempt to drive fear into Guyanese.
But Guyanese are stronger than these fools think. Is it dementia or folly that makes these assassins think that they will be getting away with their murderous deeds? I suppose with the creeping old age it must be classed as dementia.
All Guyanese stand united in hunting these political killers.
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)