December 14, 2009

THE BIRTH OF A VILLAGE

Posted in Economics, Guyana tagged , , at 4:18 pm by randallbutisingh

THE BIRTH OF A VILLAGE

Annandale Today (Written in 1964)  by: Randall Butisingh.

About eleven miles from the City of Georgetown, journey East, one cannot fail to notice the compact Housing Area which extends for four hundred yards on both sides of the public road from Buxton on the East to Lusignan on the West.   The stranger will be surprised to learn that a little more than twenty years ago, this well-drained area was swampy rice fields and pasture for cattle and sheep.   He will not fail to notice the rectangular streets and macadamized roads which are kept in good state of repair and the piped water system which gets its supply from two deep artesian wells in the area.

Annandale was a grinding Sugar Estate many years ago.   It was said to be named after Ann and Dale, the daughters of the proprietor but its factory was dismantled because of its proximity to Lusignan whose factory had the capacity for grinding its sugar cane.   The workers were then removed to Lusignan where they were housed in Logies, or range houses.

How did these new houses at Annandale, which the middle class or urban dweller may envy, spring up in so short a time.   The older heads will remember that as recent as 1947, following discontent and restlessness among Sugar Workers, the Venn Commission was sent from England to investigate conditions on the Sugar Estates of British Guiana. and to make recommendations for improvement.   They found the most appalling conditions in the estates.  Apart for a small number of certain categories of workers, the majority of sugar workers live in ranges, called logies of five or six white washed, mud-floored rooms for as many families with no fences and not much privacy. These homes were also prone to flooding in the rainy season.

In 1948 the Lusignan Sugar Factory was dismantled and the canes were sent to a Central Factory at Enmore, a Sugar Estate about six miles east of Lusignan.   This too was a reason for getting the workers out of the Lusignan Estate and for speedily finding alternative accommodation for them in another area.  The Commission recommended that these ranges be pulled down and proper houses erected for the workers.

In 1949, the first interest free loans were given by The Enmore Estates Ltd to the first set of workers to be paid on the basis of a dollar a week and the logies in which they lived were sold to them for a pittance.   With the money and the materials, part of which was sound, they built the first houses on which is now called Annandale South.   These houses were to form the nucleus of a fast-growing community which now totals hundreds of houses and a population of around three thousand.   In 1950, the Sugar Industry Welfare Fund was introduced.   This fund which was raised by setting aside a small percentage of the sum collected for each ton of sugar provided the loans for the houses and also the infrastructure – proper streets, water supply and social amenities.

Within Annandale, where the land is leasehold, is an area with over a hundred and twenty houses.   This area was reserved for sale to the people of Lusignan Pasture so that they could remove from the present site which was not developed, and so leave the land vacant for the use of the estate.

However, residents of the pasture were reluctant to remove from an area with gardening and pasturing facilities and very few took the opportunity to purchase plots there.   Other workers too, who were safely accommodated in the Housing Scheme did not avail themselves of the opportunity to buy although they were given first preference.   Eventually the lands were sold to selected applicants and the section which is known as Courabane Park is made up of chiefly of residents from villages in the surrounding areas.

Courabane Park boasts the finest houses in Annandale, but it lacks the facilities of good roads, proper drainage and potable water supply.  These inadequacies however will be remedied soon within the framework of a Local Authority and Self help.

The population comprises the descendants of East Indians and Africans with Indians forming a large majority.   Most of the Indians are Hindus, a small number is Muslims and a smaller number of Christians.  Annandale also has a Government Primary and a Secondary School to serve the educational needs of the people, a Temple, an Arya Samaj Mandir, a Mosque and a Baptist Mission Church to serve their spiritual needs

A Community Centre, the best of its kind, a project of the S.I.LW.F., provides recreational facilities e.g. cricket, table tennis, volley ball, athletics and the like.  Here also can be found facilities for Adult Education, e.g. groups, films and a library.

With the availability of free Higher Education, children of the estate workers have become Graduates of the University of Guyana, or have attained certificates at the ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels of the G.C.E. Examinations.   Annandale has produced to date (1964) two medical doctors, a lawyer, two sanitary inspectors, and a number of teachers, nurses, accountants, mechanics, tailors, carpenters and other skilled workers.

Recently, Annandale has projected itself on the literary scene and during the past year works of three of its creative writers.  Among them is a young poet and story writer Rooplall Monar with a string of National prizes.  His work has appeared in local and Caribbean anthologies and magazines.  The others are Bramdeo Persaud, poet and short story writer and Guska, a brilliant student, poet and artist.

In the field of music Ramdhan is rated the best player of the dholak (Indian drum) in the Caribbean.   His son is following in his footsteps, and Sugrim  Samaroo, as player of the harmonium and mandolin.

In athletics, Annandale has produced three athletes of note – Sheik Hassan, Twahir Ali and R.D. Singh.  Sheik Hassan is at present in Neighbouring Surinam where he is imparting his skill and techniques to the youths over there.  Twahir, the veteran is active in the Athletic Group at the Community Centre.   R.D.Singh, the youngest of the three was the winner of the Caribbean long distance championship in Grenada.

For the physical needs of the area there are large groceries and parlours, hardware and dry goods stores, a furniture mart, and spirit shops. It also has two garment factories, two mechanic shops, a welding shop and two small printers.  Its market is one of the largest on the East Coast, but it is accommodated in makeshift tents on both sides of the Main road.   It operates for about four busy hours starting about 11 a.m. every day except Sundays.  After about two p.m. vendors and buyers clear the street and everything becomes quiet again.

Annandale as an Extra Nuclear Area has hitherto enjoyed freedom from rates and taxes and the help of the S.I.LW.F. (Sugar Estates Labour Welfare Fund),  in the maintenance of roads, internal drainage and water supply facilities, but these privileges will go under the system of Village Administration and the residents will have to be faced with the obligation of supplying the facilities for themselves through rates and taxes and by means of Self and Cooperation.

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1 Comment »

  1. pearl said,

    you forget to mention Somaria from Annandale started the first out door market infront her house on Ramsingh st.


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