March 6, 2010

Buxton- Friendship Express

Posted in Buxton tagged at 6:05 am by randallbutisingh

Buxton- Friendship Express

Hello Readers:

As you know I grew up and lived in the village of Buxton Friendship during most of the first fifty years of my life.  I therefore hold many fond memories of the people of Buxton-Friendship, and especially those who were my dearest friends, and who helped me to become the man I am today.

During this year Buxton-Friendship would be celebrating 170 years since its purchase by ex-slaves to set up the villages in 1840.  There is a rebuilding process going on in these villages and this anniversary is being used to promote the resurgence of Buxton-Friendship as the Premier villages they were in the past.  We wish them all success in this endevour.

I am attaching the latest newsletters – “The Buxton-Friendship Express”,  published  by the groups who are celebrating this most important milestone of the villages  that were established by their ancestors.

Buxton-Friendship Express – Feb 2010 < click here

Buxton Friendship Express – Mar 2010 < click here

Randall Butisingh

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November 18, 2009

Buxton-Friendship

Posted in Buxton, Economics, Friendship, Guyana, Lusignan, Politics tagged , at 6:32 pm by randallbutisingh

 

Buxton-Friendship

By Harry Hergash

Harry Hergash, a graduate of the University of Guyana, taught at the Annandale Government Secondary from 1964 to 1969. He immigrated to Canada in 1974.

In this column I would like to share my recollections of the village of Buxton-Friendship, East Coast Demerara. Historically, after starting out as separate villages that were purchased and built by freed African slaves, they were amalgamated into one around 1841.  By the beginning of the nineteen sixties, Buxton-Friendship was possibly the most progressive and prosperous village in Guyana. It was known for its highly educated sons and daughters, civic minded citizens, hard working farmers and fisherman, skilled tradesmen, and prosperous business people, where citizens of African and Indian origins lived together peacefully.

Indians, who started arriving in the village in the 1890s, emulated the Africans in striving for education and social betterment in the country. By the 1950s they were scattered throughout the village with concentrated enclaves in the area along the seashore, referred to as Buxton Front, where there were some of the most renowned sea-fishermen in the country; on both sides of the railway embankment around the railway station where they worked as pawnbrokers and jewellers, and operated clothing and hardware stores; and in the area along Brush dam where they raised cattle and grew rice in adjoining estate lands. Most if not all of them adhered to Indian cultural traditions, and Buxton could boast of having some of the most educated and finest Indian musicians and singers of Chowtaals, Ramayan and Bhajans.

I remember Saturdays and Mondays as prime market days at the municipal market next to the Post Office, just off Company Road, a stone’s throw from the railway station. The interaction and relationships between Africans and Indians were based on mutual respect and trust, befitting two peoples who depended on the fruits of each other’s labour. Indians from the estate areas of Lusignan Pasture and Annandale Sand Reef to the West and Vigilance to the East would bring their produce of garden vegetables (ochro, bora, calaloo, etc.) to sell to the African villagers who would sell them fruits, plantains and ground provisions (cassava, eddoes, sweet potatoes, etc.). Both groups would then patronise the fishermen and the butchers who operated their stalls in a corner of the market where the odour was quite distinct. Before noon, the efficient Mr. Brown would have already completed his rounds and collected from vendors all market fees.

During my childhood in the 1950s, I traversed every street and cross street in the combined village in the company of my grandparents and uncles who sold feed to the many self-employed villagers who farmed the back-lands and raised chicken and pigs in their yards. Every Sunday morning we travelled around the village in a dray cart hauled by three donkeys laden with paddy, broken rice and bhoosi (pulverized rice shells produced during milling) which was sold to customers to be used as chicken and pig feed. By midday, with our task completed after serving the last customer along Friendship Middle Walk, we would stop at the Esso station, the first petrol station to be built on the East Coast of Demerara, where I would get a treat of Brown Betty ice-cream or Fudgsicle while the elders collected the “wet-cell” battery that had been left the week before for recharging.. In those days, radio sets of that period with names such as KB, Grundig, Phillips and Pye, were operated in the rural areas with current from a battery similar to a motor-car’s battery that had to be recharged periodically at a gas station.

Regrettably, the madness of racial discord and intolerance raised its ugly head in the country in 1963 and by 1964 Buxton-Friendship, like other parts of the country, was consumed. As Indians hurriedly relocated from the predominantly African villages to the safety of predominantly Indian areas, Africans did the same in the reverse. Even then, many good people on both sides risked their lives and property to help those on the other side, but it was not enough to stem the mass migration from villages and the formation of segregated communities. This was the beginning of squatting areas or shantytowns in Guyana. Overnight pastures and swamplands were cramped with makeshift houses and places like Lusignan East and West, Haslington, Logwood, etc. came into being.

Sadly, Buxton-Friendship never recovered from this restructuring. With independence coming shortly thereafter and government jobs becoming readily available, many African villagers deserted the self- sufficiency of independent occupations – carpentry, cabinet making, blacksmith, guttersmith, farming and the raising of livestock, opting instead for the apparent security of salaried occupations.  As the village tax base deteriorated, critical infrastructural work on roads, drainage and irrigation was neglected, and by the time the oil crisis and world-wide economic downturn hit us, both citizens and the village as a whole found it difficult to cope which resulted in the serious political repercussions of later years.

Buxton-Friendship’s loss of Indian fishermen and business people was the gain of Annandale and Lusignan. Almost overnight, in the midst of the turmoil and agony of 1964, a market developed in Annandale North’s Centre Street, rechristened “Market Street”. It quickly replaced Buxton’s municipal market as the commercial centre for the surrounding areas, and by 1965, African Buxtonians were also patronizing the vendors in Annandale. Likewise many of the hardware and clothing stores relocated to Annandale.  And the fishermen formerly of Buxton Front became the enterprising fishermen of Lusignan East where the fishing industry was taken to new heights as the importation of salted cod and canned fish was banned during the period of economic hardship of the 1980s.

Now more than four decades later, as I reflect on the deaths and destruction of 1964 and the havoc wreaked on the communities of Buxton and Annandale, I cannot help but recall that it was the ordinary citizens, not the external forces that combined to destabilise the country, and certainly not those individual politicians of both major parties in whose names the so many horrendous acts were perpetrated, who were the victims and losers in all the madness and mayhem. It was these ordinary folks who became homeless, and it was their children who became motherless, fatherless or orphans. And when it came to healing and restoring some semblance of peace and harmony, it was community leaders who had to pick up the pieces. It was Eusi Kwayana as the respected leader of Buxton, and Pandit Ramsahai Doobay as the respected leader of Annandale, who met with then British Colonial Secretary, Duncan Sandys, on the Annandale Side-line dam (then referred to as the Maginot line, a term used by the French in the Second World War) to discuss and work out arrangements that played their own part in establishing an uneasy peace in the villages.

I am now an emigrant from the land of my birth. As I follow developments of recent years in the communities of Buxton-Friendship and neighbouring areas, I am saddened that lessons of the past seem to have been forgotten. Ordinary citizens of these communities have once again been the victims and they are the ones who once again have to start rebuilding the good inter-personal relationships and trust, sorely damaged by needless strife and violence. The time has surely come for people to realize that while politicians remain unscathed and continue to enjoy the perquisites of office, it is they the poor folks who will always have to bear the consequences of actions by their “representatives”. It is they who have to live side by side as neighbours and interact with each other. As we look to the future, let us be guided by the actions and teachings of the elders of our communities. Let us remember a time not so very long ago, when an African grandmother would give a special bath of blue water to an Indian child to protect that child from the mythical “old-higue”, and an Indian mother would pay a penny to nominally “buy” an African child so that child could grow up to be healthy and strong. Let us remember our history.

(This is one of a series of weekly columns from Guyanese in the diaspora and others with an interest in issues related to Guyana and the Caribbean)

 

November 8, 2009

Xmas Festivities at Buxton -1948

Posted in Buxton, Guyana tagged at 9:27 pm by randallbutisingh

Xmas Festivities at Buxton -1948

Vivid Recollections of the Xmas Festivities at Buxton –

By “BUXTONIAN” –  December 30, 1948

PEACE and quietness can truly be said to have reigned all through the festive season so far as Buxton was concerned but there was not an absence of jollity, mirth and pleasure among the populace, but whenever manifestation they made of them was very much tempered and modified.  A walk around on Christmas day revealed that there was not made that kind of elaborate preparation which was a marked feature of old time Christmases. In times gone by there was always something to greet the eye, for even the humblest cottager did not neglect to show by his drapery over her cottage door and new or fancy blinds on the windows,  if balloons could not have been procured to give taste to the kind of decoration made, that it was Christmas – a season that must be given a kind of special welcome.

NO DRUM BEATING

There was no drum beating, nor was there any street singing of wild songs with the usual accompanying gesticulations to disturb the stillness which prevailed throughout the day.  It was Christmas Eve night that merriment made itself felt. As soon as the evening shades appeared the singing of Christmas Carols by various groups of young men and young women began; and they continued all through the night.  This particular feature was unprecedented and the zest and excellence with which it was all done were commendable.

CHOIR IN GOOD FORM

The Catholics as has been the age long custom had their Midnight Mass and the little church of St. Anthony was as usual, brilliantly illuminated.  There was the accustomed procession to the manger, but there was no profusion of gifts. The invitation to visit the Crib was given in the usual way by the singing of “Come! Come! Come to the Manger, children! Come to the children’s king”, which the choir beautifully rendered.  The midnight Mass was followed by two others masses at daybreak.  The Anglican, the Methodist, the Congregationalist, the Church of God, each had its own service after daybreak to celebrate the Christmas, and each congregation joined heartily in the singing of some of the hymns specially written to tell of the birth of the Saviour of Mankind.

CHRISTMAS SUNDAY

On this day which in former years was always the grayest of the season when the young folks of both sexes endeavour to vie one with the other in their Christmas Sunday Garb, there was, not in evidence much to attract attention of the observer.

There was much sobering down of any display in apparel as there was in public festivities. the usual crop of christenings followed by “Candles” was there and there were several unions of hearts and hands of young man and maidens; and one clergy man was heard to remark at marriage feast that he had his hands full and was kept busy nearly all day long baptizing, preaching giving communion, and marrying; and it was his good fortune not to be called upon to do any burying.

SACRED CONCERT

At Arundel Church a sacred Concert was staged in the afternoon, but the many attractions in other directions robbed it of the attendance it deserved.  The items on the programme were all splendidly rendered and told of the energy and time that must have been expended in its preparation.

ON WITH THE DANCE

MONDAY was officially observed as Boxing Day and the sport-loving and holiday-merrymaking homesters and friends and acquaintances from abroad had a day all to themselves to indulge in their particular tastes and fancies at the picnics and dances that were promoted.  These were held at the Tipperary Hall, the Congregational Schoolroom, and the ideal Recreation Club Bungalow.  During the day as well as the night there was a jam session and patrons just let themselves go in the latest in jiving.  Oh! how their hearts were light; how they danced and jived, though moon and stars were not shining bright, the while the bells of the orchestra went tinkle-ting.

Source: Covering the Country Districts – the Daily Chronicle – Thursday, December 30, 1948: Page 6.

October 7, 2009

Canon William Granville Burgan

Posted in Buxton, Education, Guyana, History, Lusignan, Philosophy, Religion tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:03 am by randallbutisingh

Persons who were of great significance in my life – 01

Canon William Granville Burgan,  B.A., M.A.

I will name Canon William Granville Burgan as one of the most significant people in my life.  This was because I had the longest relationship with him than any one else in my teaching career, when he was incumbent at Saint Augustine’s Anglican Church, located at Buxton, East Coast Demerara, British Guiana (now Guyana), and manager of the schools in which he served for a little over twenty- one years.   He jestingly referred to his twenty one year incumbency as his coming of age.  When he celebrated it in 1946, I had the pleasure of reporting it in one of the media of the day.

Rev. Canon W.G. Burgan 1886-1958

Rev. Canon W.G. Burgan 1886-1958

When he came to Buxton in 1925, I was thirteen years of age studying for the School Leaving Examination.  To me a small boy, he was tall by my standard in those days, five feet, ten inches, the same as I am now, good looking and elegant.   I admired him from the day he came.  He was a family man with three sons and two daughters.   He was the only African, in British Guiana, at a time when University degrees were rare to procure both the Bachelor and Master of Arts degree in a British University.   He was a good writer and his articles submitted to the newspapers and the monthly Diocesan Magazine stood out as gems of the English language.

For a man of his ability, he was easily fitted for the highest post in the Anglican Church, but in those days of colonialism, he could only reach as far as Canon.  The highest offices, like the Arch-Bishops and Bishops went to the white British, regardless of their attitude or aptitude – an area of discrimination, even in the Church.

Rev. Father Burgan carried out his duties as a priest and manager of the Anglican schools he controlled with dedication and commitment, though at times in conversation with him, I sensed a sign of frustration, which happens to a mind that is at a disadvantage to function to its full potential.  However, his tasks at Church were not a one-day affair, as some may think.   Apart from the regular services every Sunday and  children service every month, he held a weekday service for the school children when he would teach them new songs.   He was a good singer – a tenor, and a musician, and he also played the organ.   One of the songs he taught, I can remember word for word, even to this day.  He also helped the choirmaster to train the choir and held Confirmation classes, which were regular for long periods every year.

He loved children.  I remember once he took us on an excursion to Fort Wellington, Berbice to meet with children of the parish from which he was transferred.  At that time we had the railway running then from Georgetown to Rosignol.  I remember him taking off his clerical collar and joining with the boys in a game of cricket.

Besides his duty as priest,  he was also Justice of the Peace.  Policemen would go every week with bundles of summonses for him to sign.  In those days defendants were issued summonses at their homes to appear in court.  I believe that was the reason why he never tried to settle a case between two parishioners, but would let them go to court.    However, that was one area I did not feel agreement with him.   But now, I can see his reason; “if you could be so stupid as to make trouble, I have no patience with you; go and let the court settle it; that’s what they are there for”.   Even when one of his sons got into trouble, he did not try to resolve the matter outside of court.   Poor “Mistress” (Burgan), as we were taught to call his spouse, went to plead on the boy’s behalf.   Once I had a case with one of my young fellow teachers who hurt me.   His father refused to pay for the doctor’s expenses;   the matter was settled when his father was summoned to appear in court.

As I grew up in the school and church, I sensed a bond between us, an affinity.  I was always at ease with him although he was strict.  He was interested in my knowledge of Hindi and told me that he wished he had learnt it.   He, however was knowledgeable in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.  I knew of a candidate for the Bachelor’s degree who would visit him often to get help in learning  Greek.   He gave me the books left by his predecesor, Rev. James Persaud, who was proficient in both Hindi and Urdu, and who kept Hindi services for the old Indian Christians, back around the late 1920’s.   His books included the Missal in Urdu, an Urdu grammar and the Six Schools of Hindu Philosophy.  He also allowed me to continue the Hindi services which his predecessor kept.

Canon Burgan, though erudite, knew that he could not know everything.   He would ask me to explain certain points in grammar as if I was his teacher.   I did not realize then that maybe, he was really testing me.   He was not prejudicial; he spoke well of those of his calling who were well educated e.g. the Metropolitan (Bishop) of India.   In 1940, he appointed me Lay Reader along with another colleague.  We did the reading of the two lessons at evensong and matins, and also held the burial services when he was absent.  He made it plain that he hated the Old Testament lessons.

When I got married, he gave me a choral wedding and returned the fee I gave him for the ceremony.  He also baptized my eldest two children before he was transferred to the Plaisance Village Church in the mid 1950’s.

When India gained her independence in 1947, he held a service for the Indians of Buxton and neighbouring Vigilance.  I attended dressed in my Indian garb and was asked to read the lesson in Hindi. When the wife of the Indian catechist died, throngs from the neighbouring villages and sugar estates attended.  He made me sing a Bhajan (hymn in Hindi) with them and also read the sermon for the dead in Hindi.

With all his effort and dedication, I sensed a frustration.  This is a dog’s job, he once told us.  He had to raise a certain sum of money every year to give to the Diocese, also to maintain the material fabric of the Church.  This could not have been done by contributions from the parishioners, as they were poor.   The takings from collections were small and some could hardly have paid the six shillings ($1.44) for their yearly membership, so he had to resort to entertainments to raise the required sum.   His yearly Tea and Dance had always been a success.  In the 1950’s the young Bishop Allan John Knight was transferred as Bishop, to British Guiana from Africa to help raise money for the Church, which was in a parlous situation, and which he said could not run without money, but he had not to do it himself, the parish priests had to do it.

After 1949,  Canon Burgan was transferred to Plaisance, a parish church closer to Georgetown, we still kept our good relationship.  I used to visit him in the vicarage where he and his wife lived alone.  By then, the children were all grown, married or abroad.  After retiring, he moved to his residence in Georgetown, where he passed his last days before his call to eternity.

When he was called to higher service, I went to the funeral home where his body lay for viewing. He looked peaceful in his casket.     His daughter Dolly kissed him on the forehead.   There was a funeral service held for him at the parlour;  a man in a  high pitched voice sang solo the hymn “Lord, I would own Thy tender care and all Thy Love to me” .   After the service I  followed his cortege when it was moved to St. George’s Cathedral.  There he laid in state for final viewing and funeral service which was attended by hundreds from various parishes, dignitaries and people from all walks of life.  He was later entombed at St.  Sidwell’s churchyard in Lodge Village.

To sum up his life, with the failings, errors and limitations which are inevitable to humans in this mortal life,  Canon  Burgan performed to his fullest in the state of life into which God had called him.   As he lived, so did he die and so will he gain eternal rest in the kingdom prepared for all those who “ran the race and endured to the end.”   I close this tribute with a  quote from one of my poems:

Now he is gone, no more for us his work;

Death’s icy fingers shut the heavy tome;

But in some fairer realm where waits his Lord.

A soul will rise effulgent and at peace.

Rest in peace, my pastor, my teacher and my friend!

Randall Butisingh

——————————————————————————————–

SHORT BIOGRAPHY

Canon William Granville Burgan, B.A., M.A.

Canon William Granville Burgan (1886-1958) was born in British Guiana.  His father’s parents were one of the founders of the village of Beterverwagting, on the East Coast of Demerara.  His father, Mr. William Garnett Barnett Burgan, who died in 1938, was a well-respected Head Master of various schools in British Guiana.

Canon Burgan was born at Beterverwagting on June 16, 1886 and entered Codrington College, Barbados in 1907, holding a Diocesan Scholarship.  After three years’ residence he took and passed the B. A., degree of Durham University and also won the Wilson prize in Reading and Education competed for annually at the College Commemoration.

On his return to the colony he was ordained Deacon in December 1910 and was attached to Cathedral Staff.  In the following year he was appointed Curate of the All Saints, New Amsterdam.  On December 28, 1912, he and the Late Rev. W. G. Kimber, then Curate of St. George’s Cathedral, were advanced to the Priesthood by Bishop E. A. Parry.

Late in 1913 he was transferred to St. Michael’s Parish as Curate in Charge and later became First Vicar on the separation of these districts from the main parish. In 1914 he proceeded to his M. A., degree from Durhan University.   In 1938 he was made Canon (St Alban’s) at St. George’s Cathedral.

During his many years at Belladrum, in addition to his ministerial duties he interested himself in the general welfare of the villagers.   He was Chairman of the Local Authority of Eldorado and as President of the Farmers’ Association and First Secretary of the Belladrum and Lichfield Co-operative Credit Banks.   He was instrumental in getting the farmers to increase the area under rice cultivation.

For his services in connection with the Credit Banks he was made a Justice of the Peace of the Colony and in order that the operation of the Banks could be effectively controlled a considerable area of undivided lands was brought under the provisions of the District Lands Partitions Ordinance.  For this purpose Government appointed him Settlement Officer for the partitioning, and the issuing of titles of the villages of Belladrum, Eldorado, Paradise and Golden Fleece.

On the death of the Rev. James Persaud, incumbent of St. Augustine’s Buxton, in 1927,  Mr. Burgan was preferred as his successor and here, too, he has interested himself in the farmers.  He has been President of their Association and Vice-Patron of the Farmers’ League.  At Buxton he was manager of a number of Anglican schools in the area.

He spent over 22 years at Buxton and in 1949 was transferred to a larger village parish at Plaisance Village from where he retired in 1956. He passed on December 15, 1958.

As a Diocesan official he has held the post as Secretary of the Board of Missions for many years.  On his visits to England he has given good service in advertising the claims of the Church and in making the colony better known. His services were much in demand by the Society for the propagation of the Gospel.  He was detailed on special duty to the Channel Islands and in the Diocese of Cork in Ireland and the work and claims of the missions in this Diocese was made known to those with no knowledge of conditions prevailing in British Guiana.

He was an intellectual, well read, and versed in Latin,  Hebrew and Greek literature.  He was keenly interested in folklore and historical research. He published many articles in the newspapers and magazines.  For instance, in 1942 he published in the Diocesan Magazine “A Short History of the Guiana Diocese”, which outlined the history of the Anglican Church in British Guiana.  Mr. Burgan also contributed  for many years, to a Daily Argosy column under the non-de-plume “Rusticus”. – L. E. M., which were vivid writings of country life in rural villages of British Guiana.

– Source: the Daily Argosy

October 5, 2009

Hindi Prachaar Sabha honours Randall Butisingh

Posted in Awards, Buxton, Philosophy, Religion tagged , , , at 6:27 pm by randallbutisingh

Hindi Prachaar Sabha honours Randall Butisingh

September 22, 2009 | By KaieteurNews | Filed Under News

…hailed as world’s oldest blogger and Hindi teacher

Mr Misri Persaud of the Guyana Hindu Prachaar Sabha, left, collects the award on behalf of Randall Butisingh from Indian High Commissioner to Guyana Sabeet Kumar Mandal.

Mr Misri Persaud of the Guyana Hindu Prachaar Sabha, left, collects the award on behalf of Randall Butisingh from Indian High Commissioner to Guyana Sabeet Kumar Mandal.

Guyanese Randall Butisingh, known as the world’s oldest blogger and a prominent teacher of the Hindi language, has been honoured by the Guyana Hindu Prachaar Sabha.

Butisingh was honoured for his work in promoting and teaching Hindi language when the Indian Cultural Centre hosted a programme Saturday to celebrate World Hindi Day.
Mr. Misri Persaud of the Guyana Hindu Prachaar Sabha collected the award on behalf of Butisingh.

Butisingh was born in Guyana on December 1, 1912. He grew up in Buxton, East Coast Demerara, where he received his primary education. In 1925, he qualified and was the first runner-up for the first Buxton Scholarship.

In 1927, he passed the School Leaving Examination and became a Pupil Teacher at the age of 15.
This was the start of a 45 year-long career, with a few short breaks, in which he served as a Class II Certified and Trained Teacher until his retirement in January, 1972.

During his career, he taught mainly in Buxton, with short assignments in Lusignan, Non Pareil, Ann’s Grove and Mon Repos.
His literary accomplishments include: A paper on “Hindi in Multicultural Guyana” and a translation of a biography of Mahatma Gandhi – from Hindi to English.

He became a member of the Guyana Hindi Prachar Sabha in 1976 and also served as the Sabha’s Hindi correspondent and editor of its journal, “Gyanda.”

Among the areas of his interest are Comparative Religion, Eastern Philosophy, the computer,  and, of course, teaching Hindi. In his late 70’s he learnt to read the Arabic script and is able to read from the Holy Quran. He can also recite a few of the Suras from memory. He can also read Urdu, a sister language of Hindi, written in the Persian script to a fair extent.

At age 89, he began learning to play the recorder and according to him he has acquired some degree of proficiency. He also practises on the keyboard.
Now in this, his 98th year, he is studying Spanish and art.

September 9, 2009

Buxton’s Tipperary Hall restoration kick-started

Posted in Buxton, Education, Guyana, History tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 12:35 am by randallbutisingh

Buxton’s Tipperary Hall restoration kick-started

September 6, 2009 | By KaieteurNews | Filed Under News

The name Tipperary Hall is synonymous with Buxton and the village’s much talked about social events, at least to the elderly and not so young.

It was a name that rang out on the airwaves during ‘party time’ segments on Radio Demerara and the Guyana Broadcasting Service, and adorned billboards advertising the much anticipated excursions and other such events when all roads led to the village.

It was the place where many recall meeting their life mates; a place where the jury decided who had the best waltz and of course, who was the best dressed.

TiperaryHall-280x300

An artist’s sketch of the old Tipperary Hall in Buxton.

Over the years the hall had fallen apart and other venues took up the mantle.
Once the headquarters of the Buxton/Friendship Burial Society, the deterioration began with the advent of accessible banking institutions, as instead of persons pooling their resources in the village through the society, they were more inclined to put their money into the banks.

Hence funds to maintain the building had to be sourced from its rental for dances and other social activities. But then when the big string bands went out of orbit, the nature of dancing changed, rendering lesser use of Tipperary Hall.

Built more than 80 years ago, today, all that remains of Tipperary Hall are a few stumps which are really no reminder of what used to take place at the Middle Walk, Buxton site.
But there is a desperate effort to resconstruct the hall and this is all being done to honour the legacy of those early Buxton residents, as well as to provide a centre that the new generation could cherish.

A group of Buxtonians, some of whom are domiciled overseas, has committed to the rebuilding of the edifice, which was named after a county in the Republic of Ireland in the United Kingdom, and already several processes have been initiated towards this end.

Buxtonian Malcolm Parris, a former Government Minister, is one of those involved in the restoration project.
“There’s a Chinese proverb which says, ‘the longest distance starts with the first step’ and we are making the first step this afternoon by rededicating ourselves…to the restoration of a modern Tipperary Hall,” Parris told a gathering at a special service last Sunday to kick-start the project.
The service was chaired by Dion Abrams, the nephew of one of the most famous dancers on the Tipperary Hall dancing floor.

Apart from the famous ‘dances’ Tipperary Hall was managed by the Buxton/Friendship Burial Society.
According to Malcolm Parris, the descendants of African slaves were very ‘fussy’ about the way their loved ones were buried. And for this many persons were associated with the society.
“This benevolent and burial society ensured that you had a proper burial. They wanted to be absolutely certain that you received a good burial that they used to make their own coffins,” Parris explained.

In the earlier days, in the absence of electricity many persons gathered at Tipperary Hall to listen to political speakers from the city.
“There was Burnham, John Carter and Jagan. They all spoke at Tipperary Hall.”
According to Parris, the restoration of Tipperary Hall is seen as part and parcel of the restoration of the entire village.
He said that this is all happening when the village is currently being blessed with some positive vibes as against what was transpiring a few years ago.

Within recent times, Buxton has returned significant successes in the academic field, with many of its young residents excelling at the various local and regional examinations.
“Now we’ve got to go for the spirit of the people, and Tipperary has to do with the spirit of the people,” Parris told this newspaper.

The new Tipperary Hall will not only be a dance hall. It will encompass a community centre complete with a library.
There will be a series of fund-raising activities to assist in the restoration project and this will be supplemented by the contributions from Buxtonians overseas.
According to Parris, the coordinators are hoping to complete the project by 2012.

June 7, 2009

Cyril Bryan – Guest Contributor

Posted in Buxton, Guyana, Lusignan, Messages tagged , , , , at 4:45 pm by randallbutisingh

I wish formally to again introduce  Cyril Bryan, Guest Contributor to this Blog, who is my friend and colleague and who was instrumental in the creation of my Weblog. I have known Cyril since the mid-1950’s when we were both teaching at Lusignan School, East Coast Demerara, British Guiana (now Guyana) . In the late 1950’s he was just starting out in his first job as a Pupil Teacher. At that time his father, George Bryan, was the Head-Master at Lusignan School, where I also became Head-Master in 1962. I have not seen him since then but the age of the computer started us  corresponding by e-mail after being re-introduced by our mutual Eusi Kwayana about seven years ago.

Cyril is an Economist and Management Consultant and has specialized in Computer and Information Technology. He is very insightful and I find that many of  his ideas coincide with mine, and he, after reading my writings, decided to, without my permission, to set up a Weblog for me on October 21, 2007, and posted one of my poems:  ‘Friendship’. He then asked me to send my resume and other writings which he posted; and so began my adventure into this exciting project of Webloging.  He did my postings until I learnt to do them myself. This Blog now has 542 postings to date.

Had it not been for his vision, this weblog would  not have been created, and my writings and ideas would not have been as well known, and I would not have been as satisfied with my present life as I have been.   Since its inception, Cyril has been a Guest Contributor, and has written and selected a number of news and general interest articles for this Blog, however I have now asked him to become even more involved and recently requested him to share his ideas with me and to fill in when I need to pursue my other activities or to take a rest.  So look out for him

Welcome Cyril and share the recognition which you so richly deserve.

Randall Butisingh

January 18, 2009

Introducing Lyndon Barton

Posted in Buxton, Education, Guyana, Science & Technology tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:24 am by randallbutisingh

Dear Teacher Randall,

 Just wanted to share with you a copy of my most recent artwork (shown below), hoping that you will enjoy it. This is a scene of a home in rural Pennsylvania, which I was commissioned by its owner to do, and the medium is colored pencil.

 Also attached is a brief background write-up for your information.

 Once again, I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you for first being that special teacher you were to me in elementary school who encouraged me with my artwork, then later as a colleague and now a friend.

 Sincerely,

 Lyndon

Painting by Lyndon Barton

Painting by Lyndon Barton

 

 ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Lyndon O. Barton,  is a resident of Newark, Delaware, and former senior engineer with the E. I. DuPont Company,. He was born in Buxton, Guyana, where he received both his elementary and secondary education, attending St. Augustine’s Anglican School (later Friendship Government Secondary School) in Buxton and Guyanese College, in Georgetown.

 After high school, Lyndon returned to St. Augustine’s and taught for approximately 5 years, then entered the civil service, where he served as Class II Clerk, until his departure from Guyana for the United States.

Arriving in the U.S., Lyndon entered Howard University, where he pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Upon graduation he joined the DuPont Company and, while a full-time employee with this company, completed a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware.

 From a youth, Lyndon has always pursued art as hobby and later an vocation. In that pursuit, he received numerous recognitions/awards for his artistic work, and as an independent student he was successful in earning the General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) in Art from the University of London.

Continuing with art as an avocation in the U.S, he was recognized by the Committee for Improvement of Buxton (CIMBUX), a U.S. based Guyanese organization, for his contribution to Buxton in the field of Art.

 

Although Lyndon has worked with various media, his most recent renderings have been in colored pencil. These include and LANDMARKS OF BUXTON, his hometown, LANDMARKS OF NEWARK, Delaware, where he currently resides, and scenes from A STUDY HALL, based on classroom observations as a substitute high school teacher. These works have been displayed in one-man exhibitions at various locations in Delaware.

 

In addition to his artistic pursuits, Lyndon is an author, inventor, and college instructor. As an author, he has to his credit a college textbook entitled, Mechanism Analysis (first and second editions), written for mechanical engineers and students, plus numerous technical papers, and was listed in Who’s Who in Engineering and Science 1994/1995 edition by Marquis Publications. As an inventor, he holds four U.S. patents on various board game accessories and designs greeting cards. As a college instructor, he has lectured in mechanical engineering, but now teaches mathematics at the Delaware State University.

December 21, 2008

WATERLOGGED CHRISTMAS -2008 in Guyana

Posted in Buxton, Economics, Environment, Guyana, Lusignan tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:27 pm by randallbutisingh

Christmas looks likely to be a waterlogged one for many East Coast Demerara residents, and at Victoria, yesterday recent heavy rainfall had caused the water level to rise to well above two feet once more.

A pig struggles to keep its nose above water in this yard at Buxton, East Coast Demerara.  (Photo by Jules Gibson)

Struggling: A pig struggles to keep its nose above water in this yard at Buxton, East Coast Demerara. (Photo by Jules Gibson)

With just days to spare before the biggest holiday of the year Victorians have inches of water in their homes. Lower flat kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms are swamped leaving some villagers without a place to do their holiday entertaining.

When Stabroek News visited the area shortly after 3 pm yesterday residents were going about their daily routines as usual. Some yards had pockets of water. However, the further into Victoria we went the higher the water level became. Yards, especially those located in the backlands, have more than two feet of water. Residents told this newspaper that the flood “is nothing new”.

Swamped! This flat house at Bachelor’s Adventure, East Coast Demerara was completely surrounded by water yesterday, which undoubtedly would have gone inside as well. (Photo by Jules Gibson)

Swamped! This flat house at Bachelor’s Adventure, East Coast Demerara was completely surrounded by water yesterday, which undoubtedly would have gone inside as well. (Photo by Jules Gibson)

“Every year around this time,” Monica Amos said, “we would get flooded. As soon as the rainy season start the water would start coming in… This has been happening every year since before the big flood in 2005.”

Amos’s yard has approximately six inches of water. The floodwater is also in the woman’s lower flat bedroom and kitchen.

“Look the water come and I had to move my stove upstairs to cook. My washing machine get water all and I don’t know if it working still,” Amos explained.

Doodnauth Persaud stands in his submerged garden at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, yesterday, viewing the remains of what should have been the rewards of his labour. (Photo by Jules Gibson)

Doodnauth Persaud stands in his submerged garden at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, yesterday, viewing the remains of what should have been the rewards of his labour. (Photo by Jules Gibson)

Other residents face similar situations. The family of Corporal Wesley Hopkinson, the soldier who died in a boat collision on the Cuyuni River, had more than two feet of water in their yard. When Stabroek News had visited the family almost two weeks ago there had been six inches of water.

According to residents, the recent heavy rainfall caused the water level to rise once again. Onica Murphy, a resident who lives just in front of the Hopkinsons, reported that the water had receded “a little” prior to the recent rains but now it is gradually getting higher and is beginning to smell.
Like many other locations along the coast a large amount of garbage could be seen floating in the stagnant water and residents were moving through it freely, seemingly unaware of the possible health risks.

Livestock could be seen roaming the roadway yesterday because it was the closest available ground without inches of water.

“At least we’ll have each other for Christmas… regardless of the water and the trouble it is causing us we will try our best to have a joyous Christmas after all it is the season of sharing and accepting,” one resident said.

Water levels have also risen in Buxton and other villages within that vicinity despite the efforts being made by the various drainage stations to pump the water off the land.

____________________________________________________________________

COMMENT:

This news report highlights the serious problems Guyana has with its drainage and irrigation systems. Every year there are floods along the Atlantic coastline especially during the rainy seasons. Three years ago in December 2005- February 2006,  there was the “big flood”, which lasted for some 12 weeks in some areas, with the extreme loss of property, livestock and human life to disease.

The villages of Victoria, Bachelor’s Adventure and Buxton, mentioned in this article were some of the first villages established by the freed African slaves in the 1840’s. Lusignan, located next to Buxton was once a sugar estate, with its own factory but today it grows sugar canes for Enmore, one of the large regional factories.  All the estates and villages have had intricate networks of waterways that aid in getting fresh water from the water conservancies at the south of the coast lands, and draining used and excess water into the sea to the north. This process is especially necessary in the rainy season.

The colonial estate managers ensured that their drainage systems worked well as it ensured optimum sugar production.  The villages also had efficient drainage systems before 1960. However, there has been a systematic breakdown of many of the waterways and drainage systems over the last 50 years. First, there was a heavy dependence in the past on sluices or kokers in the past which discharged water into the sea at low tide. Now the drainage authorities seem to depend more on water pumps which are costly and do not have the capacity to discharge the volumes required.

Second, a lot of money and care was taken in the past to ensure that the drainage canals were dredged and cleared on  a yearly basis so that the water flowed freely towards the sea.  Today many canals are blocked and many of the kokers are broken or non-existent. For instance, in the 1950’s the Buxton-Friendship villages had six kokers. In 2001 there were none operational. Today, I think they have one now, so it is not a surprise that the Buxton/Lusignan areas are flooded.

It is estimated that some 80% of Guyana’s 780,000 people live along the coastlines. This is the most fertile land, built by millions of years of sediment from the Amazon and other rivers. The problem is that this land is in many cases at or below sea level. It has to be defended from the sea by building sea walls that protect it at high tides. It also has to deal with the water from the highlands in the south flowing downwards to the sea, as well as the water that collects on the land during heavy rains. The drainage systems that were designed by the Dutch who ruled Guyana from 1581-1781, were the basis of the systems used later by the British. They depended on free flowing canals and kokers which drained the lands at low tide. It is believed that the failure to upkeep and improve on these systems is the reason there are such serious flooding today.

Now, with global warming and sea levels rising as well as changing weather patterns, it seems that Guyana is in for heavier rains during the rainy seasons  every year. This means that there has to be a rethinking of the drainage issues they have as this situation seems to be getting worse every year. Some fear, that with potentially rising seas and poor drainage, that the coast lands may eventually become unlivable if this situation continues. The capital, Georgetown is there,  most of the people live there, and most of the agriculture and economic investment are in these areas so this is serious.

It is feared that with continued flooding and destruction of sea defences that in the coming years the Guyana as we know may be no longer. Like Mauritius, its people may have to look for higher ground to exist. In Guyana’s case the land is there but will there be the will or the economic capacity or capability to move inland.

– Cyril Bryan

December 18, 2008

Eusi Kwayana and National Politics in British Guiana -1

Posted in Buxton, Economics, Education, Environment, Lusignan, Politics tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:40 pm by randallbutisingh

Eusi Kwayana and National Politics in British Guiana -1

by Estherine Adams

This is the first in a series of articles which gives a brief overview of Eusi Kwayana’s involvement in national politics in British Guiana between 1950 and 1961. In this article, I propose to examine Kwayana’s rise to the national political arena, and his involvement in the original People’s Progressive Party (PPP) up to 1953.  In subsequent articles, I will examine his years in the original PPP following their electoral victory in 1953, (1953-1957), and his years in the PNC, (1957-1961).

Eusi Kwayana, formerly Sydney Evanson King, who has been referred to as the ‘Sage of Buxton’, ‘Renaissance Man’, and ‘Guyana’s Gandhi’ among other titles, was born at Plantation Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, on the 4th April, 1925.  He attended Lusignan Anglican School and Lusignan Anglican School.  King began his teaching career as a primary school teacher at age 15 and later founded the County High School, which was renamed Republic Cooperation High School, at Buxton.  A staunch believer in education, he studied privately for the Inter BA in Economics.

Eusi Kwayana

Eusi Kwayana

Although King has been active in the cultural life of the country, he was involved in politics both at the local and national levels. As a local politician, King along with Martin Stephenson organized the Buxton Rate Payers Association in 1949. This association grew into the authentic representative of the increasingly alienated villagers on all issues, and even led successful opposition to the Central Drainage Board which refused to provide proper drainage, thus precipitating six floods in the village in 1949. King also served as a village councillor and deputy village chairman of Buxton during the 1950s.

However it is in the field of national politics that King has made his most telling contribution.  This was aided, by the formation of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the People’s National Congress.  The PAC was formed in 1946 by Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, Jocelyn Hubbard and Ashton Chase, with the aim of mobilizing and educating the masses for political action oriented towards achieving political independence.  The Committee, which surfaced in response to the strains of the 1940s and because the existing political organizations, as Dr. Jagan put it, were ‘opportunistic and not interested in the masses’, was of critical importance during a period which the founders felt constituted the formal beginnings of the struggle for political independence.

The PAC differed from previous discussion circles because it was overtly political and sought to reproduce itself and its ideas within the body politic.  Hence by the end of 1949 there were Worker Discussion Circles at Kitty Village YMCA Hall each Sunday under the chairmanship of Cheddi Jagan, and at Buxton Village Hall where the Buxton Programme Group was convened every Friday night by Sydney King.  Even though King was not a founding member of the PAC, he quickly became one of the prominent members of the organization, along with Martin Carter, Ram Karran and others.  They were regarded as ‘some of the most active organizers all over the country’.

The PAC was committed “to assist the growth and development of Labour and Progressive Movements of British Guiana to the end of establishing a strong, disciplined and enlightened Party, equipped with the theory of Scientific Socialism.”  Furthermore, it trumpeted the idea of replacing the capitalist structure of the society with one in which the masses, through their representatives, would be permitted to participate in major decisions affecting the economy and the country as a whole.  These ideas strongly impacted King, to the point where he was later described by the British and Americans as ‘extreme leftist and blindly pro-Moscow’.

King’s first mentioned exposure to national politics came in late 1947 when the first elections in British Guiana since 1935 occurred. Fourteen constituencies were contested over by numerous independents along with candidates sponsored by the League of Coloured People, the British Guiana East Indian Association, and the Man-Power Citizens Association.  The PAC at that time, although still a small, relatively unimportant body, sent up three members, Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, and Jocelyn Hubbard who fought the elections as independents.

Though King did not contest the election, he was the chief architect of Cheddi Jagan’s 1947 electoral campaign on the East Coast Demerara which won him a seat in the Legislative Council.  Jagan stood for the East Demerara constituency and won his seat running against John D’Aguiar, a man who had had tremendous influence among the business and plantation elite and in the government. In recognizing this contribution, Jagan remarked, “One of my protégés, schoolteacher Sydney King of Buxton, was of great help to me in the villages.”

In 1950 the leaders of the PAC took the big step of forming a political party of their own, the People’s Progressive Party.   The goals of the PPP as stated in the 1951 Constitution were to stimulate political consciousness along socialist lines in the quest for “national self-determination and independence” and “the eventual political union of British Guiana with other Caribbean territories.”  King, elected Assistant Secretary, was prominent among the leaders of the party.  The other leaders were C. Jagan (2nd Vice Chairman and House Leader), F. Burnham (Chairman), C. Wong (Senior Vice Chairman), J. Jagan (Secretary and Editor of Thunder) and B. Benn (Executive Committee Member).

As a leader of the PPP King brought experience, though of a lesser magnitude than Jagan, gained from similar involvement in existing organizations to the Party. He was by this time an experienced local authority man and was also active in the Guyana Industrial Workers Union and the British Guiana Teacher’s Association, especially along the East Coast of Demerara. The personal contacts and influence of the leaders were used to stimulate interest in the Party.  King made good use of his position and reputation as a village teacher to spread the doctrines of the Party among African villagers, especially in Buxton where he was living.

During the early 1950s King had the reputation as a staunch Marxist and in his capacity as Assistant Secretary, he represented the PPP at the Congress of Peoples for Peace in Vienna in 1952.  He admitted to local authorities that he brought back some $US4000 in cash upon returning from his trip to Vienna.  This trip to Vienna was followed by a visit in 1953 to Budapest, where he reported on British Guiana’s social conditions and concluded with a visit to Prague.  Upon his return home, he was alleged to have brought back a suitcase full of Communist propaganda, pamphlets and correspondences with Communist contacts in Eastern Europe and England.

According to Dr. Jagan, it was because of “our [the PPP’s] continuous agitation the Waddington Constitutional Commission visited British Guiana in late 1950.”  Among other things the PPP’s delegation argued in favour of full self-government in presenting their evidence before the Commission.

The Commission did not accede to their demands as “it did not feel that Guiana had reached the stage for internal self-government.”  To say the least the PPP was not pleased with the decisions made by the Commission and King went as far as to say that “it amounted to devilish swindles,” and launched a ‘Constitution Amendment’ campaign at Buxton.

The Commission did, however, recommend universal adult suffrage and in April 1953 the first elections under this new constitution were held.  This time, King was a part of the       formidable list of candidates that the PPP offered to the electorate in every constituency.  The line up of rival parties was also formidable on paper but in reality none of them had been in existence as long as the PPP, and “none of them had developed any individual sense of unity of idea to be really considered politicians.  They all depended on the personality appeal of their leaders.”

The PPP contested twenty-two of the twenty-four seats and King stood for the Central Demerara Constituency. He felt that his “contact with working people left him in no doubt that the Party ‘could win the election.’”  The PPP, to the surprise of many, was victorious at the 1953 Elections, winning 51 per cent of the popular vote and 18 of the 24 elected seats in the House of Assembly. King won his constituency, polling 70.6 per cent of the total votes cast, indeed a resounding victory.

Signs of stress and strain were not absent at the moment of exultation, and they were focused on Burnham’s ambition to be Parliamentary leader of the party as well as chairman.  This and disagreements over the distribution of ministries led to a one week crisis, “Crisis Week”, before the PPP Government could take office.

A similar situation occurred at the PPP Congress in March. Just before the election, one of Burnham’s allies moved that the leader not be elected at the Annual Congress, but be chosen by the General Council after the general election.  Burnham anticipated a majority in the latter body.  In the debate on the motion, King made an impassioned speech. “This is a motion of no confidence in our leader; why such a motion of no confidence in our leader; why such a motion at this time?” he asked.

Martin Carter had suggested that King be appointed leader.  King refused immediately, despite Burnham’s agreement, because of bad principle.  It would have meant superseding Jagan, who was by far the most senior member, and King was deeply against this idea.  King moved, seconded by Westmaas, that the decision of the last Congress be implemented and the ‘Leader of the Legislative Group’ be named ‘Leader of the House’. The rank and file saw Sydney King’s point, threw out Burnham’s motion and Jagan remained leader.

The challenge posed by Burnham in “Crisis Week” was seen as a further effort on his part ‘at a rather late hour to acquire the leadership of the party’.
The ministers were selected finally, after intense discussions which very often found members in conference until well past midnight.  It is of interest to mention at this stage, that, according to J. N. Singh, “the party was then rent asunder, right down the middle, with Jagan having close to him Chase and King, whilst Burnham was supported by Dr. Latchmansingh and myself [Singh].”

Those selected as ministers of the new government were Cheddi Jagan as (Leader of the House and Minister of Agriculture), Forbes Burnham (Minister of Education), J. P. Latchmansingh (Minister of Health), Ashton Chase (Minister of Labour), J. N. Singh (Minister of Local Government) and Sydney King, (Minister of Communications and Works), responsible for Public Works, Post Office (other than Post Office Savings Bank), Transport and Harbours and Civil Aviation.
Having resolved the crisis the leaders were ready for the grand opening of the legislature on 30 May 1953.

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