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



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 2, 2009

The Heart of a Teacher

Posted in Education tagged , at 1:24 am by randallbutisingh

The Heart of a Teacher

by Paula Fox

The child arrives like a mystery box…
with puzzle pieces inside
some of the pieces are broken or missing…
and others just seem to hide

But the HEART of a teacher can sort them out…
and help the child to see
the potential for greatness he has within…
a picture of what he can be

Her goal isn’t just to teach knowledge…
by filling the box with more parts
it’s putting the pieces together…
and creating a work of art

The process is painfully slow at times…
some need more help than others
each child is a work in progress…
with assorted shapes and colors

First she creates a classroom…
where the child can feel safe in school
where he never feels threatened or afraid to try…
and kindness is always the rule

She knows that a child
can achieve much more
when he feels secure inside
when he’s valued and loved…
and believes in himself
…and he has a sense of pride

She models and teaches good character…
and respect for one another
how to focus on strengths…not weaknesses
and how to encourage each other

She gives the child the freedom he needs…
to make choices on his own
so he learns to become more responsible…
and is able to stand alone

He’s taught to be strong and think for himself…
as his soul and spirit heal
and the puzzle that’s taking shape inside…
has a much more positive feel

The child discovers the joy that comes…
from learning something new…
and his vision grows as he begins
to see all the things that he can do

A picture is formed as more pieces fit…
an image of the child within
with greater strength and confidence…
and a belief that he can win!

All because a hero was there…
in the HEART of a teacher who cared
enabling the child to become much more…
than he ever imagined…or dared

A teacher with a HEART for her children…
knows what teaching is all about
she may not have all the answers…
but on this…she has no doubt

When asked which subjects she loved to teach,
she answered this way and smiled…
“It’s not the subjects that matter…
It’s all about teaching the CHILD.”

September 20, 2009

Discussions with Brian Konkal -13 : South Africa

Posted in Education, Environment, Religion, South Africa tagged , , at 6:01 am by randallbutisingh

Discussions with Brian Konkal -13 : South Africa

Clearing away the smoke (Kristen F. Konkol)

To read with pictures go to: (http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com)

Smoke billows into the air, covering the landscape. The clear sunny skies have a hazy look to them as the fire burns away at the earth. The acrid smell hits your nose and you merely look into the distance amongst the rolling landscape to spy the source stimulating your senses. The dry Kwa-Zulu Natal winter months bring many controlled (and some uncontrolled) burns to the dry, crisp and pale landscape. The charred and blackened earth can be seen in vast hectors of land in both rural and cityscapes alike. As you travel down the roads, you are occasionally even made to detour as the smoke envelopes the sky and visibility is minimal. This blackened earth is commonplace throughout the months of June-August in our province (and some others) as a practice of cyclic renewal of the earth.

Oftentimes one may think how unattractive, stale and lifeless the landscape looks throughout these months. But with the first rains at the end of August, the green “fuzz” appears as you look over the vast areas of land. For amidst the charred and lifeless remains of earth springs new buds and blades of green. Renewal begins and the cyclic pendulum has swung, bringing beauty and color to the once inert landscape. The green “fuzz” gets thicker as the grass, plants and trees begin to taste the sweet drops of moisture from the swollen clouds. The beauty and fragrance of the flowering trees and plants tickles the senses as one walks down the road seeing eye-catching violets, corals, reds and other vibrant colors springing out from the buds. As the memory of the dry and charred earth fades, one is reminded that there is always more than meets the eye. For a snapshot in time of this blackened earth would not capture the potential and cycle of renewal that takes place in Kwa-Zulu Natal (and other parts of South Africa). There are so many life-giving occurrences that happen each and every day reminding us that there really is so much more than the senses can take in and process.

This can also be illustrated by a recent experience we were blessed with in Alexandra Township . “Alex” as it is known, is one of the oldest townships in South Africa and is situated on the outskirts of Johannesburg , close to Sandton, one of the very affluent and wealthiest suburbs in South Africa . In contrast, Alexandra is one of the poorest urban areas in the country. Picture over a million people sandwiched into a few square kilometers of space. As one enters the township many of the observed homes, hostels (housing thousands), dwellings and shacks are put together with any variety of resources. Here the color and vibrancy of trees, grass and flowers are replaced by dirt, garbage and bland colored materials of the make-shift small shops and densely crammed houses.

But just as the blackened earth provides one with the mistaken identity of a lifeless snapshot, the outward appearance of Alex is deceiving, for it is one of the most vibrant and alive places to have the opportunity to experience. The kids dancing on the corner, the soccer games happening in every available space, the women sitting, talking and singing as they sell their goods, the man sewing with amazing craftsmanship in his shop, people walking up and down the streets greeting one another with familiar smiles…life abounds! People flow in mass numbers up the main streets (6 in one direction, 22 the other) creating a notable buzz. The energy in Alex is contagious and one is reminded again that there is so much more than meets the eye. As we came to a seemingly ordinary and small room made of cinder block, we are told it was once the home of the world-renowned Nelson Mandela. Not only he, but so many other notable names such as Hugh Masekela (musician and trumpeter), Mark Mathabane (tennis player and author of the autobiography Kaffir Boy), Samora Machel (former Mozambiquan president), Alfred Nzo (South African Minister of Foreign Affairs 1994-1999), Wally Serote (poet), Annie Twala (the “Mother of Alexandra”), Sam Buti (reverend) and many others called Alex their home.

From one of the main streets we were then directed into an alley like area. From the portal of the road we entered the bowels of Alex and were treated to the sweet sounds of jazz. We were in one of the oldest jazz “clubs” in the country (oldest in Alex) and have an amazing cross-cultural exchange of learning local greetings with the people there. So many laughs occurred and so much was learned and experienced between two seemingly dissimilar people from different backgrounds. An observer would think it a group who knew each other for years. As dusk drew near, and we exited Alex, the “smoke” had cleared and we could see that this place was not the snapshot of a dry and blacked earth, but the green “fuzz” and vibrancy of so much potential, color and flare…the beautiful people!

What we are reminded of every day is how blessed we are to see the cycles of life here and to see beyond the snapshots and begin to piece together clips to the bigger picture. We are humbled each and every day to look beyond the sometimes challenging outward appearance and see the beauty and amazing gifts within the people we walk and serve alongside. For we continue to see that the blackened earth provides so many amazing green and vibrant blades of renewal and life-giving promise in so many ways!

With peace and love,

– Kristen F. Konkal

Rev. Brian & Kristen Konkol, Project Coordinators, South Africa
Young Adults in Global Mission, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
P.O. Box 28694. Haymarket.3200. South Africa.

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.


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.

August 20, 2009

Discussions with Brian Konkol – 12

Posted in Education, Philosophy, Religion, South Africa at 2:19 am by randallbutisingh

Discussions with Brian Konkol -12  – South Africa – August 2009
 Ill Communication -by Brian E. Konkol
When I was sixteen years old, my older brother introduced me to an album that quickly became a favorite. Ill Communication was a chart-topping hit for the Beastie Boys, enjoyed by massive and diverse fans from all around the world (including rural central-Wisconsin high-school students!). With their “punk-rock rap, alternative hip-hop” style (…which received much disapproval from my mother), Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz continue to sell records and pack concert venues more than twenty years after their debut.

Ill Communication was originally released in May of 1994, and last month it was re-mastered and made available online through the official band website. A renewed interest in “the Beasties” has developed, and as a result, I have been thinking about Ill Communication not simply as high-energy music, but “ill communication” as a daily reality of global mission service. Specifically, as citizens of the “global north” such as Kristen and I attempt to serve alongside our companions from the “global south”, there is a vast variety of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and misinterpretation – all of which could be designated the “ill communication”.

While ill communication can sometimes lead to complications (…to be mentioned a bit later), one can recognize the various humorous moments as well. Two examples – one my own, and one recently shared with me – come to mind.

One of my first experiences of ill communication in global mission service came during my initial days as a minister serving in Guyana. Much to my joy and amazement, within a few days of arrival my early morning jogging sessions included repeated shouts of “Pastor! Pastor! Pastor!” To hear members of the surrounding neighborhood recognize me and offer morning greetings was great motivation, that is, until about a week later when a friend finally explained: “Pastor Brian, they are not saying “Pastor”, they are telling you to run “Faster! Faster! Faster!” A humbling experience, to say the least!

Another story worth sharing was told to me a few weeks ago by a local South African Lutheran Bishop (…yes, he did give permission to share the story). He told me of a visit to the United States a few years ago, and how when sitting around the dinner table of a very kind and hospitable mid-western Lutheran family, he needed something to wipe his face. As he looked around for a piece of tissue paper or wash cloth, someone asked if he needed a “napkin”, which to him was quite a shock, as his understanding of “napkin” in his native language is associated with a dirty diaper! While the Bishop repeatedly refused the invitation to use a “napkin”, the host insisted. When the guests and Bishop finally realized what had taken place, they received a good laugh (and a fun story).
Naturally, many (if not most) forms of “ill communication” are not much fun or delightful (or worth repeating!). I know firsthand what it feels like when “signals do not match”, “wires are crossed”, and even when there are good intentions, the result can be a great deal of frustration and confusion on both sides of the interaction. And while ill communication is a consistent reality for Kristen, myself, and those from our host church here in South Africa whom we serve alongside, the fact of the matter is that, as our world becomes increasingly “smaller” through globalization and information technology, we as a human race are now attempting to communicate across various “boundaries” (geographical, cultural, social, political, generational, theological, etc.) more than ever before. As a result of these current global trends, one could make the argument that there is more “ill communication” now than ever before.

As Kristen and I coordinate the Young Adults in Global Mission volunteer program here in South Africa, we are given a firsthand view – not only of our own attempts to properly accompany our local companions – but also how challenging it can be for incoming young adult North American volunteers to be faced with language barriers, cultural differences, as well as alternative opinions on politics, faith, global economics, poverty, gender roles, etc (…in addition, we have been totally amazed at how gracious and forgiving our South African hosts can be in the midst of these interactions). While the initial “culture shock” can be quite daunting for some North American visitors, especially those who have never experienced immersion in a foreign environment, even in the midst of a multiplicity of differences, volunteers and local hosts come together as people of God, and awesome interactions and relationship building takes place. While ill communication takes place throughout the term of service, one can notice an increasing level of comfort, as both guests and hosts realize that God is present “in”, “between”, and “around” them. In the end, local companions and their North American visitors realize the goal of the overall program is not to ignore differences and/or try to make people more similar, but to embrace diversity, acknowledge those things which seem to be similar, learn throughout the process, and grow alongside one another like “God’s symphony of people” called to offer unique gifts which come together for a beautiful “sound” of peace, justice, and faithfulness in the world.
The recent history of South Africa has witnessed a significant decline in racial segregation and a steady increase in people of diversity joining together to build a “rainbow nation” of love, solidarity, and mutual respect. In many ways South Africa is a miniature example of the world in which we live – a world that is becoming increasingly smaller with a growing need for people to learn how to relate with those “others” whom are quite different from themselves. Due to these changing global circumstances, there are – in my opinion – essentially two primary choices: On the one hand, people can chose to retreat from the world and try to only accept and engage with those who look, talk, smell, and think the same as they do, and on the other hand, people can embrace the increasing diversity of this world, learn from it, grow, and remember that “different” does not always mean “wrong”, and that amazing things take place when people come together and relate with one another. My hope is that the people of this world will resist the enticement to “retreat” into small corners of isolation, overcome fears which often result from misinformation, and accept the beauty which is experienced through diversity.

One of the things I have learned over the past years with ELCA Global Mission is that, at its core, international companionship is not about projects or programs, but it is primarily about people. And specifically, it is about how people relate and accompany one another respectfully, acknowledging differences, learning from one another, and recognizing the “face of God” in their presence and the spirit of God in the deepening connection and growing bonds. As much as the mass-media might try to make North Americans fear “those people” who seem “different”, those who follow the call to “come and see” realize that day-to-day realities are much different from what is filtered through television, internet, or magazines. Whether it takes place thousands of miles from home or with those who live a few doorsteps down the street, when one is able to engage in genuine relationships with those who think, speak, believe, and act differently, the fears quickly wash away, and an amazing amount of learning and growth is the result.

While there is a natural temptation for “birds of a same feather” to “flock together”, the reality of our world is that no two people are exactly the same, and the result is that “ill communication” is a natural consequence to the way in which God has created us. One need not travel far to find diversity if it is truly sought. We are all different. Some are women, while others are men. Some are “baby boomers”, while others are “Generation X, Y, Z, or Millennial”. Some are North American, while others are South American, West or East European, Asian, Australian, African, and so forth. Some are Christian, while others as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Agnostic, Atheist, and so on. And in the midst of each “category” is an endless list of additional sub-categories, which in the end accounts to billions of global citizens who each hold different viewpoints, beliefs, and observations. The diversity that fills our world cannot be escaped, and even if it could, I cannot imagine why one would even try.

In the midst of it all, my hope is that we may all take a moment to consider how much diversity we choose to surround ourselves with. Yes, no two people are alike, but some are more similar than others. Do we only engage with people who look, speak, and think similar to us? Do we only read newspapers and magazines that confirm what we already believe? Do we only visit websites which place “stamps of approval” on our pre-set ideals? Do we only listen to politicians who fall in-line with our previously held understandings? Do we only associate with those who hold common interests? Do we only watch television programs that reinforce our longstanding perceptions and priorities? Do we only speak with those who perceive God and faith exactly as we do? Are we willing to allow ourselves to be challenged instead of only being comforted?

With increased diverse interaction comes various forms of ill communication, yet I believe it is a consequence fully worth the effort. Yes, it can be challenging, and I (as well as our South African hosts) can personally attest to the struggles which one is forced to endure, and the temptations to try and resist. Nevertheless, I believe the future of our global community rests not merely upon acknowledging one another exists, but actually meeting, embracing, listening, and accompanying each other in the journey of life as fellow children of God. Like the tune of a symphony, or high-energy bounce of punk-rock rap, we were not created to make indistinguishable “sounds” in this world, but we were made to bring all of our unique “joyful noises” together, and to enjoy the results of diversity coming together. Instead of trying to make our global harmonies identical, perhaps a willingness to experience the ill communication of diverse life is just the sound our world needs.

– Rev. Brian E. Konkol
Project Co-Coordinator, South Africa, Young Adults in Global Mission
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. P.O. Box 28694
Haymarket. 3200. South Africa

August 16, 2009


Posted in Education, Philosophy tagged , , , , , at 5:12 am by randallbutisingh

School pupil, 90, dies in Kenya – BBC News

Kimani Nganga Maruge at school in Kenya

Kimani Nganga Maruge at school in Kenya


Kenya’s oldest pupil, Kimani Nganga Maruge, has died in Nairobi aged 90.

The great-grandfather held the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to start primary school, at the age of 84.

His house in the Rift Valley was burnt down in post-election violence last year and he was later moved from a camp to an old people’s home in the capital.

Despite the disruption, Mr Maruge kept hard at his studies and had two years left to finish his primary education.

Mr Maruge, a veteran of the Mau Mau independence movement, never had the opportunity to go to school when he was younger.

The father-of-five said he wanted to learn how to read the Bible for himself and he was also suspicious that he might not have been getting his full pension so he was also keen to study maths.

In 2004 he enrolled at Kapkenduywa primary school, in Eldoret, a year after the Kenyan government introduced free primary schooling.

With one of the best attendance records he was made a prefect in the school.

Two of his 30 grandchildren, who had been at the same school, said he had eventually wanted to complete a veterinary diploma.


Mumbi Kamuri, head of Cheshire Homes in Kenya where Mr Maruge spent the last year of his life, told the BBC he was dedicated to his studies right to the end.

Even after he was diagnosed with cancer in February he asked for teachers to teach him at home, she said.

“He was a very courageous man,” she said.

“Even if you don’t see it through to the end, you will still have achieved something.”

In 2005, he travelled to the United States where he called on world leaders attending a summit to make education for the poor a priority.

The BBC’s Will Ross in Nairobi says he will be remembered by many people as an inspirational figure who brought new meaning to the phrase, “it’s never too late”.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/08/14 20:10:48 GMT



This news story has been submitted by me as it exemplifies the philosophy of this Blog, and the many writings of Randall Butisingh where he promotes the philosophy of “Lifelong Learning”.

It is never too late to work towards new goals. Excuses based on age are no longer acceptable, especially in this age of worldwide information flows propelled by the Internet. Even in so-called backward societies, without the latest technologies, one can improve one’s education as books and other materials are becoming more readily available at reasonable prices, and as primary education becomes free in most countries.

Mr. Maruge did not live long enough to graduate but his story is now known by his people in Kenya and the world at large. It should  inspire everyone to follow his example of working towards the self-actualization of one’s life here on Planet Earth.

Remember that “It is never too Late!” Begin that first step towards ongoing personal growth now.

— Cyril Bryan – Guest Contributor.

August 15, 2009


Posted in Education, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:42 am by randallbutisingh

QUO VADIS DOMINE?  (Part 2) by Patanjali Ramlall.

I have contributed to this Blog in the past. Mr. Randall Butisingh, my teacher in the 1950’s at Lusignan School, East Coast Demerara, British Guiana (now Guyana), has asked me to continue my writings and submit them to his Blog for inclusion. I thank him for this wonderful opportunity. Here is my latest contribution.

I published Quo Vadis Domine? On July 27,2009. This is the follow up to that article.


In as much as we are fed information by official news agencies of the
governments of leading world powers there is still a hankering for the
truth in some schools of thought, especially in astronomy.
What is that truth? That we are never told what is behind the cover-up
of so many personal experiences and sightings of unexplained

On July 20th,1969, while travelling at 24,000 miles per hour over
Australia, on its way to the moon, a transmission by one of the Apollo
11 astronauts was picked up by amateur radio operators, “hams” as they
are called, and this is what was heard, ” holy cow, look at that thing
going by, and moving so fast that it makes me feel like we are
standing still.” That piece was not picked up by television sets
around the world because there is always a 30 second delay to off-set
any information that may raise eyebrows and cause people to think
outside of the box.

In the early 1970’s I attended a school on Campus, Fort Carson
Colorado, and did some research on UFO’s. During that period an
interesting conversation ensued between myself and one of my teachers.
This is what I learnt from her.

Shortly after that historic 1969 flight, Neil Armstrong and his two
co-astronauts made a visit to the US AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colorado
Springs, Colorado, which is right next to Fort Carson, so they decided
on a tour of the military base. After meeting with students in the
school – all military, the astronauts, in closed session with the
teachers gave a few hints about space travelling and confirmed the
above incident on “holy cow……….”

Neil Armstrong went on to say that on the 2 days spent on the moon
they observed movements of some sort of intelligent life, e.g., what
appeared to be rocks on the moon at first, were actually symmetrical
shapes moving from one location to another, as the hours went by. He
further stated that they were throughly de-briefed upon their return
to terra firma and cautioned about telling the media or public what I
just wrote. In 1960 a shiny object was observed flying quite
erratically over the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and had the
beach goers spell bound. After a spectacular few minutes it exploded,
and thousand of pieces of metal fell on the beach. The metal was
gathered up and the Brazilian scientific and intelligence officials
were unable to trace some of its components.

American agencies were called in, and upon analyses of these metals at
the Pentagon it was concluded that five of the components were not of
earthly origin. Strangely enough, the Brahmins of India described the
atom and spoke of extraterrestrial travelling, 5 millenia ago. Those
Brahmins spoke of a space craft called VIMANA, five of the metals
described in the Vimana have never been found on this planet.

In some Indian languages the V and the W are interchangeable. Check
out the name of the Bangladeshi national airline, it is  BIMANA, for
the uninitiated, Bangladesh was Eastern Bengal in India, prior to
August14,1947. During and after W W II, there appeared some mysterious
flying objects in the skies. Neither the Allied nor Axis forces cold
establish the origin of these manifestations and to date there has
been no plausible explanation.  Read up on it under the caption FOO
FIGHTERS WW II, on the internet. Facts about the ROSWELL CRASH, New
Mexico, July 8, 1947 are still being withheld from us.

This essay can be much longer, but the point is “whither goest thou”?
We constantly get subtle and not so subtle messages from other than
earthly sources and still want to go out and find other than earthly
life forms, planting flags on the moon with double talk, etc, Yet that
which we seek is all around us.

Do we ever stop and think that since governments spend tremendous
amounts of money and manpower pursuing evidence of life in outer
space, that they know and have facts that are being kept away from
public scrutiny.? No sane person should think of colonising the moon
or Mars for the next two or three centuries – why? Do some research on
logistics. Right now let these governments find cures for all
diseases, feed, clothe, educate, and keep all of us in a safe and
healthy environment, eliminate poverty and wars, and pray for an end
to greed and power.

After we have accomplished all of the above we may be able, without
shame and hypocrisy to move on to the farther reaches of the solar
system, and not say  – QUO VADIS DOMINE?

– Patanjali Ramlall

August 11, 2009

A 1924 History of British Guiana

Posted in Economics, Education, Guyana, History, Politics tagged , , , at 1:40 am by randallbutisingh

A 1924 History of British Guiana

. The St. Stanislaus College was a Jesuit-run High School in British Guiana, which became a Government high School after Independence in 1966, when British Guiana became Guyana.

St Stanislaus has a very vibrant Alumni Association in Toronto. The group has managed to get a copy of a book (126 pages) on the history of British Guiana, written in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, and printed in London by Sanders Phillips & Co., Ltd., at the Baynard Press, Chryssell Road, London SW9.
It makes for very interesting reading and gives the history, geography, economic statistics and social information like population etc. One may note from the contents that the colony at the time was under-appreciated by the its colonial masters. Now with Independence the same under- appreciation continues as the current masters have done little to take full advantage of the abundant natural resources of the country.
Thanks to alumnus John Sparrock, we have digitized this book it and placed it on a web-site so as to be accessible for all those who are interested in the history of British Guiana, before Independence.
To read it online or save it for future reading, go to :
 The whole document (126 pages) can be downloaded  from the Guyanese Online Blog as it is no longer on the St. Stanislaus website.  Go to:-
There are also photographs in the book but, to conserve space, these were separated and placed in :

August 10, 2009

Deaf-Mutes Perform:Thousand-Hand Guan Yin

Posted in Art : Beauty, Education, Philosophy, Poetry tagged , , , , , , at 2:09 am by randallbutisingh

This video has been submitted by Cyril Bryan – Guest Contributor, for inclusion in the Randall Butisingh Weblog.

This is an awesome dance called the Thousand-Hand Guan Yin, which is very popular on the Internet, with over six million views to date. All the 21 dancers in this troupe are deaf-mutes. Considering the tight coordination required, their accomplishment is nothing short of amazing, even if they were not all deaf. They rely only on signals from trainers at the four corners of the stage, these extraordinary dancers deliver a visual spectacle that is at once intricate and stirring. Its first major international debut was in  Athens at the closing ceremonies for the 2004 Paralympics. But it had long been in the repertoire of the Chinese Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe which has traveled to more than 40 countries.
Its lead dancer is 29 year old Tai Lihua, who has a BA from the Hubei Fine Arts Institute.The video was recorded in  Beijing during the Spring Festival in 2006.

I have included this video as it exemplifies the philosophy of this Weblog of personal development irrespective of the setbacks or seeming shortcomings that one may have.

— Cyril Bryan


Please click on the following link to view the video:

Deaf-Mutes Perform \”Thousand-Hand Guan Yin\”


As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart
A thousand hands will naturally come to your aid
As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart
You will reach out with a thousand hands to help others.

Guan Yin is the bodhisattva of compassion, revered by Buddhists as the Goddess of Mercy. Her name is short for Guan Shi Yin. Guan means to observe, watch, or monitor; Shi means the world; Yin means sounds, specifically sounds of those who suffer. Thus, Guan Yin is a compassionate being who watches for, and responds to, the people in the world who cry out for help.

July 21, 2009

So True!

Posted in Art : Beauty, Education, Poetry, Psychology, Youth tagged , , , at 11:45 am by randallbutisingh


by: Kimberly Seals Allers

Tuesday I cried watching the Michael Jackson memorial.
I cried for a little black boy who felt the world didn’t understand him.
I cried for a little black boy who spent his adulthood chasing his childhood.
And I thought about all the young black boys out there who may too feel
that the world doesn’t understand them.
The ones who feel that the world does not understand their baggy jeans,
their swagger, their music, their anger, their struggles, their fears or the chip on their shoulder.
I worry that my son, may too, one day will feel lonely in a wide, wide world.
I cried for the young children of all colors who may live their life feeling like a misfit,
feeling like no one understands their perspective, or their soul.
What a burden to carry.

As a mother, I cried for Katherine Jackson because no mother should ever bury a child. Period.
And I think about all the pain, tears and sleepless nights
that she must have endured seeing her baby boy in inner pain,
seeing him struggle with his self-esteem,
and his insecurities and to know he often felt unloved even
while the world loved him deeply.
How does it feel to think that the unconditional love we give as mothers
just isn’t enough to make our children feel whole?
I wonder if she still suffers thinking, “what more could I have done?”
Even moms of music legends aren’t immune to mommy guilt, I suppose.

When Rev. Al Sharpton (who always delivers one hell of a funeral speech)
said to Michael’s children, “Your daddy was not strange…
It was strange what your Daddy had to deal with,” I thought of all the “strange”
things of the world that my children will have to deal with. Better yet,
the things I hope they won’t ever have to deal with anymore.
And as a mother raising a young black boy,

I feel recommitted and yet a little confused as to how to make sure my son is sure enough
within himself to take on the world.
Especially a “strange” one. To love himself enough to know
that even when the world doesn’t understand you,
tries to force you into its mold or treats you unkindly,
you are still beautiful, strong and Black. How do I do that?
Today, I am taking back “childhood” as an inalienable right for every brown little one.

In a world, that makes children into booty-shaking, mini-adults long before their time,
I’m reclaiming the playful, innocent, run-around-outside,
childhood as the key ingredient in raising confident adults.
Second, I will not rest until my little black boy,
MY Michael, knows that his broad nose is beautiful,
his chocolately brown skin is beautiful, and his thick hair is beautiful.And nothing or no one can ever take that away from him.


“Now aint we bad? And ain’t we black? And ain’t we fine?”

— Maya Angelou

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