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Guyanese Playwright May 5, 2012

Filed under: Guyanese-Author — Leguanite @ 10:54 pm
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Jennifer Thomas: one thousand times an artist By Jairo Rodrigues
Mariatha Causway also known as Jennifer Thomas has been immersed in drama from as far back as she can remember. As the last of seven siblings, she would often be ignored, so she would simply act to capture the attention she desired. She recalls, “As simple as saying my ABCs had to be dramatized.” It’s no wonder then that Jennifer’s life is now centred around theatre. She is the Manager of the Theatre Guild of Guyana which is a job she thoroughly enjoys. “It is fun being here. I get to meet a lot of people, and I get to share my talent with a lot of young aspiring actors and actresses. Each day I’m here I learn more about the arts,” she says Her earliest memories of the theatre come from her mother – a great lover of the arts. She has always been motivated by her family, as she puts it “they believed in my talent and have always supported me”. It was her sister who took her to see an Indian film where she developed the love and passion for drama and theatre; automatically she knew that this was something that she definitely wanted to do. At home and at school, Jennifer was surrounded by drama. She was a member of the Drama Clubs at both St Winifred’s Primary and North Ruimveldt Multilateral. Mariatha Causway also known as Jennifer Thomas Jennifer was strongly influenced also by Indian actors and films, because of her cinema going as a child. “I love the way Hema Melini captured her audience and kept them for hours. Her range of expressing emotion is unmatchable as an actress and I knew [back then] that was what I wanted to do with an audience someday,” she says. Other influences include her eldest sister, who she thinks is a down-to-earth person; Margaret Lawrence, who she describes as the most humble actress she knows; and Desiree Edghill who is “a very expressive drama queen”. Jennifer has a deep connection to God; she says she believes God created her especially to do this. Asked what she would do to promote the dramatic and theatrical arts in Guyana, she points out, “Guyanese need to be more appreciative of our art form. We must recognise that our people of the arts are unique and talented and are among the best in the world. Only when we do so will we be able to compete on an international stage.” She describes acting as “a make believe world with a lot of realness. We express and have fun with a lot of emotions yet our love is genuine. The theatre arts require concentration, love and respect for one another because we are responsible for each other. “Being an actress is one of the most fun things in the world to do. I get not to be me for hours. I get to be someone else. I get to live their life, to think like them to walk like them to have fun the way they have fun. It’s a hard fun job. It requires concentration, observation and a lot of personal time.” Jennifer says her most accomplished piece of work was portraying the character Jewel in the play Ecstasy (1995) directed by Ron Robinson. She says it was very fulfilling doing this role and that the character came from an ordinary woman and made her into an extraordinary woman. “This characterisation has always stayed with me and has always kept me focused and striving for excellence as a woman,” she notes. Lavonne George and Fitzroy Tyrrell were her supporting actors and Ajay Baksh her leading man. Her most memorable accreditations were in 1992 when she won Best Supporting Actress at the Theatre Annual Awards for the role Suzanna of Canaan in the play The Vigil and in 1996 when she won Best Actress for the role Jewel in the play Ecstasy. “It was great receiving those two awards because I was nominated alongside legendary actresses and it showed that my portrayal of my characters were being recognised and appreciated by my colleagues,” she recalls. Both directors, Ronald Hollingsworth (The Vigil) and Ron Robinson (Ecstasy) pushed her beyond her boundaries and then expected more from her. “Many days it was all about blood sweat and tears. But in the end my colleagues, my directors, myself and the audience I’m sure were happy with the results.” And she has the awards to prove that her efforts were worthwhile. “I remember at both awards ceremonies, my heart beating like a drum and when my name was called as the winner everything stopped and the world went quiet for a moment. Both were great experiences.” Most people know Jennifer the actress, a few know Jennifer the playwright. Fewer still, know Jennifer the poet. “Being a poet is a part of me I was reluctant to share with the world for some strange reason,” she says. “For me, it was private because it’s my thoughts. Only very close friends and family knew of it until recently. It’s the quiet side of me and writing is something I enjoy.” She adds that the ability to write poems comes from loving nature and wanting to capture it in words. “Being very observant gives me the opportunity to use all my senses and so I write as I feel, see, taste, smell and touch.” Jennifer became a playwright after challenging herself to write plays. She has always been captivated by the works of characters and how words can build their personalities. “I read many scripts as an actress and have always been fascinated by plots, themes, development, construction, conflicts, resolution emotions and the different characters used to tell a story.” She has written about six plays. Front Yard, recently staged at the National Cultural Centre was the first one she was willing to share with others. Asked about yet another persona, Jennifer the model, she answers: “This started from high school days but I never followed it up, simply because of the posture and the steps. I am not good with remembering how to place my leg or arm. I just wanted to be free. Until I met Sonia Noel, who is a close friend now and has always encouraged me to have fun with it.” Jennifer has modelled some of the outfits in Sonia’s latest collection. Jennifer spent her childhood days in Campbellville before moving to D’Urban Street, Lodge then to D’Urban Street, Wortmanville. She did not grow up in a rich family, but she notes happily that she lived comfortably and by no means were they poor. She feels especially close to her brothers since they practically raised her because of her single mother’s work schedule. Nevertheless, she considers her family very close. Her current family life is centred on her adoring and loving children. She is a divorced mother with twin boys aged nineteen and a baby girl aged seven. Her hobbies and social life involve spending time with her family and children, going for long walks, swimming and of course writing. “It must be mentioned that I have two sides and even though I am not a clubber I love going out and having fun with my friends.” Jennifer plans to continue writing plays on relevant topics especially domestic violence, poems and novels. She is also planning on writing and directing films. “It is my dream to direct a movie alongside Steven Spielberg,” she adds. “The arts is my life, my passion, my dreams. Here is where I wish to be always. If I am to live a thousand lives I always want to be an artist; always,” she says.
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A legend worth remembering April 6, 2012

Filed under: guyana,Guyanese-Author — Leguanite @ 2:53 pm
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The Legend of the Kumaka Tree – and

Roraima

Posted by on January 9, 2012in Allan, Being Frank|0 Comment

(ADAPTED From a version by Sis Rose Magdalene)

The CARIBS of Guyana never lived on earth’s land, long, long long ago.  They lived in a place way up in the sky. The only inhabitants of earth were the animals of the forests and the fish who swam free in the creeks, lakes, rivers and sea.

The Carib people who lived in the place of the Sky were not fierce and war- like, as they were later to become.  So when they realized that the Earth below needed cleansing and cleaning, they all boarded a Big Cloud sailing by and requested  to be taken down, down, down to the Earth below.

The Cloud obliged even though it was a Cloud given to being naughty and mischievous. On the sun-baked Earth, the Carib people soon experienced surprise, wonder and pleasure.  For they saw beautiful unknown animals in that part of the Earth, known as Guyana – the jaguar, the peccary , the gentle, trusting deer; even the  dreaded serpent, all living together as Nature intended them to live.

In the streams, lakes, rivers, it was more delight to see all types of fish splashing in the clear waters like little beautiful rainbows.

Well, the then peaceful, caring Caribs toiled for days to clean up that portion of the Earth called Guyana.  Pleased with their task, they then journeyed to the spot where the Cloud had put them.  They wished to return to their home in the sky.  To their great surprise and fear, the wicked Cloud had left Earth and was sailing high above them intending to leave.

“Oh Cloud “, the Caribs wailed and pleaded “come take us up to our home”.  In vain they cried.  The Cloud refused and went up on his own merry way.  On Earth the Caribs, after months, became hungry as a drought overtook the land.  The Caribs even attempted to eat the sun-baked earth, but couldn’t.  Most of the Caribs who survived became thin, fierce and less-friendly.  Even the loving  animals suffered from the Drought and the hunger, it brought.

One evening, Maipuri, an interesting animal – half-pig, half tapir, was shuffling along a river – bank he was weak with hunger, not even finding  a root or a berry.  Suddenly, however, a delicious smell of fresh fruit floated all over the air.  Mmmm, where are these fruits?   Where are these trees?  Maipuri wondered.  Oranges, pineapples, sapodillas,   soursop, bananas, oranges —even cassava, plantains, peanuts, yams.  He knew the various aromas from the past; the good times. But his pangs of hunger  sharpened.

Along the river bank, through the forest on unknown paths Maipuri ran.  Then, in a clearing, he beheld the highest, most mighty tree he ever saw.  Green foliage, huge trunks, tall stately, higher than all others nearby.  And oh, the food!  Each branch bore a different fruit or vegetable.  Maipuri knew the tree to be an old KUMAKA tree.

His hungry belly and eyes saw mangoes, yellow papayas, golden pineapples, green avocadoes, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, speckled bananas, bell yams, all types of cassava, sweet potatoes.  This Kumaka  surely was a Magic Tree  of Food.  Maipuri could not believe his eyes.  But the tree was there.  He therefore ate, stuffed all he could.  HE ALSO DECIDED HE WOULD TELL NO OTHER ANIMAL OR HUMAN ABOUT THIS TREE.  Maipuri was being selfish.  Every evening he would take the secret trail to the Magic Tree.  He would satisfy himself and return home,  lest the  others came looking.

Soon, of course Maipuri grew sleek and fat whilst all others remained thin  and weak.  The Council of Animals met and concluded that Maipuri had found lots of food somewhere.  Woodpecker was chosen to keep watch on Maipuri and follow his every move, but Maipuri was too smart for the noisy woodpecker .  RAT was then selected to track Maipuri. Rat did discover Maipuri’s secrets. Alas, rat also kept the tree a secret  unto himself.  He too become fat and sleek. And selfish.

In the end, it was inquisitive MONKEY who followed and exposed rat.  All the animals gathered outside rat’s hole with monkey perched in the tree above.  After a confrontation—and  Tiger’s angry frightening roar — rat took all to the Tree of Life.  Those who could climb, shook down the Juicy fruit and wonderful vegetables for many feasts.  Man and animal were saved from starvation.

The Carib people decided to cut down the  tall, massive tree so that they could plant pieces all over Guyana.  This they did and that is how wonderful fruits and vegetables grow all over Guyana.

The huge mighty stump of that wonderful tree remained where it was touching the borders of three neighbours,   Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana.  In time, the massive stump became a Mighty Mountain.  Guyanese know it as Mount RORAIMA.

http://www.caribbeantrakker.com/

 

More about Godfrey Chin – Guyana’s social historian January 18, 2012

Filed under: Guyanese-Author,personalities — Leguanite @ 4:38 pm
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Nostalgic recollections of Godfrey Chin

as recalled by Trev Sue-A-Quan

 

Back in the early 1960s when Guyana’s national hockey team was on top of their game

among the Caribbean nations a novel youth training camp was started for all of those who

wanted to improve their skills at the game. At the time I was the hockey goalkeeper for

Queen’s College, a position I acquired more by default than deliberate choice since

nobody else was eager to take on the role of last defender – the one person to be assigned

the blame when a goal was scored by the opposing team. The hockey camp was held at

the Chinese Sports Club (later renamed Cosmos) and held on Sunday mornings and there

were drills on attacking, defending, passing, tactics and more. As the national goalkeeper

Godfrey was of course my mentor and his nimbleness and enthusiasm were infectious.

One instance that stands out was when he shifted to his right to block a shot from that

direction but the shooter directed his shot to Godfrey’s left. In a flash, while leaning to

the right, he thrust his left foot backwards and neatly deflected the ball with his heel. That

impressed me immensely because the “normal” way of trying to stop the ball was to stand

squarely to the shooter and present the pads as an impenetrable wall. But Godfrey was no

normal athlete. He demonstrated that any action that did the job was to be utilized. As a

youth half a dozen years younger than my mentor I did not leave a great impression on

Godfrey and the only national honours that I can claim was when a national youth squad

was put together to challenge a visiting team from Britain. In fact it was a team scrounged

from the sailors on a warship that was in town for security duty and many of the players

had little idea how hockey was played, or that only one side of the hockey stick should be

used to touch the ball. The Guyana Youth Team did win the game but nothing compared

to the accolades that Godfrey and his team members achieved for elevating Guyana’s

hockey skills to leadership status in the Caribbean region. However, I do have to credit

Godfrey for the training he provided because the skills I acquired led me to become the

1

st XI hockey goalkeeper for the University of Birmingham in 1965.

Many years later Godfrey and I each headed to North America, he to Orlando, Florida

and I to Vancouver, Canada. After the publication of my book

Cane Reapers in 1999

Godfrey came to the fore as one of my enthusiastic promoters and he greatly appreciated

the knowledge gained from my description of the arrival and experiences of our Chinese

ancestors in Guyana. He began to submit articles about his recollections of Guyana in the

past, in witty and down-to-earth style. He emailed me asking how I went about

publishing a book because he was giving thought to putting together a book based on his

emerging articles. I suggested that he should not try to prepare a narrative in a logical

time-based sequence but rather jot down each account or activity as a separate item. Later

he could then stitch them together into a complete story. He also questioned me about

printing and marketing and sought my input about layout, costs, print run numbers,

promotion and the like. GODc, as he then termed himself, did not disclose his full

concept for his book to me but he garnered enough to launch his

Nostalgias. It was like a

breath of fresh air from the Atlantic coming across the Sea Wall. The amazing and

detailed recollections that were resident in his brain were startling to say the least and the

title of the book was a perfect representation of what he had to say.

– 2 –

GODc decided that the best way to promote his book was to do a book tour and he

included Vancouver as one of his talking spots. I invited him to be my guest and he was

adamant in insisting that I not open out the folding sofa-bed and that he preferred to sleep

on the cushions of the sofa which would be less hassle. He brought a large collection of

photographs for which he needed to get a mounting board. He knew exactly what he

wanted and after a few phone calls I located a sign maker that supplied the required largesized

sheets. He also considered buying a projector for his presentation but I advised that

it might blow his limited budget and, through some Guyanese connections, I was able to

rent one at a very reasonable price. He then explained that he wanted to utilize a song by

Dave Martins that would “remember your boyhood days.” I wasn’t familiar with this

particular Dave Martins creation and so we sat around the kitchen table listening to the

CD and transcribing the words into a karaoke-style slide display. After these preparations

were done GODc found the time to indulge in his recreational activity – playing Scrabble

online with others worldwide. Yes, Godfrey was a man of many words . . . and worlds.

There were two events held in Vancouver for GODc. One was at the home of Desiree

(Young) Cheevers where friends and past colleagues of GODc gathered informally.

There were of course many gasps and hugs as GODc recalled past encounters with

attendees, especially the females. His display of photos impressed the gathering as much

as his amazing recall of events of the past. The second gathering was organised by the

local Guyanese Association and held in a church hall. It was there that GODc unpacked

his suitcase filled with streamers, bunting and balloons as well as an electric air pump for

inflating the balloons. It amazed me that the man was so thoroughly prepared, bringing

such stuff across the continent. He overrode my reluctance and insisted that we display a

video of his salsa dance as well as a video of an Elvis routine that I had performed on a

cruise to Alaska . . . all in the way of nostalgia and entertainment. I led the song to recall

boyhood days, much to the appreciation of the audience who indeed recalled the events

that Dave Martins had recorded. But GODc was the man of the moment and he did not

disappoint. He deemed his visit to Vancouver a success even though the sale of his books

covered a portion of his travel costs. But this is what he had anticipated and he was

thankful that his message went over well – that the days of old in Guyana were worth

recalling not only for nostalgic reasons but also for history. That night we posted photos

of his Vancouver visit to folks on his email list. GODc left several copies of his book

with me as “local agent” and they were quickly purchased by enthusiastic believers.

For entertainment and relaxation, Godfrey asked if there was a place to dance salsa. My

wife and I went with him to the appropriate night spot that offered lessons followed by a

session of salsa dancing. He was in his element and was showing some moves that would

impress the instructor. He explained that he was in fact a salsa teacher in Orlando and had

taken part in various hip-flexing events that got him recognized among the salsa activists.

He later sent us a DVD describing the fine points in dancing salsa.

On a visit to Florida in February 2008 my family deliberately set course for Orlando

where Godfrey was our guide for the day. He drove us around in his minivan, which in

itself was an interesting experience because he almost ploughed into a crossing pedestrian,

interrupted only by my sudden exclamation, and it was apparent that his eyesight was

– 3 –

failing, if not practically gone. (This was also evident to recipients of his emails who

would be faced with a display of large-sized bold fonts.) He was a practical host who

showed us the good and bad sides of Orlando while completing his errands, although he

declined to accompany us to Disney Village that night – it was merely Mickey Mouse to

him.

Over the years I have been honoured to be among his “consultants” when GODc needed

clarification of some incidents – perhaps the riots of 1962 or the streets where we lived or

the opening of a cinema or store. But my input was merely in the way of clarification or

confirmation of what was in Godfrey’s encyclopaedic memory. Towards the end of 2011

he needed to know how to arrange materials such that he could easily sort them by date or

place or individual name. I suggested that he needed to learn new tricks by utilizing a

spreadsheet program. He replied that he would try it out but I didn’t hear back from him,

not even to ask, “Ya think it easy?” And now it has come as an immense shock to learn

that GODc has left us when he had so much more to tell. We can only be grateful for

what he had to say in his collection of nostalgic memories that defines the life of

Guyanese in a bygone era.

 

********

Guyanese social history icon and culture enthusiast Godfrey Chin has passed away. He was 74.

Chin was found this morning lifeless on the floor of his Kitty residence.

Godfrey Chin

The divorced father of three sons–two of whom live in the US, while the third is serving in Afghanistan–

was said to be suffering from the flu last week. A relative said he last spoke to him on Saturday.

Chin lived some 27 years in the US and remigrated here two years ago.

He was the author of the very popular Nostalgia series in various media, as well as a book–

 

*******

Godfrey’s

Nostalgias-Golden Memories of Guyana 1940-1980

 

 

exhibitions at various venues across North America, including Vancouver in Canada and in the US in

 

 

Washington DC, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and in Guyana. He was in the

 

midst of planning an exhibition.

 

Below is his account of life on the street where he lived.

 

“At eight years of age, our family moved to 337 Murray St around 1945 – the northern side next to the

 

corner tower house at Cummings St, where Henry Gomes, the chief pressman of Argosy lived with his

 

huge family. He brought home every major magazine from Life to Man’sWorld, and my exposure to

 

reading and literature began. His house was a virtual library, a treasury from which life’s nuggets were

 

mined.

 

When that family moved around 1950, and the DaCambras from New Amsterdam took their place, my

 

exposure to the arts – drawing, etc, expanded, as Hilary, their second son, was an accomplished artist,

 

and we challenged and encouraged each other continuously in this field.

 

“Opposite, Chuck-A-Sang’s Parlour and Grocery enabled this cookshop-fly to learn entrepreneurship, as I

 

volunteered to help in their business – brewing mauby daily – ordering and packing bread, cakes and

 

pastry. At 14, my investment in reselling comic books was encouraged, as were my DJ services – playing

 

’78s on the juke box in the evening for the customers’ entertainment.

 

“Behind the shop the Chuck-A-Sangs reared pigeons and poultry, and so I was introduced to husbandry.

 

A stage was built behind the coops – weightlifting/bodybuilding was introduced with a team of the

 

neighbourhood waifs vying individually, in fierce competition in any activity that instigated betting, to

 

augment meagre pocket money and earnings. The clashes included dominoes, trup, poker, brag for

 

money, bicycle and foot races. The gamesmanship taught were early lessons in my teenage years among

 

bigger bullies and fanatic ball buridees, all enhancing and expanding my teen years..

 

“Many mornings we rode at dawn to the Camp St Sea Wall for a game of football – had a swim if the tide

 

was in – and returned home in time for school and work. Murray St was our Hell’s Kitchen. A motley crew

 

that called each other by false names, which reflected our character, race, idiosyncrasies and disabilities,

 

all taken in good stride, with fistic fights every so often. Life’s lessons teaching street smarts, that in later

 

years made us ‘icons’ in our respective fields and professions.

 

“In 1953, the elder ruffians left to seek work on the cattle ranches in Rupununi – without success – and

 

actually walked back, discarding all their personal belongings to survive the hazards of the cattle trail. Of

 

course my eagerness to leave school for this adventure was unacceptable to my parents, and I was so

 

relieved at their safe return, with barely their shirts on their backs.

 

“The neighbourhood was an orchard – profuse huge mango trees next door – that seemed to bear

 

perennially, and I had a better pelt than Charlie Stayers. The Houstons opposite, had 2 sapodilla trees

 

and it was regular competition between me, the yawarries, bats, birds and other two-footed denizens

 

who trespassed into my territory. The Taitts in the next block had also several sapodilla and mango trees,

 

and it took a good half hour to harvest your daily 6 o’clock fruit breakfast, which included also dungs,

 

papaws, tamarind, golden and star apple.Under the huge fruit trees the yards were bare – grass na grow,

 

swept dutch clean daily – and so cricket bat and ball were our Test match clashes, preparing us for

 

national games by the time we reached long pants. Wood gun and slingshots were our AK47s, while ya

 

can buy a cigarette for a cent, and learn to smoke playing ‘big man.’

 

“Every father in the neighbourhood was an artisan, hustling a living to feed their nuff picknies. A variety

 

of trades that familiarized us with shoemaking – stuffing fibre mattresses, bicycle repair, building bird

 

cages. At East St corner, DaSilva’s Confectionery taught us to make ‘sweetie,’ as we volunteered to wrap

 

the sour stick, peppermint, butterscotch and nuttin. We even learnt sleight of hand for pocket rewards to

 

sell for matinee bills.

 

“At the print shop around the corner on East St we could learn printing and book-binding, while at Sixth

 

St corner, the Smalls family fascinated us with their debut garden golf. Bottom house table tennis was

 

available and the seasonal Easter kite making and Christmas tree preparation was a learning experience

 

for us promising tradesmen, if we were so hell bent. Career choices were so straightfoward then, as your

 

parents often admonished: “Study your school books, learn a trade or you go to jail.” Mine were

 

convinced I was going to drive a donkey cart for a living.

 

“Musical talent was encouraged. The Rogers family around the corner on Fourth St set the standard, and

 

obliquely opposite a future musical icon Ray Luck and sister Beverly, were practising daily their piano

 

scales. Steel band jamming was available at Quo Vadis and Marabunta’s panyard by Bourda Green, with

 

the annual Christmas costume tramp a neighbourhood collaboration, to match any Brazilian samba

 

school.

 

Typing and shorthand was taught by AE ‘Cowie’ Luck opposite on Cummings St and our neighbourhood

 

sports heroes, Stanley Moore and his son Maurice – national sports stars in football and table tennis, lived

 

two buildings down on Cummings St. Of course the network of alleys, open palings and broken fences

 

made the entire neighbourhood our own personal domain and playground

 

“East St was a flowing canal ideal for swimming, boating and fishing, and I was the ‘champion duck and

 

drake.’ Alya remember that… A flat stone skimmed across the water for the most bounces. Other times,

 

waist deep in the canal, we shied for fish.

 

For movie escapism there was the Empire pit on Middle St. Man, even PHG was 2 blocks away for

 

emergencies such as broken limbs, nail stick, cuts and bruises.

 

“Of course nuff boy children to play with, but also nuff girls to shark, court and puppy love. A harem of

 

innocence, as from age 9 you were taught practical lessons in understanding the opposite sex. The

 

Davilars in our duplex next door had six daring, darling, dougla daughters – and it was a continuous

 

baptism, as the girls would outgrow you, in boyhood retarded adolescence. Girls always outgrew their

 

training bra before we could fill our first bif! Unless this was a Chinese handicap.

 

“Bastiani Funeral Parlour was at Albert and Fifth St, if anyone kicked the bucket. There was the Mystic

 

Friendly Burial Society at the nearby Lodge, to encourage saving, while Zam DeAbreu’s father was a

 

moneylender for short term loans. Tarrant Glasgow, national cycle champion would lime with us, and

 

corner sprints, upright-bicycle races for weekpay stakes, would end in severe brawls, when he was often

 

‘pocketed’ in planned stings. Nuff fight with bottle and stones. Ya think it easy.

 

“We also had our own obeah card reader in the neighbourhood – off limits high zinc fence with nuff

 

traffic after the 6 o’clock bee at dusk.

 

“Our teenage challenge was thus to ‘dress to impress,’ learn to dance soor like a kissadee lest cat eat

 

your dinner. Your first long pants was a sweepstakes winner; your first bicycle meant you can join the

 

ticker parade on the sea wall Sunday afternoon. Lottery was introduced in Guyana in 1981.

 

“The devil took the hindmost. The girls were your buddy friends’ sisters, so we had to be respectful,

 

know our place, or house visits, comic book loans would be verboten. In later years of adolescence we

 

would select our favourites and graduation to proms, parties, socials would be not the battle of the sexes,

 

but brothers, sisters, kissing cousins-camaraderie that made our puberty a delightful experience,

 

preparing us for adult and parenthood.

 

“In our neighbourhood each of us in this challenging environment was a small acorn, which grew into a

 

huge oak tree – our branches making waves – providing comfort and shade in the enclaves where we live

 

today.

 

“In reflecting on the streets where many of my friends lived yesteryear I rejoice in the conviction that

 

their neighbourhood was similar to mine. Ken Corsbie was a corner away on East St; Vibert Cambridge

 

First St, Alberttown; Tony Phillips on Duke St, Kingston; Malcolm Hall on Louisa Row; Wesley Kirton on

 

Pere St, Kitty; Ray Seales on Robb St; Arthur Veerasammy on Carmichael St; Claire Patterson on Hadfield

 

St, Lodge; Aileen Morgan on New Market St; Tangerine Clark on Princes St, Lodge; Chico Khan and

 

Slingshot Drepaul in William St, Kitty. Hell – look how far we

 

 

 

Godfrey Chin the man, the author January 17, 2012

Filed under: Guyanese-Author,Nostalgia,Obituary — Leguanite @ 3:26 pm
Tags: , ,

Godfrey Chin

He was the author of the very popular Nostalgia series in various media and was in the midst of planning an exhibition.
Below is his account of life on the street where he lived.
“At eight years of age, our family moved to 337 Murray St around 1945 – the northern side next to the corner tower house at Cummings St, where Henry Gomes, the chief pressman of Argosy lived with his huge family. He brought home every major magazine from Life to Man’sWorld, and my exposure to reading and literature began. His house was a virtual library, a treasury from which life’s nuggets were mined.
When that family moved around 1950, and the DaCambras from New Amsterdam took their place, my exposure to the arts – drawing, etc, expanded, as Hilary, their second son, was an accomplished artist, and we challenged and encouraged each other continuously in this field.
“Opposite, Chuck-A-Sang’s Parlour and Grocery enabled this cookshop-fly to learn entrepreneurship, as I volunteered to help in their business – brewing mauby daily – ordering and packing bread, cakes and pastry. At 14, my investment in reselling comic books was encouraged, as were my DJ services – playing ’78s on the juke box in the evening for the customers’ entertainment.
“Behind the shop the Chuck-A-Sangs reared pigeons and poultry, and so I was introduced to husbandry. A stage was built behind the coops – weightlifting/bodybuilding was introduced with a team of the neighbourhood waifs vying individually, in fierce competition in any activity that instigated betting, to augment meagre pocket money and earnings. The clashes included dominoes, trup, poker, brag for money, bicycle and foot races. The gamesmanship taught were early lessons in my teenage years among bigger bullies and fanatic ball buridees, all enhancing and expanding my teen years.
“Many mornings we rode at dawn to the Camp St Sea Wall for a game of football – had a swim if the tide was in – and returned home in time for school and work. Murray St was our Hell’s Kitchen. A motley crew that called each other by false names, which reflected our character, race, idiosyncrasies and disabilities, all taken in good stride, with fistic fights every so often. Life’s lessons teaching street smarts, that in later years made us ‘icons’ in our respective fields and professions.
“In 1953, the elder ruffians left to seek work on the cattle ranches in Rupununi – without success – and actually walked back, discarding all their personal belongings to survive the hazards of the cattle trail. Of course my eagerness to leave school for this adventure was unacceptable to my parents, and I was so relieved at their safe return, with barely their shirts on their backs.
“The neighbourhood was an orchard – profuse huge mango trees next door – that seemed to bear perennially, and I had a better pelt than Charlie Stayers. The Houstons opposite, had 2 sapodilla trees and it was regular competition between me, the yawarries, bats, birds and other two-footed denizens who trespassed into my territory. The Taitts in the next block had also several sapodilla and mango trees, and it took a good half hour to harvest your daily 6 o’clock fruit breakfast, which included also dungs, papaws, tamarind, golden and star apple.Under the huge fruit trees the yards were bare – grass na grow, swept dutch clean daily – and so cricket bat and ball were our Test match clashes, preparing us for national games by the time we reached long pants. Wood gun and slingshots were our AK47s, while ya can buy a cigarette for a cent, and learn to smoke playing ‘big man.’
“Every father in the neighbourhood was an artisan, hustling a living to feed their nuff picknies. A variety of trades that familiarized us with shoemaking – stuffing fibre mattresses, bicycle repair, building bird cages. At East St corner, DaSilva’s Confectionery taught us to make ‘sweetie,’ as we volunteered to wrap the sour stick, peppermint, butterscotch and nuttin. We even learnt sleight of hand for pocket rewards to sell for matinee bills.
“At the print shop around the corner on East St we could learn printing and book-binding, while at Sixth St corner, the Smalls family fascinated us with their debut garden golf. Bottom house table tennis was available and the seasonal Easter kite making and Christmas tree preparation was a learning experience for us promising tradesmen, if we were so hell bent. Career choices were so straightfoward then, as your parents often admonished: “Study your school books, learn a trade or you go to jail.” Mine were convinced I was going to drive a donkey cart for a living.
“Musical talent was encouraged. The Rogers family around the corner on Fourth St set the standard, and obliquely opposite a future musical icon Ray Luck and sister Beverly, were practising daily their piano scales. Steel band jamming was available at Quo Vadis and Marabunta’s panyard by Bourda Green, with the annual Christmas costume tramp a neighbourhood collaboration, to match any Brazilian samba school.
Typing and shorthand was taught by AE ‘Cowie’ Luck opposite on Cummings St and our neighbourhood sports heroes, Stanley Moore and his son Maurice – national sports stars in football and table tennis, lived two buildings down on Cummings St. Of course the network of alleys, open palings and broken fences made the entire neighbourhood our own personal domain and playground
“East St was a flowing canal ideal for swimming, boating and fishing, and I was the ‘champion duck and drake.’ Alya remember that. A flat stone skimmed across the water for the most bounces. Other times, waist deep in the canal, we shied for fish.
For movie escapism there was the Empire pit on Middle St. Man, even PHG was 2 blocks away for emergencies such as broken limbs, nail stick, cuts and bruises.
“Of course, nuff boy children to play with, but also nuff girls to shark, court and puppy love. A harem of innocence, as from age 9 you were taught practical lessons in understanding the opposite sex. The Davilars in our duplex next door had six daring, darling, dougla daughters – and it was a continuous baptism, as the girls would outgrow you, in boyhood retarded adolescence. Girls always outgrew their training bra before we could fill our first bif! Unless this was a Chinese handicap.
“Bastiani Funeral Parlour was at Albert and Fifth St, if anyone kicked the bucket. There was the Mystic Friendly Burial Society at the nearby Lodge, to encourage saving, while Zam DeAbreu’s father was a moneylender for short term loans. Tarrant Glasgow, national cycle champion would lime with us, and corner sprints, upright-bicycle races for weekpay stakes, would end in severe brawls, when he was often ‘pocketed’ in planned stings. Nuff fight with bottle and stones. Ya think it easy.
“We also had our own obeah card reader in the neighbourhood – off limits high zinc fence with nuff traffic after the 6 o’clock bee at dusk.
“Our teenage challenge was thus to ‘dress to impress,’ learn to dance soor like a kissadee lest cat eat your dinner. Your first long pants was a sweepstakes winner; your first bicycle meant you can join the ticker parade on the sea wall Sunday afternoon. Lottery was introduced in Guyana in 1981.
“The devil took the hindmost. The girls were your buddy friends’ sisters, so we had to be respectful, know our place, or house visits, comic book loans would be verboten. In later years of adolescence we would select our favourites and graduation to proms, parties, socials would be not the battle of the sexes, but brothers, sisters, kissing cousins-camaraderie that made our puberty a delightful experience, preparing us for adult and parenthood.
“In our neighbourhood each of us in this challenging environment was a small acorn, which grew into a huge oak tree – our branches making waves – providing comfort and shade in the enclaves where we live today.
“In reflecting on the streets where many of my friends lived yesteryear I rejoice in the conviction that their neighbourhood was similar to mine. Ken Corsbie was a corner away on East St; Vibert Cambridge First St, Alberttown; Tony Phillips on Duke St, Kingston; Malcolm Hall on Louisa Row; Wesley Kirton on Pere St, Kitty; Ray Seales on Robb St; Arthur Veerasammy on Carmichael St; Claire Patterson on Hadfield St, Lodge; Aileen Morgan on New Market St; Tangerine Clark on Princes St, Lodge; Chico Khan and Slingshot Drepaul in William St, Kitty. Hell – look how far we come.”

Regards!
Mike on his Bike

 

Godfrey Chin is dead

Filed under: guyana,Guyanese-Author — Leguanite @ 3:20 pm
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Fellow Alumni:

With much sadness, we report the passing of well-known Central High Alumnus, Godfrey Chin. According to reports received today, Godfrey was found this morning lifeless on the floor of his Kitty residence back in Guyana where he had been spending most of his time over the past 2 years.  His humorous accounts of life growing up in Guyana are well documented in his “Nostalgia” series and for those on his email list, he can best be described as a prolific writer. One teacher at Central High who had Godfrey as a student once jokingly confided that because of his penchant for getting into mischief, she had predicted that he would “never amount to much”. However, she lived long enough to be proven wrong and was so proud of his achievements.

On behalf of all our Central High Alumni world-wide we offer our deepest condolences to his family and especially his three sons. We know that his is a voice that will not be silenced but will live on in his writings which he has left behind and the many humorous tales that we in the Guyanese community at home and abroad have enjoyed over the years.

For more on his passing, please visit http://www.stabroeknews.com/2012/news/stories/01/16/godfrey-chin-passes-away/

Walter Wailoo

President

Central High Alumni Association

 

Great blog from a 97 year old Guyanese December 6, 2011

Filed under: guyana,Guyanese-Author — Leguanite @ 7:04 pm
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First hand account of life as it was. Check out this blog I found it very interesting and thought you would too

http://randallbutisingh.wordpress.com/%e2%80%9cmy-story%e2%80%9d-by-randall-butisingh-25/

 

Portuguese in Guyana September 21, 2011

Filed under: guyana,Guyanese-Author — Leguanite @ 10:10 pm
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This was sent to me by a friend. Unfortunately the pictures are missing – Interesting stuff

A Brief History of Portuguese in Buxton/Friendship:

I

n the late 1834, a small group of Portuguese were recruited from the poverty-stricken island of Maderia, off the west Coast of Africa, to work on a sugar plantation in Demerara. On May 3, 1835, 40 indentured peasants arrived on the ship ‘Louisa Baillie’. Not only did they bring their agricultural expertise (especially sugar cane farming) but their faith as well. They were profoundly religious which brought new life into the Catholic Church in British Guiana. By the end of the year about 553 others had arrived and were contracted to various sugar plantations.

These “Madeirenses” as they were called, rarely remained on the sugar plantations after they completed their period of indenture. As soon as their two or four-year period ended, they moved off the plantations and on to their small plots of land as well as into the huckster and retail trade. Many were employed by white merchants in Georgetown and adopted very quickly to Commerce. By 1851 in Georgetown 173 out of the 296 (58.4%) shops belonged to Portuguese. In the villages they had 283 of the 432 (65.5%) shops. About 55 years ago, the center of gravity of business in Georgetown was along Water and Lombard Streets and the greatest number and biggest businesses were owned by the “Madeirenses.” Firms such as D’Aguiar’s Imperial House, G. Bettencourt & Co., Demerara Pawnbroking & Trading Co., D.M. Fernandes Ltd.,The Eclipse, J.P. Santos, Ferreira & Gomes, Guiana Match and Rodrigues & Rodrigues once dominated the water front area. They are all gone now. Elsewhere, Portuguese owned many bakeries, pawnbrokeries, retail and rum shops. Between 1835 and 1882, over 30,645 persons of Portuguese descent were brought to British Guiana from Maderia, the Azores, the Cape Verde Islands and Brazil.

Portuguese in Buxton/Friendship:

Lionel Vieira & his wife Mary. They were married on September 4, 1960. They have 6 children and 8 grandchildren

Picture taken on March 31, 2011

  

Lionel was born on August 15, 1929 at his mother’s house in Brickdam then moved to Buxton when he was a baby. His grandparents came from Maderia. His mother died when he was three and his father died when he was five. His mother, Celisse Lucas was from Plaisance. His father, Victor Vieira was born in Buxton and worked at G. Bettencourts in Georgetown. He lived on Company Road with his uncle, Mannie Gonsalves who was married to his mom’s sister and also a cousin of Benedict Correia. Lionel attended Roman Catholic School under Mr. Theirens. He still remembers Mr. Theirens’s red tie and cork hat. Other Headmasters at the school during that time include Mr. Philadelphia, Cheeks and Ren Durant. 

George Cleveland Vas Concellos (Clevie). He was born at 51 Company Road, Friendship, next door to where he has his current shop.

Picture was taken on April 5, 2011.

     

George Cleveland Vas Concellos (Clevie).His father was George Christian Vas Concellos from Vryheid Lust and his mother was Cecelia from Beterverwagting. His current shop used to be the old Trade School, Singh’s Drug Store then Chanderband Drug Store.

The interviews I had with these two gentlemen were interesting. Lionel began by saying that the Maderian Portuguese were capable farmers since they were born and bred on a small and mountainous island where every square inch of soil was precious. Their recruitment was part of a migration scheme based on a “bounty” system. He said that under the system, public money made available under the British Government, was used to pay the planters for each immigrant transported to the Colony. Early Portuguese had settled on the East Bank of Demerara at Meadow Bank, Ruimveldt and Agricola. It was at Meadow Bank where Bishop Haynes had made the Center of the Catholic Church in British Guiana. On the East Coast, Plaisance was a main Center between 1840s and 1860s when the railway there. As the railway extended from Plaisance to Mahaica “Church Stations” mushroomed along the coast. Because of the railway, many Catholic Churches were built near to the railway stations which suggest that the railway was an integral transportation then. The building of the Churches in the Villages had been mostly financed and supported by the Portuguese. The Catholic Church in Friendship was opened on November 19, 1871 while the Church of St. John the Baptist in Plaisance was opened in 1877. Plaisance became noted for its boisterous festivals.

Clevie reminded me that Portuguese made a significant contribution to the economy of the twin villages of Buxton/Friendship. He remembered the Olympic Cinema (built in 1916) and “Rubber” Rum shop on Buxton Middle Walk, owned by the Willie Correia Family; the Vierra Store at the corner of Buxton Middle Walk & Barnwell Streets; Note: Vibert Vieira lived in Barnwell Street in the house once owned by Mr. Scott. Macedo Shop at “Bottom Station” and the Esso Gas Station owned by Benedick Correia. The Olympic Cinema built by the Correias, made a shopping center on both sides of Buxton Middle Walk Road. There were small vendors selling mauby, shaved ice, black pudding, peanuts etc.

“Rubber” Rum Shop once owned by Henrique Correia, called Rubber.

Picture taken on April 5, 2011

Times Store owned by Julio Gomes Pereira and built around 1936. It increased Buxton standing as a shopping center on the East Coast. Picture was taken on April 5, 2011.

Note: This was the site of the old Post Office.

Lionel says that the most significant economic contribution to Buxton was made in 1936 when Julio Gomes Pereira arrived on the scene, bought out the old post office site and established the largest, most equipped and well stocked General Store on the East Coast of Demerara. This edifice was called Times Square.

“Foundout” – this was a 3-in-1 store owned by the Gomes Family. It was a rum shop, store and salt goods.

Note: In the yard to the right is a Bread Fruit tree that was there probably since the shop was built. Lionel told me that this is a ‘sister’ tree from the original tree.

Picture was taken on April 5, 2011

Another huge building was the “New Foundout” store owned by the Gomes family.

Some other Portuguese shops/homes include: Vas Consellos rum shop over the line on Company Road, Seebou shop at the corner of Friendship Middle Walk & Noble Streets (present Castello’s house), Gomes shop where MC Moses lived, Gomes at friendship back – Flying House Rum Shop, Santos at Friendship back – salt goods shop, Vascellos Rum Shop. The Ogles’ house on Ogle Street was once owned by a Mr. Vieira who was a diamond seeker and had a daughter named Agnes.

Portuguese Guest Houses in Friendship.

This Guest House was once owned by the De Freitas Family of Central Garage. They spent most week-ends here. Norma Easton now lives there.

Picture was taken on April 5, 2011

Many of you may not remember that Friendship Front had a few “Guest Houses” belonging to prominent Portuguese Families in Guyana, such as J.P. Santos, Lopes, D.M. Fernandes and Central Garage.

This was a “Fabulous” Guest House once own by the Lopes Family. It was renovated and became a Hotel in October 2001 by Brian Hamilton Family who once owned the Esso Gas Station in Friendship. Please see picture below of what is left of this house today.

Picture was taken about Xmas 2001.

This is what’s left of this house today. After 35 years old Brian Hamilton was shot and killed on March 21, 2003 at the Gas Station, his father Oscar Hamilton “couldn’t take it anymore.” He soon arrived with attorneys Nigel Hughes and Stephen Fraser and closed the Gas Station. It wasn’t too long after that this beautiful building was vandalized.

Picture was taken April 5, 2011.

This was another Guest House owned by a Family of J.P. Santos & Co.

It was also owned by Brian Hamilton’s grandmother who remodeled it. The current owner is Elaine Neil, Odinga’s mother.

Picture was taken on April 5, 2011

In closing I must mention that on May 3, 2011 marked 176 years since the landing the first set of Portuguese in British Guiana from Maderia on the “Louisa Baille.” Many of you may not know that my grandmother on my Mother’s side came from Maderia.  She was an organist at the Anglican Church. She once lived in the original house where Haslyn Parris now resides. There was also a bakery there, maybe as early as 1898.  My mother was also born in this house. For me, Portuguese touch is indelible. They made an invaluable contribution not only to Buxton/Friendship’s social and commercial life but to the Colony at large. This still remains and should be remembered today as we celebrate the 170th anniversary of the purchase of Plantation Friendship.

Acknowledgements

I’ll like to thank everyone who kindly supplied this information and made it possible for this History to be written.

I am grateful to: Lionel Vieira, his wife Mary & daughter Margaret and Cleveland Vas Concellos who spent invaluable time with me to have the interviews done.

Note: If there are errors or additions that any one may have, please contact me at youngefitzroy@gmail.com or 274 0572 (Guyana).  Rollo Younge.