Advice to Guyanese Hosting a Member of the Diaspora for the Jubilee Celebrations” – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Advice to Guyanese Hosting a Member of the Diaspora for the Jubilee Celebrations”

Francis Quamina Farrier

Francis Quamina Farrier

By Francis Quamina Farrier

So you will be hosting a member or members from the Diaspora, visiting for Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary Jubilee Celebrations. Good for you. Good for your Guest(s). Take it from me, it won’t be easy for you or for your guest if you do not have patience and display your best Guyanese personality. Your Guest will be coming with high expectations. You will be expecting a lot from your Guest.

However, make sure that the two expectations are not like two powerful clashing winds which cause terrible, freighting claps of THUNDER. Make sure that you show the kind of Hospitality for which Guyanese have been known for, over the decades and centuries. Be a good Host. In fact, be a great Host. My first advice to you regards your Guest from Foreign, is that you DO NOT impose YOUR itinerary on them. Find out from them what THEY would like to do and where THEY would like to go, and who THEY would like to meet. They may have some suggestions, and you may also have some suggestions. But let the final decision be THEIRS.  

Many Guyanese who have been ‘enjoying’ the “Good Life” in ‘Foreign’, worked very hard for what they have achieved. So their return to the Land of their Birth at this time, is like a sacred, once-in-a-lifetime, Pilgrimage to Mecca. For them, especially those in the 60 plus age group will even shed some tears of joy when their feet touch the precious soil of Guyana. Please DO NOT say to them, “Eh, eh! Is woh wrong wid you?” Please DO NOT.  Please understand that theirs will be emotional tears of joy – The joy of being back in their Native Land at this very special time in the history of our country. This is the Land where their navel strings are buried. So, let their tears flow like the Kaieteur Falls during the rainy season. Do not call your Guest a “cry baby” or make any other negative question or comment. It would be better for you, and for your Guest, for that matter, if you take some candid photographs with your expensive I-phone, and record for posterity, that beautiful, tearful moment. Your Guest will forever thank you for recording that One Moment in Time, when they cried while in Guyana, for the 50th Independence Anniversary Jubilee Year.

Show off how Guyanese here at home, are up with the modern times. Almost all of us here in Guyana have smartphones. Some of us bought ours, while some of us thief the smartphone which we have. I have to let you know that, back in January this year, someone stole my very expensive I-phone, which had many irreplaceable recorded images stored in it; including a photo with President David Granger and myself. I am still a little angry with myself for allowing myself to be such an easy victim for that brazen thief. There are at times, that unguarded moment when unfortunate things happen.  Let your Guest be on guard at all times. And you, too, must be on guard at all times. The petty thieves will be looking for every opportunity to strike.

And my Fellow Guyanese here at home, please DO NOT ask your visiting Guests, “Soh is woh yoh bring fo’ meh?”, as soon as you give them that welcoming hug. That would be very rude and a total turn-off. With such a crass welcome, visiting ‘Fambly’ or ‘Frien’ will do everything within their power, to stay away from you, for the duration of their stay in the land that gave them birth. Please be sensitive. Most of those people visiting, worked very hard while up in Foreign. They were getting up early on very cold winter morning before they saw the sun, which rises at around 8.00 a.m. during the winter months. They got into very cold cars or buses or trains to go to work. I have seen it on my visits to North America and England during the Winter months, and I can tell you, it’s not easy. Those places are very, very cold. No joke, Country man! When you speak while out-doors, the warm air of your breath, makes a little fog. Yes, my Guyanese Sisters and Brothers who have never visited the North during the Winter time. As you speak, is suh de breath from yoh mouth mekin’ fog right in front yoh face. And as my dear departed friend Godfrey Chin used to say, “Yuh t’ink it easy?”

Now here is a particular piece of advice for you At-Home Guyanese, regards visiting couples. If you see couples walking around in GT public spaces holding hands, please refrain from staring at them – whether they are Man and Wife, Boy Friend and Girl friend, Girl friend and Girl Friend, or Boy Friend and Boy Friend. Please DO NOT STARE at them. Leave them alone! Be civil. Show some class. People in most places in the Diaspora are free to hold hands with whomsoever they so desire. So consider it NO DAMN business of yours to pontificate and condemn. Leave that to Pastor What’s-his-Name. Consider how some couples here in Guyana have not been holding hands, but instead have been chopping off hands and other parts of the bodies of those who they claimed to have loved. Another thing; let your hugs of the visitors be considerate. Some of the Visitors from the Diaspora who are age 60 years and over, might be suffering from arthritis; so hug them every gently. And please refrain from engaging in long and lingering hugs, except if that person is an old-time boyfriend or girl-friend. Please be advised to keep the hug platonic if either of you is now married. However, If you are both single at this time, then you can hug and rub like two sticks in the Caveman era, and reignite that old flame. Let your long simmering Love blaze again. Go for it. Celebrate the Jubilee as well as your personal romantic reunion. Best of luck. Who knows, Captain Gerry might even give you an all-expense-paid Wedding reception on the House at Duke Lodge.

Now you might have a guest who wants to Show Off, and bring to bear a superiority complex on you. Please be patient. They will, and most likely in a loud voice, let you know how they live in a six bedroom mansion with a swimming pool in the Suburbs in Foreign, and how they also own a fleet of expensive cars; a Porsche, a Mercedes-Benz, a Jaguar, a Ferrari, as well as a Mustang. Then after a brief pause, they may add and a Harley Davidson motor cycle. Don’t argue. Keep quiet. At a convenient time, take them for a spin into Pradoville 2, and ask them what they see. Make sure that you show them the mansion in which Guyana’s highest paid pensioner resides. That building should be one of Guyana’s main tourist attractions.

First US Embassy building -Georgetown

First US Embassy building -Georgetown

For nostalgia, you may want to take your Guest, if they are from America, to see the now-deserted building on Main Street, which was the Embassy of the United States of America, so many years ago, and where they were probably issued with their first Visas, and without having ever to stand in a long line. That old, derelict building, should also be a Tourist Attraction during Jubilee. On the opposite side of Main Street, you can show them the new concrete Sacred Heart Church, which has replaced the iconic wooden structure, which was gutted some years ago.

My sincere hope is that you are one of the many lucky Hosts who have a very considerate Guest. That guest will sit and share with you, all the great experiences which they had before leaving Guyana. They will tell you of their very dedicated and loving teachers, and how life was slow and oh so mellow, back in those long-gone days of innocence.

Dave Martins and Francis Quamina Farrier

Dave Martins and Francis Quamina Farrier

They will tell you of swimming in a country-side canal, a hinterland creek, or the Luckhoo swimming Pool in Georgetown. With a trans-like countenance, they will recall Bosses who were kind and helpful. They will ask you about their school friends – of their first boyfriend or first girlfriend – of that first kiss which Dave Martins sings about, which made them feel like their head fell off. They may ask you where that First Love can be found. Please plead ignorance, especially if your guest has a wife or husband.

Your guest may also tell you how they rode the train which travelled from Rosignol to Georgetown, or from Parika to Vreed-en-Hoop, and how they are so sad that only the Line Top remains. Some will tell you about their daily crossings of the Demerara River from Vreed-en-Hoop to Georgetown to go to school or to work. They will ask you about the Demerara River Ferry boat the MV Queriman. Avoid making your Guest sad by telling them that the T&HD Queriman Ferry boat is now beached up at Ampa Bay on the Essequibo River just a few miles north of Bartica, with shrubs growing out of it. Just tell a little white lie and say that you really don’t know. Instead, invite them to view the beautiful little replica of that ferry boat, at the National Museum on North Road in Georgetown, opposite the General Post Office. It was the responsibility of the Transport and Harbours Department to ensure that those retired T&HD Ferry Boats were maintained as tourist attractions. Unfortunately, the T&HD never had any such vision.

As your Guest happily rambles on, continue to be patient. Listen as though that Guest and you are the only persons marooned on one of the many small islands in the middle of the Mighty Essequibo River, with no modern gadget to interrupt you. There is that saying which Judge Judy uses quite a lot, “God gave us two ears and one mouth”. Soh shut yoh one mouth, and open yoh two ears and listen with intent to your Guest as they recall “The Good Old Days” growing up in Colonial British Guiana, when the white man was in charge; British Guiana, the Land that gave them birth. “Those were the days!”, Your Guest would likely say with a happy sigh. “Yes, the days when Bookers ruled the roost and not the drug lords.” Back in the day we had the Colonial masters giving us a little hell but also a little heaven – A good education, for example. Those were the days when laws and rules had to be followed, and no one escaped justice because they had connections in high places, or lots of money to bribe the Police. In fact, in those Colonial days, the Police would lock you up if you dared to offer them a bribe.

Now let me tell you that many of those who migrated in the 1980s, the 1970s and even as early as the 1960s, still know every word of Guyana’s National Anthem. They still know every word of Guyana’s National Pledge. So if you are somewhat uncertain of yourself now, let me advise you to do yourself a favour and ‘box-up’ on those words. It might also be a good thing for you to polish-up your knowledge of the lyrics of Hilton Hemerding’s “Beautiful Guyana” and Dave Martins’, “Not a Blade of Grass”, since at sometime, you might hear your Guest burst out singing those two popular patriotic Guyanese songs.

Kiskadee and Blue Sackie birds

Kiskadee and Blue Sackie birds

Then you may also notice your Guest looking and listening to the parrots, the kiskadees, the blue sackies and the many other Guyanese birds flying by and singing their tropical songs. Complement your Guest and let them know how happy you are that they are back home, enjoying all the wonderful sights and sounds and tastes like home fruits and dishes. If you notice your Guest peeling a banana from the tip as the Americans do, instead of from the stem as we Guyanese in Guyana do, you may laugh, but do so only on the inside and suppress your amusement.

The way Americans peel a bananaThere is something which many of the returning visitors will bring with them, including those so much over-used words. “Like”, and “Basically” are the principal ones. In America, if a sentence has five words, the two words, “like” and “basically” will most likely be somewhere in that sentence.

Judge Judy hates words - like and basically

Judge Judy hates words – like and basically

It is disgusting and annoying to even some Americans; that includes American TV Judge Judy. Those two words seem to provide oxygen to millions of Americans, as well as some USA-based Guyanese. So if your Guest uses those two words over and over again, then my recommendation is that you take them into a corner and whisper gently into their ear; “You know, “basically”, I do not “basically”, “like”, appreciate “like” you know, “basically”, “like” using those two, “like” words, which “basically”, “like” are over-used, and “basically”, “like” is “like”, “basically” very  annoying to me.” Your Guest may respond by saying, “Well, Basically I was like basically didn’t realize, like I was basically using those two words, like so often.” Smile pleasantly and say, “Basically, I like that.” While still in Guyana, your Guest may see quite a number of

Pants on the ground

Pants on the ground

young men wearing their pants on the ground; that African-American sub-culture, which is now very much a part of the Guyanese sub-culture. It is like basically (ooops!) popular with quite a number of Guyanese young men – and not only those of African heritage.

So I plead with you, my Fellow at-home Guyanese; be as good a Host or Hostess of your Guest as you possibly can. You will most likely be remembered fondly, when they return to Foreign. Treat your Guest in a similar manner as you would like to be treated if and when you are visiting them in Foreign. Display the famous Guyanese Hospitality as best your time and financial resources can afford. Flash that sweet Guyanese smile as often as possible. It costs nothing for you to give, yet it is priceless. If you are a good Host(ess) you may benefit in the long term. For when your Guest returns to Foreign, they may very well start to pack a barrel, or even barrels, packed full of goodies to send to you for Christmas. However, whatever you do for your Guest, must not be done with such ulterior motives. Do it just for the love of doing good. So enjoy the 50th. Independence Anniversary Jubilee Celebrations with your Guest visiting from Foreign.

And remember, every day is special in our lives – some more special than others. Every year is also special – some more special than others. This Jubilee year is special; one in which you can make your Guest from Foreign leave with so many pleasant memories, especially for being your Guest. Do your very best to make those memories happy ones for your Guest and for Yourself. And I hope that you will have lots and lots of Selfies to share with ‘Fambly’ and ‘Frens’, both here in Guyana and in the Diaspora as well. You have the technology to do that; bought or stolen. So enjoy your hosting of your Guest from Foreign for Jubilee.

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  • Henry Muttoo  On 05/11/2016 at 2:35 pm

    Well said Quamina! Also, tell dem ‘deh-home GT bannohs’ dat dey mussen treat dem visitin’ GT people wid the sort of scorn of someone who ‘run away’ and now comin’ back to ‘tell dem how fuh run de country. Tell dem dat al a’ dem people are no less Guyanese dan dem and, in some cases, even more so. Tell dem dat fuh me. Welcome people back home wid admiration and love.

  • rose Braithwaite  On 05/11/2016 at 4:13 pm

    Hilarious Francis..succeeded in making me totally homesick with each sentence..really nicely written enjoy yourself and be sure to follow your ‘tongue in cheek’ safe and well and hold hands ‘plenty with Pat…much love …

  • Theresa Walsh  On 05/11/2016 at 7:10 pm

    Theresa Walsh-Patterson and Rosalind Blair-Patterson agree with all that. Wish Avril was about to see this day.

  • Sheila  On 05/11/2016 at 8:16 pm

    Hi Francis – As usual, great ‘stuff’, advice, and suggestions. What lovely memories to share. Always remembering that Guyanese are warm and welcoming ‘folks’. Wish our guests a pleasant and happy stay.

  • Albert  On 05/12/2016 at 4:47 pm

    There are some pointers I hope my Guyanese brethren would take note of. Some items on my travel list base on pass experience.
    Make and keep a copy of your passport in your suitcase. If it becomes lost/stolen in Guyana the U.S. Embassy will need information it contains (with other things) to issue US re-entry documents.

    Keep at home in US copies of your credit cards with numbers to call quickly if need to cancel on return to the US. Could also include an extra copy of passport.

    Did you put a request with the post office to stop delivering mails for the period you are away. Or ask someone to collect your mails. You don’t want robbers to know you are not at home.

    I also put some lights on a random time switch.

    Did you tell your close neighbors you will be away so they could keep an eye on your home.
    Walk with a few extra days of medication in case there is a delay in returning.

  • Juneann McDonald  On 05/14/2016 at 4:59 pm

    I was about to write “Great piece Francis!”, but after checking my word choice, changed to “Eloquently written Francis!”.

  • Pat alleyne  On 07/23/2016 at 3:43 pm

    The was the most accurate and amusing post I have ever read so looking forward to seeing u

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