Fifty years later: Guyana is changing for the better – By Adam Harris

Fifty years later: Guyana is changing for the better

Guyana 50th Anniversary Logo

Guyana 50th Anniversary Logo

Opinion - commentary -analysisMay 22, 2016 | By KNews | Filed Under Features / Columnists, ADAM HARRIS

The past few days have brought a lot of recollection from me. In another few days it would be fifty years since Guyana became independent. It would also be fifty years since I joined the world of work. Those were the days when travelling was not as easy as it is today.

I spoke about travelling to Linden. The Soesdyke-Linden Highway was about to be constructed so the communities along the highway were not there. Of course there was a trail, but the conditions were such that people only say jungle. I remember when they were clearing the trail they found an aircraft that had disappeared during the Second World War.

This was just a short distance from Atkinson Field, the airport that was there at the time. Search and Rescue was not what it was today, but it was surprising that a plane going down so close to the airport could not have been found.  

On Friday, thanks to Banks DIH, a new independence arch has been erected and that brought me back to the days when the first arches were being erected. I remember when they were transporting the Brickdam arch to where it now stands. There was the construction, and Brickdam began to take on a new look.

Just a decade earlier Queen’s College was there. It was to become the Ministry of Health some time later. But across the road there were two small ponds just south east of the 1763 monument. I don’t know how they got there, but they provided a lot of entertainment for boys who are now in their 60s.

Agricola was country and so too was Lodge and Campbellville. The newspapers had a lot to write about as the big day approached. The Queen had come and gone. She had come in February and there was a lot planned around that visit. I suppose the party never stopped until May 26, 1966.

In Charlotte Street, just west of Camp Street behind where Goodwood Racing Service now stands was a pan yard. ‘Pemya’ was the king in that yard and there were a lot of young and good players. Unless I am wrong, that band was the Invaders.

There were others, but by no stretch of imagine I could have got to them; me being a country boy who barely spent any time in the city. Terry Nelson, the Guyanese singer out of England had just composed the hit, ‘We Welcome Independence’. The radio stations blared it.

Everywhere one turned there were the school children rehearsing what they had to do on Independence Day. Teachers were fussy as were the parents.

This time around I see so many things. Black women fifty years ago were content to use the hot comb on their hair, paint their faces with pink powder and use red nail polish and red or pink lipstick. That has changed today. The nail polish and the lipstick come in a variety of colours. To add to the glamour are the weaves, that extension that women put into their hair.

So far, I have seen nails painted in the national colours but the most enterprising that I have seen is a woman sporting hair in the colours of the national flag. It looks so good. As it was fifty years ago, there is an outburst of national fervor. Everyone seems to be caught up.

Back then the few airplanes that came brought a smattering of Guyanese but mostly foreigners. It is a different ball game today. I happened to be coming from Trinidad on Tuesday and the welcome I got at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport was something to behold. There were the flags, the steelband welcome was exceptional; it had people jumping in the queue as they waited their turn at the immigration counter.

Then there was the drive to the city. The place was as clean as it ever was. This is a Guyana I thought I knew but didn’t.
Of course there have been the moves to correct certain situations. The Stabroek Market area is being spruced up; vendors are being removed and there is the disagreement with the authorities. But as old folks say, ‘Talk fuh rain, talk fuh sun’ there is some amount of cooperation.

There is word that the economy has slowed. If that is the case, what is happening does not reflect that. It is true that the visiting Guyanese have added an injection of cash, but when all is said and done, people have been doing so much to make this anniversary event most memorable.

I have been listening to the radio and I have never heard so many songs by so many Guyanese artistes at the same time. They are all singing about the jubilee and there I am jumping to the beats, something I did fifty years ago, but certainly not behind the wheel of a car.

D’Urban Park is different from what it was fifty years ago, so different that there are young people who would be hard pressed to remember what it was just a few short years ago. On the night of May 25, 1966 the Golden Arrowhead that was hoisted was large, but nowhere as large as the one that will fly over Guyana come May 26 this year.

I am not going to be around for another fifty years. I am not even certain that I will be around when the 75th anniversary comes around, but I do hope that what has started now will continue in this the land of my birth for a long time to come.

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  • tulsiedas402sqn@Gmail. com  On May 27, 2016 at 12:23 am

    This is a true Guyanese, very nostalgic article, brought back fond memories of yesteryear. Thank you very much.

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