This Elderly Gentleman Welcomes AGE EIGHTY – by Francis Quamina Farrier

This Elderly Gentleman Welcomes AGE EIGHTY – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Francis Quamina Farrier

Please permit me to inform you that on March 12, 2018, I celebrated my Eightieth Birthday. I am hard pressed to realize it, since it seems to me as though it was only last year that I celebrated my 18th birthday. Now here I am at eighty years of age!

Goodness, Gracious, me! So it gives me great pleasure to relate to you, just a few of the things which happened in British Guiana/Guyana and the rest of the World, during the early and later portions of the past eight decades, and which I enjoy talking about from time to time.     

The very first thing which I must mention, are some of the hot topics which I heard during my first seven years of life. Yes, I do remember many of them clearly. Issues related to that raging Second World War, were the principal ones. It was a World War in which citizens of this country volunteered and fought in, for King and Country. I can clearly remember the older folks talking about Guianese having to learn to speak German, as Germany, after invading neighbouring Poland in September 1939, was defeating country after country in Europe at the time.

The name Adolph Hitler, and the name of the American Heavyweight Boxer, Joe Louis, were mentioned quite often in British Guiana of the late 1930s and early 1940s, especially after the African American, beat the German Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Max Schmeling, in their second boxing encounter in September 1938, defeating the German in a blistering first round Knock-Out. That was just five months after I was born, but it was something which was spoken of for years after, especially since it was an African American who had demolished one of Adolph Hitler’s (white) “master race” boxing champions.

There was greatness in both of my parents; my Father who migrated to British Guiana from Grenada, always planted fruit trees when moving  from one location to the next during his hinterland working years. My Mother, a Guyanese, always trained her children from a very young age, never to hit, or allow ourselves to be hit by anyone. There was no domestic violence in our home.

In my McDoom Village home, photographs of Boxing Champion Joe Louis of the USA, and Emperor Haile Selessie of Ethiopia, along with Jesus and close members of our relatives, adorned the inner walls of the house. Conversations included famous American athletes such as the Olympic champion sprinter Jessie Owens, and the popular base ball player Jackie Robinson. Both were African Americans, at that time referred to as “Negroes”, and were also spoken of very much with admiration in those early years of the 1940s.

I also heard lots of talk that the butcher of the Twentieth Century, Adolph Hitler, the ultimate dictator of Nazi Germany, who wanted a world populated only with blond hair, blue eyed people. Hitler had millions of people killed for that and for achieving world domination. That is what I heard the older people saying. Then, one day, I heard the news that Adolph Hitler had placed a loaded gun to his head and pressed the trigger, blowing out his brains. Germany had been finally defeated and the rest of the World exhaled.

Let me tell you about my growing up in British Guiana of the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s. It was in McDoom village with neighbouring Agricola. All the six races were there, and so I knew what Social Cohesion was, way back then, which was long before that term became official in usage. During those early years, British Guiana was a country – actually a colony – in which there was active apartheid.

Many whites lived in exclusive communities, especially on the Sugar Estates, the Timber Grants and the Bauxite and Gold Mining Operations, to which non-whites were not permitted, except the maids and the gardeners. There were no “WHITES ONLY” signs as there were in the United States of America at that time, but the locals knew where they were not permitted to be; where adventuring into could have landed them in jail for trespassing. They also knew that there was a ceiling in the Public Service to which locals were never promoted, no matter how educated and capable.

During the mid-1950s and into the 1960s, I recognized lots of political and trade union activities. There were National luminaries such as Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow who I saw in person a few times. There were Joseph Pollydore, also Richard Ishmael, the Educator, Trade Unionist and Businessman; he was the founder of The Richard Ishmael Secondary School located on Woolford Avenue in Georgetown. There were political luminaries such as Forbes Burnham, Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan, Peter D’Aguiar, Jainarine Singh, Jane Phillips Gay, Sydney King (now Eusi Kwayana)  and Ashton Chase, the latter two are still with us, and in their nineties.

During my 20s, I saw a deep political divide in the country, which developed into a racial divide. But through it all, there were those patriotic citizens who would have none of it and took the High Road, extracting from the National Motto, “To Love My Fellow Citizens”.

Since this is a Feature Article, and of a limited length, let me briefly mentioning just a few personal highlights of my eighty years on Planet Earth;  Winning First Prize in the Primary Schools division of the National Road Safety Essay Writing Competition. Winning Best Actor at the 1965 British Guiana Drama Festival. Being commissioned by the Programme Director of Radio Demerara, Rafiq Khan, to write “The Tides of Susanburg”. Winning the First and Third Prizes of the National Independence Playwriting Competition. Receiving a private Grant from the Author of the best selling novel and hit movie, “To Sir, With Love”, E.R. Braithwaite, to attend a Summer study course in Journalism and Voice at the Banff School of Fine Arts, the University of Alberta, Canada.

At age twenty nine, my marriage to someone who I rate as among Guyana’s top twenty Best Ever Secretaries, Patricia Bernadette Blackmore, is one of the highlights of my life. Last April, we celebrated our Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. I certainly have to mention the birth of my two wonderful daughters Arlene Zoisa and Venita Ayodele, as great events in my life.

Farrier at the little typewriter on which he typed “The Tides of Susanburg” and over a dozen other plays

Farrier with Programme Director of Radio Demerara,
Rafiq Khan.

Farrier receiving the National Award of The Medal of
Service from President Arthur Chung in 1978.

The Bishops’ High School Prefect Andrea Luthers
pinning the “Parent of the Year 1987 Award” on Farrier

 

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Comments

  • Dmitri Allicock  On March 17, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    Happy belated birthday to you Francis. I wish you great health and continued happiness.
    You look good and better that any 18 year old. [Smile] It was a great pleasure to meet you in 2016, at Linden.
    We were both doing the same thing- documenting beautiful Guyana by capturing the moments with our cameras.
    You are a man of inherent qualities and character, I saw that immediately in that magical smile and handshake of yours.
    Guyana is lucky to have a son like you and I look forward to seeing more pictures and pieces on Guyana which you articulate very well.
    God bless you and family Francis.

  • Reggie Chee a tow  On March 17, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    A great Guyanese I admired all my life.

  • Satchi Rajaram  On March 17, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    Happy birthday to you sir, may you live long enough to enjoy many more

  • Carol Massiah  On March 18, 2018 at 5:27 am

    Happy birthday to you sir. You have always been someone I admired. Thanks for sharing the article with us. May God continue to bless you and your family richly. Shalom!

  • Michael Samuels  On March 18, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Happy Birthday Francis and many, many more : You surely have been a role model. Thanks for all you have done in advancing the arts in Guyana and moreover, the entire world..

  • Patricia Ashby  On March 18, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Happy Birthday to you Sir and continued good health.

  • dhanpaul narine  On March 18, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Uncle Francis, you can’t be 80. When we were in Washington he refused to take the elevator. He ran up the stairs leaving us behind to play catch up! All the best to you sir.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On March 18, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Congrats, Brother Francis!
    Thanks for the joy you brought to our lives with your stories 🙂

  • Ron Saywack  On March 18, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Congrats and Happy Birthday to you, Gentleman. And please let us know when it is time for you to effortlessly blow out a hundred candles.

  • Ricardo  On March 18, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Francis
    What a wonderful and glorious walk down memory lane u have given me as I enter my 85th year.
    I am in Guyana visiting Melanie and spending some time with my gifted protege Keon Heywood as we up date my independence script of Guyana Legend.
    I gave him your excellent critique of the Production which blew him away.
    And which was so prescient if u do not remember it I will send it to u
    U were always one of my very special favourite Persons.

    Yesterday I had a lunch at Jocelyn Dow
    To celebrate Keon’s scholarship award to pastoral studies in Jamaica for 3 yrs
    Of course I wanted u to comej but heard u were abroad ……it was a great occasion Paloma and Dr Roth and Malcolm were there and some of his peers ….we missed u
    And so my dear friend congratulations and best wishes for a life well spent and God bless u and yur wonderful family
    Always Ricardo

  • Lawrence (Ray) Robinson  On March 19, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Belated Birthday Greetings my good friend. I look forward to joining you at the 80 year “milestone” in another 9 months. I enjoyed your visit lasst year and hope we could get together again this summer.

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