Fortunate enough to be born and grow up in British Guiana, now Guyana! – By Geoff Burrowes

Fortunate enough to be born and grow up in British Guiana

  – By Geoff Burrowes

I didn’t realize I was becoming a relic until the 1990s when a friend got me a job in a factory, assembling office furniture and I met two young men from Guyana. We began talking and they said they were from Corentyne and I told them that the last time I was in Corentyne was back in the 1960s.

The older guy said to the younger “Eh eh Baijan  in the 1960s you were still standing by the side of the public road with ya willy hanging out an ya thumb in ya mout'” As the trip with my father-in-law was still fresh in my mind, from only 30 years before, I found we didn’t have a lot to talk about!

       Wha’ fo’ do?             

   I have always wanted to return to Guyana but I realize now that the people I would meet wouldn’t have any frame of reference to understand me when I talked about the Guyana of my youth. And I realize that the ideas and values that I have always considered Guyanese may have no relevance today! HAVE I BECOME A DOWNER OR AM I SEEING THINGS CLEARLY FOR THE FIRST TIME?

        I do not feel competent to comment on what the country has become under successive governments, because when the going got tough I cut and ran to another country, which has now become my own. My roots however are buried deep in the soil of Guyana and her future will always be a concern to me and to others like myself who were fortunate enough to be born and grow up in British Guiana, now Guyana!

I hear even well-loved and loving members of my own family referring to themselves as Indo- Guyanese or Afro-Guyanese – What the hell’s wrong with being a Guyanese? Without the Indo, Afro or Chinese or European or Amerindian. We have come from a tropical paradise where Indian babies would be raised in black households or vice versa.

       A country that was known as the breadbasket of the Caribbean and our capital city was known as the Garden City!

       A country with a 90% literacy rate despite the difficulties of travel and communication. A country with a well respected police force and a strong and fair judiciary.

       A country where drainage canals drained and flooding was contained in spite of being 4 feet below sea level!

       Is there any prospect of returning to the good part of our colonial heritage and changing the racial divide that appears to be screwing up the harmony of the country?

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  • michael hawkins  On March 25, 2019 at 5:29 am

    It is the pass that makes us who we are. I grew up in what was then British Guyana, and all that is the building blocks that got me through Army life over seas. I am so glad for the teacher of life in BG

  • Linda  On March 25, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Well Mr. Burrowes they wanted independence and autonomy over their governance but did not have a clue as to how to run a country called British Guiana. They could not even comprehend that kokers were essential to the water system of the country so how on earth can we expect Guyana to be any different than it is today. Where ignorance is bliss, it’s folly to be wise.

  • bernard n. singh  On March 25, 2019 at 5:34 pm


  • wally n  On April 6, 2019 at 11:18 am

    My friend [recently passed] never left Guyana, but visited Canada once a year, did very well for himself, was always encouraging me to make a visit and observe the changes.
    I remember during the conversation, him mentioning the two things that Guyanese returning after many years find hard to get used to. In Georgetown the “loss” of the night, no window shopping. taking a walk and people getting killed, around the corner, one street over, next door….good selling points.
    I never took up the invitation, now he has passed away, I am almost certain, I won’t visit.

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