Hope: Guyana’s history and the names of some “Great Guyanese”

 By Geoff Burrowes

When I was growing up I knew a mild mannered boy named Malcolm Rodrigues. His nickname was “Milky”. I later heard that he had become a Jesuit priest.

When many of us, decided that life under the heel of the Forbes Burnham regime was not supportable and emigrated to other countries to enjoy their freedoms, Malcolm continued to minister in Guyana. I recently read an article written by him about the martyrdom of Father Darke and realized that Malcolm had grown into a courageous priest who had stood up against the excesses of the politicians of the time. I guess that his Jesuit training and expectations were partially responsible for that growth.         

Please understand that I grew up as an Anglican and my Roman Catholic cousin Paul De Freitas and I had spirited disagreements about our respective faiths. In my case my arguments were often uninformed but not necessarily wrong!

Paul’s father Edward De Freitas was an eminent solicitor as were David DeCaires and Miles Fitzpatrick who also stood up for the cause of freedom, from what was becoming a tyrannical dictatorship. My father’s boyhood friend, Father Morrison, also bravely stood against the prevailing violence and corruption, as did my classmate Walter Rodney who paid the ultimate price for his courage. Their growth into men of courage and conviction should not be forgotten by me and my fellow Guyanese, who opted to pursue our own growth in other countries.

Ina Murray, who became a valued member of our family was black, was raised in the country by an Indian family. That was in the old Guiana before the politicians drove the “Appan Jhatt” wedge between the races.

We Guyanese have a lot to be proud of in the character of our people who stood up to oppression at various times, and in some cases gave their lives for their convictions : Cuffy, Rev Smith, Daniel Critchlow, Cheddie Jagan, Martin Carter,  Eusi Kwayana, Derek McLeod, Rory Westmaas and the Enmore Martyrs among others.

We also grew up enjoying the fruits of living in old Guiana while turning a blind eye to the poverty, injustice and inequality that eventually erupted into the interracial strife that characterised the 1960s and 70s and to some extent carries on into today. I was guilty of turning on the blinders as were most other middle class Guianese. I can point with pride however to members of my family who also stood against corruption.

My family, the Burrowes, were almost all civil servants when civil servants were actually servants of the people.  My grandfather was responsible, for among other things, vetting Government contracts to make sure they were good for BG. He ignored a warning that a contractor was a friend of a high official and rejected a contract, and lost his job.

My uncle Bunny, who worked for the Labour Department, wrote a report that was critical of the living conditions of the sugar workers on the estates and when he refused to amend it was also fired for his integrity. He later became Colonial Secretary in Barbados so this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, but our family was split forever.

There have been many other Guyanese (Guianese) throughout our history who have given us reason to be proud of whom we are. Here is a list of just a few: Eusi Kwayana, E.R. Braithwaite, Lance Gibbs, Captain Howard Nobbs, E.R. Burrowes, Basil Butcher, Pat Cameron, Lynette Dolphin, Alvin Kallicharran, Jan Carew, Colin Croft, James Ramphal and his son Sonny Ramphal, Robert ‘Bobby’ Moore, Bertie Chancellor, Rohan Kanhai, Ken Snake Hips Johnson,  Moulder, Reds Pereira, Vibert Cambridge, Clive Lloyd, Ron Savoury, John Douglas, Admiral John Cunningham, H.A.M.  Beckles, Stephen Camacho, and Rev John Wray. These are just a few of the many and I would encourage you to look them up on the internet as I have.

These are our forebears and their blood runs in our veins and their aspirations for the future of Guyana gives me great hope as I look forward to a future in which all races are proudly Guyanese as we become one nation, one people and one destiny.

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  • the only  On 06/23/2019 at 2:15 pm

    you forget my uncle LFS BURHNAM.

  • Yuvraj Ramsaroop  On 06/24/2019 at 2:01 pm

    Please look up “Realizing the American Dream”
    The Personal Ttriumph of a Guyanese Immigrant
    Yuvraj Ramsaroop

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/27/2019 at 4:26 am

    the only: You failed English comprehension – I see?!?!!

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