PROFILE: Extraordinary People – Godfrey Chin 1938-2012 – By Ian McDonald 

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In one conversation with Godfrey, amidst the multitude of evocations that continually cascaded out of his extraordinary memory, he told me about bird-whistling competitions and donkey-cart racing in Guyana long ago and described to me the hundred and one manifestations of that condition of bewitched infatuation in a man or a woman called typee.

Godfrey Chin

I urged him to do extended Nostalgias on all these subjects and he promised he would get around to it. He never did. It is immeasurable how much the nation lost in the passing too soon of this absolutely unique chronicler of Guyana’s rich social history. He left behind a thousand golden threads unwoven into the tapestries which were already making him celebrated.       

Godfrey’s “Nostalgias” entrancingly opened windows on Guyana’s long-forgotten past. When his book of these unique vignettes appeared I welcomed it as follows:

“It is truly a classic of its kind – a recapturing of vivid memories, bringing the past astonishingly to life again in a way which will delight those who knew those days, instruct future generations and also enlighten serious scholars of social history and preserve forever the wonderful days and exploits and fun and excitement and humour and games and more of a whole era in a country’s life. He has done a great service. He deserved praise and thanks and honours. And it is good to think that there are other volumes of Nostalgias waiting to be published in the future. This will be his life’s masterpiece – a five-volume “Remembrance of Things Past.”

Godfrey Chin Website Link

Godfrey Chin – “Nostalgias”

If Godfrey’s many friends here and in the diaspora had been canvassed it would have been discovered that he was working on scores of projects – some just more of his famous Nostalgias, some major historical investigations, all precious. Not long before he died I spoke to him about a project close to my own heart – the compilation of the histories of all sports in Guyana. All of them, as well as the great clubs, deserve to have their stories written.

I was going to suggest to the Ministry of Sport, the Sports Council and the Guyana Olympics Association that they commit themselves to such a project and for this purpose recruit Godfrey, that human dynamo, that one-man resource team, to assist. Godfrey was hugely enthusiastic and said he would do it like a shot. He already had a lot of the stuff in his archives and in his God-given, unique brain – especially in the case of hockey and squash – and he was ready to accept the challenge. I was full of hope.

The sad if onlys of history are legion. If only Godfrey had returned to Guyana even 5 years earlier or lived ten more years and gone on with the work which  made him legendary, think what a cornucopia of additional Nostalgias, memories, collected documentation, exhibitions of his gradually accumulating thousands of pictures and the unforgettable historical insights we would by now have in our communal possession. What we already have is large and memorable enough – what we might have had is an unsurpassed national archive of our previously lost yesteryears. It is the saddest thing. I can hardly bear to think of what might have been if Godfrey had not lost too soon the race we all must lose.

The papers Godfrey left should be reexamined and a revised and amplified collection of his “Nostalgias” should be published.

**********

Some articles on or by Godfrey Chin – published in Guyanese Online

Godfrey Chin mounts outstanding pictorial exhibition

British Guiana at the British Empire Exhibition, 1924 – By Godfrey Chin + 1924 Video

Brickdam – The Oldest Street in Georgetown Guyana – By Godfrey Chin

Georgetown. Guyana: MAIN STREET – Nostalgia article by Godfrey Chin

Nostalgia 565- Saga of Regent Road and Street – By Godfrey Chin

Georgetown Guyana: Entrepreneurship on Robb Street yesteryear – By Godfrey Chin

Nostalgia 372 – The Fabulous Fifties in Guyana – By Godfrey Chin

The rise and fall of Guyana’s cinemas – By Godfrey Chin

Guyana: The romance of the Georgetown Sea Wall – By Godfrey Chin

Travelling around Georgetown 1843-2011 – By Godfrey Chin

Tribute to steelbands before Mash 1970 – By Godfrey Chin

Nostalgia 433 – Remembering Byron Lee … BY Godfrey Chin

The best of everything: Guyana 1945-1985 – Nostalgia 16 – By Godfrey Chin

The Decade of the Forties in British Guiana (Guyana) – By the late Godfrey Chin + video

Fathers know best – by Godfrey Chin

 

  • DEATH ANNOUNCEMENT and TRIBUTES

Godfrey Chin passes on:- “The street where he lived”

Nostalgic recollections of Godfrey Chin – by Trev Sue-A-Quan

Tribute to Godfrey Chin (1937-2012) – M.G. Joe Singh

Remembering the great Guyanese Godfrey Chin who passed on Jan 16 2012

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Comments

  • Arthur Burrowes  On 06/07/2021 at 12:31 am

    I have read several excerpts from Godfrey Chin’s Nostalgia which prompted me to purchase a copy. My efforts to do so have thus far been in vain. Can anyone help?

  • brandli62  On 06/07/2021 at 9:45 am

    Indeed, I would also love to get my hand on Godfrey Chin’s book. It seems that the book was available on Amazon back in 2016.

  • wally n  On 06/07/2021 at 12:02 pm

    Every time I read similar stories about talented Guyanese here and passed, I know their contributions will all go away like dust in the wind. There should be a centre where history of these people can be stored digitally and can be easily “visited” by all.
    I remember getting my passport years ago and making a donation to St. Georges, thought that was a good idea.All these Guyanese with their big mansions at home, and massive wealth overseas (boasting) could lead the way towards building such such a centre. Anyone in Guyana today, should ask a few young people randomly,Who is Godfrey Chin Johnny Braff King Fighter Dennis DeSouza so many.. also famous scholars,politicians…..So Sad.

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