Hague is a small West Coast Demerara village located about 12km away from Vreed-en-Hoop. It was once a Dutch plantation and took its name from the capital of the Netherlands. Nowadays it is home to over one thousand people, many of whom are Hindu, and has as its neighbours the villages of Den Amstel and Cornelia Ida. Residents enjoy a potable water supply, electricity, a good access road and the “cool Atlantic sea breeze.”
Stabroek News was greeted by many smiling faces on a visit to the area. The villagers are very welcoming and take pride in saying “I live in Hague.” This newspaper met Indardeo Persuad, 77, a friendly man who expressed his satisfaction with living there.
According to him, the Leonora estate was once the employer of the community, hence most people worked there: “I was a carpenter for over 30 years there… but I left and did a little of joining work… people here know meh good because I used to build a set of fancy cupboard and so, and people would come and mek de order.” He explained that the money he earned working on the estate was sufficient to take care of oneself and family: “I used to work for 75 cents a day; them time da was plenty money…”
Over the years a lot has changed in terms of economic activity. Rice farming is nowadays one of the dominant activities, and most of the families either farm their own land or work for other farmers on the rice lands around. Poultry and cattle rearing along with cash crop farming are also in evidence. On the visit there one family had coconuts displayed to be sold that they had reaped from their own trees.
According to most of the residents the crime rate is low although incidents do occur. “ The most tragic incident I can recall that happen here is a murder which occurred about 20 years ago in the Hague backdam… We don’t get problems here; Hague is a family place… people look into the affairs of each other,” one resident said.
Whether true or false Hague is known for its haunted house which was built originally by Louis de Souza (he owned the Kaiser store on Lombard Street in Georgetown), in the late 1930s. The house was said to be one of the most beautiful on the West Coast and was situated by the waterside on the turn to Den Amstel, with a clear view of the sea. According to residents it was practically a mansion.
However the building was broken down as no one occupied it. This newspaper was told that the legend came about because around 1940, a woman by the name of Betty who was standing by the window looking out to sea with her six-week-old baby in her arms, suddenly collapsed. She was rushed to the Georgetown hospital, but in a few hours she was gone; an autopsy later revealed she had died of a blood clot.
The residents related that the suddenness of this tragic incident was disturbing to Hague folks. Some of the older residents said that in the months that followed there was speculation about “spirit tekkin she.”
Sherry Narine, who came into the area only a few years ago, related that she rears poultry along with her husband Kamal Husain, who is a butcher, and sells to the villagers. During the visit cattle could be seen housed in a large area in her backyard. “We have a lot of cows and chickens in the pens… in the afternoon we
feed the animals…it is a nice business to get involved in.” She noted too that she enjoys the freedom of the area. “Here is a very quiet community people don’t mind your business… You can be free to express and free to be yourself… the neighbours are very nice people.” Two of the things that impressed her about the community were the “black water creek” and the large land space. “Girl here is one of the best places…and in the nights too I relax on my veranda and enjoy the cool breeze.”
Sunil Yadunauth, 32, described himself as a family man. He said that during the afternoons he spends quality time with his two daughters riding along the streets. Born and raised in the area he said that he lived a very simple but comfortable life. According to him Hague is a home away from home. “One visit here you would not want to leave… visitors are treated so special by the people.” He too praised the quietness of the place, and said the only sounds are
the prayers in the masjid during the early morning hours. “De people come very early to pray… they take their religion very seriously… but sometimes they wake people up so early in the mornings.” Being a rice farmer, he said that he wakes up very early to leave for work. Reflecting on his younger days he said, “Me and me boys would swim all day… I even swim on the sea wall sometimes… oh how I miss those days.”
When seeking recreational activity people hang out at the Sea View Springtide Beer Garden and hangout bar, while others host weekend picnics and bush cooks at the seawall. Some of the youths, however, expressed their disgust that there is no playfield found there. Stabroek News was told that a nursery school had been built on part of the land while the other part is occupied by animals who graze on the grass and eat the garbage which is dumped there sometimes.
There are a few small family businesses in the area and most residents shop at the Meat Centre and Supermarket.
Catering for medical needs is the Outreach Pharmacy and Dental clinic. As far as education is concerned, there is a nursery school, but primary school children go to Cornelia Ida while secondary students mostly travel to Vreed-en-Hoop or Leonora.
Roshnee Bodhoo, Miss India Guyana 2011 is a resident who takes pride in saying “I am happy that I live in Hague.” The Bodhoo family are known to many of the villagers because during holidays such as Diwali and Phagwah they would share sweetmeats to the villagers. Stabroek News was given a warm welcome by the ‘Queen,’ a simple but confident woman. According to her the community is tightly knit because of the many social activities which take place there.
As far as spiritual needs are concerned, she related that people attend the Bahai class, the Mosque, Mandir or Roman Catholic Church. The building was established in 1971 and the priest of the church is Father Alex Perez. Itemising the advantages of living in Hague she noted “there is Bahai class held every Sunday, Sunday school…and the list can go on… I even teach dancing at the mandir.” Hague is one of the best villages, she continued, adding that the people are very cooperative. “One time it had a fire in the area… girl by the time one person called everybody phone was ringing… before you know it people were on the scene throwing water and rendering their help.”