Humanitarian James Holder dies

Artist and humanitarian James Elliot Holder will be cremated tomorrow after passing away on April 28 at the West Demerara Regional Hospital.

The 76-year-old will be remembered for his numerous contributions in the integration of Guyana’s various ethnicities.
Holder retired officially in 1977 as acting regional development officer. He spent his years working alongside the Wai Wai in Region Nine.

Simon Holder, his son, told Stabroek News that his father was a man who had many stories to tell and had a love of country that no words could express. “He worked with the Wai Wai bringing rice and flour, things they had never seen… I hope people remember his commitment to fostering relationships with the Indigenous people in the interior,” Simon said.

He said his father would take him into the interior where he had the chance to grow up among the various communities and cultures that represent Guyana’s vast multiculturalism.

Holder first began exploring Guyana’s interior when he was hired by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission after graduating from Queen’s College. He spent the 1970s at Kwebanna in the North West District, Region Nine, at Orealla and along the Corentyne River.

Holder spent his time absorbing the cultures he came across and became known as “Jungle Jim”. He began to paint his experiences and was with the National Art Gallery at Castellani House prior to becoming a freelance tour guide in his older years. He chose to work with various tour groups so he could share his knowledge with those who wished to see and be a part of Guyana’s interior.

Holder’s non-scientific anthropological experience is showcased at the Walter Roth Museum through a vast selection of photographs.  He was deeply committed to championing Amerindian causes and education.

Holder worked as an administrator for Queen’s College, Iwokrama and at the Barama Company Ltd.
Holder leaves behind four children and seven grand children to mourn him. He will be cremated at the Ruimzeight Foreshore after a funeral service at 1 pm.

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