At Mackenzie things were done in style

Dear Editor,

The Sunday Stabroek  of Nov 20 in ‘The world beyond Georgetown’ featured Mackenzie, and obviously I read it.  Then curiously I thought, wasn’t the name Mackenzie supplanted with the name Linden?  This is made so clear to all as the story writer observed, as does almost everyone else upon entering the town, that imposing Digicel sign “Welcome to Linden”.

Indeed this mining town as history has it recorded, was first named after the American/Scottish geologist George Bain Mackenzie, who discovered this brown mineral called bauxite here in 1913; he died in 1915 and bauxite mining started in 1916.  The names Linden and Mackenzie are still used interchangeably mostly by elders in reference to the town.

Grown-ups mostly till now in conversing with each other take pride in saying “Mackenzie/ McCity”; for them the sound of the name – and for good reason – has a nice ring for it brings back that fine feeling of nostalgia, when this “Dusty Town” stood out from the rest of Guyana like a beacon, did things so differently and even enjoyed a certain quality of life – economically and culturally.

This was greatly influenced by the then Demerara Bauxite Company – Demba – management, and which in many ways was the envy of many.  I have to say that except for the growth in population and land expansion along with an increase in housing as ought to be expected, one cannot in all honesty frivolously dismiss the times when Linden was Mackenzie as having been terrible, with any sort of comparative evidence to show in support.

Certainly there has been an expansion in a few and newer businesses, but also we have along the way lost a number of business and services that once serviced this community well. However, few will deny that what we often experience today is the general absence of quality – a vital component of any business.  It seems as if we have sacrificed quality in almost everything; can we truly say that we have made qualitative quantum strides?  That this mining town still possesses a modicum of the magnetism it once had?

Editor, when one wants to reminisce and talk about quality, standards and systems, Mackenzie is the classic example. At Mackenzie things were done in style – nothing wishy washy, no sir!  A notable example was the Mackenzie Hospital. And this is the reason why some old timers would express disapproval upon being addressed as a Lindener: “Hey, I ain’t no Lindener, I is a Mackenzie man – I know bout McCity”; or again one would hear from time to time, “This is not the Mackenzie I know we talking about, we talking about two different place”.

I recall some years ago during an industrial dispute when a labour minister who was sent to deal with the matter referred to the town as “Linden Town” and angry workers who had surrounded him tapped him at the back of his head telling him, “Mackenzie! Linden ain’t gat no town hey”.  Though the story on Mackenzie wasn’t intended to be an historical account on the town or anything elaborate, I think the writer could have enlightened the world beyond Linden a bit more without utilizing extra space.

Apart from highlighting the Hymara Park, which was fine, it offered outsiders very little otherwise.

Could it be that was because there is nothing much Mackenzie any more about Mackenzie?


Yours faithfully,

Frank Fyffe

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