First Arrivals: Getting to Guyana first

-Free education - Somewhat expensive

-Don’t speak ill of the dead? Why not?

Since last month I paid tribute to the Emancipation/African experience I’ll offer reflective comments on this month someone decided to deem Amerindian Heritage Month.

(I’ll leave teachers, leaders, activists, wiser minds to really explain to us all the lasting more profound legacy, this heritage that is “Amerindian.” For even that description “American-Indian” –Amerindian – is an original misnomer. Foisted upon us firstly by the “explorers.” However, Amerindian it is. Now just a few historical facts.)

Archaeology, anthropology and human geography have all been utilized to try to determine when specific humans first occupied specific places and spaces on this planet.

How they did that is also the subject of scientific speculation, but with the advent of cutting edge technologies tracing origins and earliest habitations are now narrowed down significantly. There were four theories relevant to the arrival of the first people to our parts when I was a student-teacher.

They came either from Asia or Africa. (Yes, Africa!) The continents of Africa and Asia were much closer to the Americas in Bygone times.) The most persuasive explanation is that these Asian/Mongolian people (“Indians”??) used a land- bridge which once connected Asia to the Americas now buried under the  Bering Strait.

Once these first-comers left the continent’s North and the Islands of the Caribbean, they discovered a South America full of highlands as the llanos, the Pampas, the Savannahs, even the Amazon Valley were as inland seas. Between the Brazilian and Guiana Highlands- part of the long vast Andes (?) Our first people settled.

Later, they were to enjoy the more hospitable rain-forests this Guiana (Shield) was to offer.

Then, now, Identity, politics

No limited space such as this can do justice to the arrival, existence and evolution of the first arrivals here. I expect that during this month much will be recalled. For varying purposes.

So let me share a few personal “interests”, even “concerns.” Do you readers recognize how – all around the Globe- First Peoples have to clamour continuously for their rights?

From Cuba to Canada, Australia to America to Guyana, the countries’ very first citizens always seem to be in distress because they are being denied by those who “arrived” long after they had occupied the territories.

Secondly, for those who seemed contented to live in the mountains and forests, how much should they be “compensated” when others move into their spaces to mine, to build, to occupy? Diverse First Peoples here lay claim to resources for which they were once “Guardians.” But when others developed those resources for transformation into cash how much should be shared with the original occupiers? Governments of Guyana have grappled with these issues for decades yet today there remains rancour from representatives of our first people- the real reps and political pretenders.

In terms of identity and descriptions, there remain nine main groups. Can you name them? Where can we find the Arecunas, the Macusis, the Wapishanas? The late Desrey Fox and I “debated”- over hard drinks- whether to use “indigenous,” “Amerindians”, “First nations”.

We disagreed though I respected her highly- as anthropologist, as historian, as cultural activist for her people. (I favour “First People”.)

As witnessed by the recent Touchau Conference, most “Amerindians” are now more politically aware. When I was a young adult a few of them liked the United Force; then the PPP cajoled. Somehow to me Frankly Speaking, the first people always regarded the PNC with caution – or suspicion. Will they now warm up to President Granger- who has connections to Bartica and Mabaruma? More to come…

Costly “Free” Education

Okay, so nothing in life is really ever “free”.  Even – or especially – Public Education here.

As schools re-opened, last week, partly because of my weekend television Cook Up show, many single–parent young ladies approached me for exercise books and related assistance. Where the Dickens are these “fathers”?

Then the mothers asked me to write or talk about the cost of Free Public School Education these days. $5000.00 for just “registration” at Secondary Schools (for badge, report cards?) $500.00 for a gate pass so that students won’t stray out of the precincts. Specific uniforms, even colour of bags and back-packs. Then, of course, come lessons and book-lists. How “free”!

Speak no ill

Why is it that Western/Christian tradition instructs that no bad, no ill should be spoken when bidding the departed farewell?

Respect? Goodwill? No human could have been all good! So we indulge in a bit of hypocrisy)

What virtue resides in extolling only the positive sides of the deceased? Oh I get it- a positive role- model must be left, for the young especially.

We must never criticise those departed held in high esteem by many- as heroes.  Mandela, Burnham, Jagan, Gandhi, Reagan, “Blackie” London, “Fine Man” – all heroes to some. Never ridicule when dead?

I recall the late Ronald Waddell attempting to burn down a Regent Street Gas Station and being aggressively prevented by the late Leon Fraser and his Black Clothes Squad. I should not recall that? Discuss…


Now ponder seriously….

The AFC’s non-bribable ministers are like all others in the Cabinet! Right?

Baby Ronasha Pilgrim’s murder must attract the attention of the new SMART group advocating for the reform of marijuana laws and treatment.

Her uncle was reportedly “high” on weed – like the fellows who dissected a business woman in Buxton. Addicts and Rehab for high consideration?

At last! The Guyana Olympic Association is looking to finance athletic potential for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Til next week!




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