I was in Region Eight recently and really do marvel at the cleanliness of the community of Paramakatoi, and its orderliness. Those whom I met were proud of their village and hybrid customs. I say hybrid, because of the coastal influence on the beliefs of the people there.
One of the complaints was the dishonest way the government had treated them regarding their firearms which had been surrendered. The men who complained were very emotional. They spoke about coming in contact with wild animals in and around their farms, and about their feelings of helplessness and frustration in not having their firearms.
People who made representation on their behalf were unable to penetrate the attitude of those in authority whom they met. They stressed that their community never had a gun crime as far as their memories go. The community, perhaps, before the advent of the churches, strove in its indigenous ways, fetching water far distances for domestic use; bathing and washing at streams; having to use lamps, torches or solar powered lights. Huts were thatched, there were herbal cures for snake bites, and bows and arrows and jungle traps to capture and kill for food and protection.
One wonders whether making life bearable, in terms of our experience, the pristine and fascinating ways of life of our first people are not being eroded?
Some stressed the preservation of the languages which are unwritten. Why only the intangible aspect of the people?
The different tribes have all displayed, to significant levels, their willingness to integrate with the wider society. Full integration will eventually erase the practice of living in reserved lands. Hence, segregation will be eroded and only ancestors’ land will be emotionally valued. Guyana will, sometime, in the near future be criss-crossed by roads and highways. Our hinterland villages will lose their present nature-blended grandeur. So will many villages. It will be termed progress and development.
(Name and address provided)