For someone who grew up in modest circumstances and very limited exposure to what Guyanese in those days referred to eerily as the “outer world”, I ended up in a musical career with Tradewinds (something simply unthinkable for me when I left Guyana) which led me to spend time in a number of places in what is widely referred to as “the West”. I lived in an apartment in Toronto, with my first wife, Dorothy Walker, later a suburban house of our own there, and, later still, a home on the island of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, in an area called Northward, with my second wife, Angela Ebanks, but I had also been almost everywhere in the Caribbean (except Saba and Barbuda) and across the US and Canada with Tradewinds since 1966.
I had grown both as a musician and a person in the Toronto years, and, incidentally, became more of a “Caribbean man” living there than I had been back in my native Guyana. I’ve written before about the cultural awareness that was originally propelled by a linguistic class at Ryerson University there, and of the hands-on process of learning the music business at a level I could never have found in my homeland. As it is with most immigrants, Canada widened and strengthened me in a number of ways in the 22 years I lived there, and left me with a respect and an affection for things Canadian, among them the hockey Maple Leafs recently in the Stanley Cup chase.
But looking back on my life, I see pivotal influences, too, from the 25 years I spent in Cayman before returning to Guyana nine years ago. One of them was a better awareness of Caribbean behaviours and influences, and an understanding of the Caribbean tourist economy, partly through the connections of my second wife, Angela, who had been the country’s Director of Social Services and its Director of Tourism for several years…..