I noticed that the Press has reported there will be new features for an Annual Portuguese Arrival Day.
It is good and necessary that the media highlight the contributions made by these immigrants brought from Madeira to be part of the labour force on the plantations.
The reasons for the colonial powers to identify persons from Europe are well known and documented.
Even though the Portuguese in Guyana represents the smallest group, it is important that all of our six people recognize, respect and honour the early Portuguese who came.
It is well known that the imperial power who managed British Guiana sought to use the Portuguese in an effort to secure some form of European balance in the population.
As a result, very early there were sensitivities in the colony.
To all, the divide and rule philosophy was strong so you had the cent bread – Angel Gabriel Riot.
However, my personal experience was a delightful relationship with the Portuguese I came in contact with.
In Albouystown, I remember Tunnus, a huge, strong gladiator who along with Buffy at the instance of my mother taught me as a young lad the art of self defence.
In Howes Street, Charlestown, my mother built a well-appointed cottage which was occupied by Joe De Barros and his family. Joe was a Supervisor at G. Bettencourt & Sons and reared bees producing honey. Our relationship was so good I grew up as a child calling him Uncle Joe. I can never forget whenever Uncle Joe harvested the honey from the hives, he would offer me some of the honeycombs. Of course, typical of the indiscretion of a young man, one day, I had more than my fill with results which were terrible enough to teach me discretion. I believe that Uncle Joe’s eldest daughter, Anita is still alive somewhere in North America and should be approaching her 90s.
In my political and personal life, I can never forget the likes of Carl Daguiar who managed the Singer branch in Alvida Road, Mackenzie. Carl was the most trusted person that I knew in the challenges of the 60s. After a campaign outreach in that area in the presence of Joseph Aaron and Norman Chapman, we played dominoes at his home and were fed by his wife Yvette.
She was the personification of hospitality and graciousness.
Earlier, the Administration agreed to make Mackenzie, Wismar and Christianburg a single Community. It was at his home that Carl suggested that the new areas be named in honour of the Founder Leader. I took this idea to Georgetown hence the name Linden.
At the political level we had sterling contributions from the likes of Christopher Kit Nascimento, Eugene Francis Correia, a stalwart in the Bartica and mining community, the Gouveias from Lombard Street and Lodge, Anthony Chaves, the other set of the Daguiars from lower East Coast, the Founder of Modern Optical, Jose Da Silva and of course, John Gabriel Joaquin who in the height of the crisis at a public meeting in Kitty blurted out (we black people must stick together). This drew much laughter from the crowd.
In my public life, I remember a decent, principled and courageous citizen, attorney David de Caires who established Stabroek News. When we come to building monuments for journalists and patriots, David de Caires must be on the priority list.
I believe that Sister Menezes and others will continue to document the work by the descendants who arrived here on 3rd of May 1935 on Louisa Baillie. .
The above represents the warm friendships I shared with persons who are Portuguese and to remind our people that we came in different ships but today we are all in the same boat and must paddle to the beat of an ancestral drum harmoniously to enjoy the fruits that the Creator has given to us – gold, diamonds, timber, bauxite, oil, agricultural lands, and a vision.
And of course, it is safe to say that many Guyanese still look forward to the garlic pork during the festive season.
Thanks to our Portuguese Brothers and Sisters.