Living in Guyana makes one very aware (I have written about this, as have others) that we simply don’t know many aspects of our country’s history that are essential to propelling us to see it in terms of unity as opposed to division.
The litany of Guyana’s woes continue every day; we all know the instances, as we are regaled with examples coming from established columnists, various letter writers, and social media platforms.
The sudden transformations in societies – email, cell phones – are often the result of an equipment revolution, and we spot them quickly; the slower transformations occur so slowly that we don’t even notice the shift until some sudden circumstance makes us aware.
Sometimes, epiphanies come in pairs. A few months ago, for example, after a lovely evening with visiting poet John Agard and his wife Grace Nichols (plus a few local pals) I had this epiphany where I realized how lucky I am in the number of enchanting friends I have living abroad (Henry Muttoo, Vic Fernandes, Vibert Cambridge, Clive Rosteing, Terry Ferreira) plus, and almost simultaneously, I had the second epiphany – that I owe the friendship of those people to the music I’ve created over the years.
As West Indies cricket reels again from yet another debacle on the field, the clamours are naturally out again for the sacking of the present West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and for the restructuring of the body governing the sport.
I’m a think-positive guy, not from some Pollyanna position, but largely because that’s how my mind works.
I grew up in West Demerara when, unless you owned a boat, the only way to cross the Demerara River was the various government ferryboats operating between Georgetown and Vreed-en-Hoop.
One of the shocks for people new to Guyana is the frenetic driving behaviours on our roads – drivers cutting in and out of traffic; driving in the opposing lane to get ahead of traffic; obviously intoxicated drivers; ignoring stop signs; running red lights – the list goes on.
The absurdities are everywhere, conspiring to tax your brain when it needs a break.
I grew up in Guyana hearing that our capital was labelled ‘The Garden City of the Caribbean’, but it was something that never engaged me.
Someone approached me out of the blue this week outside a store on Sheriff Street to ask for advice on the music business; he was not a musician, but interested in recording and was wondering how to proceed.
One of the things that emerged with renewed vigour during the run-up to the recent elections, and continuing since, is the argument that Guyana must address the dilemma of the ethnic divide that is hanging like a millstone around the country’s collective neck.
Recent returnees to the homeland may not know this, but longtime dwellers who have endured through successive Guyanese governments will tell you that finding the person responsible for a particular aspect in the various departments set up to serve us is an almost impossible task.
Guyanese under 30 years of age will likely have no knowledge of it, but there was a time in our country when there was a ritual, common in many of the middle class homes, that involved the process of bringing wood floors to a shine by buffing them by hand using wax.
It was talked about frequently during the years I lived in the Cayman Islands, but it hasn’t happened yet.
A reader asked me in a recent blog (actually, he asked me twice) why I continue to live in Guyana despite the problems.
In recent years, in an effort to diversify its economic base, Guyana has been putting increasing emphasis on improving and expanding its tourism industry, a push to which the private sector has responded and from which some results are already apparent – sport fishing in the Rupununi; various bird-watching tours around the country; foreign yachts in the Essequibo, etc.
Our Caribbean cricket woes continue to make headlines with a variety of explanations and theories ranging from lack of systems, insularity, inefficient West Indies Cricket Board, aborted tours, etc.
Among the many interesting aspects of my time in Tradewinds going back to 1968 was becoming familiar with some of the popular performers of the day, many from Trinidad.
Two people in a chance encounter recently asked me what were my favourite songs – whether something I wrote or from another song-writer – and I was in a hurry and promised to write them a reply, but I lost their email (I hate being late, and I was truly in a hurry), and in my embarrassment I’m hoping to redeem myself today by answering them now via this column My favourite from my own work is usually the song I’ve just finished writing.
From a boy of 10 or so, growing up on West Dem, it was there in front of me – the difference between Indians and Blacks, what we refer to today as the ethnic divide; I never heard the term back then.
A very wise woman, who also happened to be my mother, once told me: “If you know something good or hear something good about somebody, you should pass it on.” Today I’m doing as instructed by telling you about a few gems I stumbled on recently.
Over time, numerous experts in a range of fields have come to Guyana and contributed expertise, training and sometimes equipment to various sectors of our economy.
At the outset, I’m not a big techno guy. As the new gadgets come out, I’m often one of the last ones to get on board.
Following recent musical explorations in the country, including Dr Vibert Cambridge’s excellent book, Musical Life in Guyana, the current depressed state of our music industry is once again a topic of discussion.