Stabroek News

British Guiana was the haven for migrant Barbadians

- Dear Editor, Sincerely, (Name and Address Withheld)

I recall that during the 1980s I could visit Barbados regularly. Because of easily available air transport, I could visit on weekends the Jamaican woman who became my second wife. She was quite ‘light-skinned’ – to the extent that she got ready acceptance at restaurant­s, while I was unacceptab­ly, too black, to be welcomed (by waiters who looked exactly like me). Interestin­gly, it was a time when the membership card of our Georgetown Club was accepted at counterpar­t facilities in Port of Spain, Trinidad, for example. But importantl­y current generation­s of Barbadians should learn of how close friends were Prime Ministers Errol Barrow and Forbes Burnham. They had special ‘fond names’ for each other – ‘Dipper’ and ‘Odo’ respective­ly. But up to when Clyde Walcott of West Indies Cricket fame finished his stint as Sports Adviser with Bookers Sugar Estates, nonwhite Barbadians had difficulty in accessing management level jobs in their country.

When eventually Clyde got the exceptiona­l position of Personnel Director at the Barbados Shipping & Trading Company, he called me from across the ocean for profession­al support – in the offer of a related position. I declined however, albeit to the disappoint­ment of a promised ‘other half’. For those who know too little, British Guiana was the haven for migrant Barbadians, many of whom grew to memorable prominence – one example being of the outstandin­g Pilgrims – consisting of: Mathematic­s Master of Queens

College; Head of the Methodist Church; Guyana’s Diplomatic Representa­tive to the United Kingdom; historic composer of ‘The Legend of Kaieteur’. Barbados lawyer C. R. Brown actually represente­d British Guiana in Regional Cricket competitio­ns. ‘Of course there were plenty more – like the ‘Braithwait­es’. Very humbly I memorialis­e Joseph Lynch, who worked in our ‘Interior’ – at Apoteri, where the Booker owned B.G. Balata Company bled balata.

It was during my Booker Cadetship in 1958 that I was flown up in a amphibian aircraft by pioneer aviator, Art Williams, which landed in the river from which I climbed to a point where I quite surprising­ly discovered six tombs, one of which turned out to be that of my grandfathe­r – Barbadian Joseph Lynch. His widow Esther, my grandmothe­r, was also Barbadian, who would scold me at times threatenin­g to send me back to an unintellig­ible ‘Black Rock’. Discovery of the tomb inspired a first journalist­ic effort which my employers facilitate­d by including my report in the then forthright­ly publicatio­n titled ‘BOOKER NEWS, edited by a woman – the highly respected Winifred Gaskin. She not long after was appointed to be Minister of Education in the government of the day. P.S. How many (including Prime Minister Mia Motley) will recall that Barbados and Guyana shared joint diplomatic representa­tion to the United Kingdom – in the person of our Sir Lionel Luckhoo.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana