WHICH WAY YOU’RE GOING BILLY?                   02 07 2012


My best recollections of Mashramani celebrations were during the first MASH in February 1970, dancing to the strains of ‘Nona Permaul and the Playboys’ at Rollo Young’s ‘CLUB-65’ in Buxton.   I can recall the dashiki outfit and the anxiety about buying my own beer and spitting back in the bottle to conserve.  Nothing has changed.  And so I just want to reflect and genuflect about expectations and boog-a-loos politicians promise and end up with cat-boil.

The song that incentivized me and had me going round and round and begging for a next dance is hardly known to most people unless you are my age.  Up to this day, I have a thing about the song and it still reverberates in my head 42 years later; it is more a question…WHICH WAY YOU’RE GOING BILLY by the ‘Poppy Family.’ (First released in 1969).  A lot a lot a people cannot answer this question don’t matter who ask them and how they ask them. 

This was a loaded song and Nona gave it the full treatment with Zorena Ally on the vocals and they played twice in the three sessions. Amazingly, it was like a concert when they sang this song – the people stopped dancing and were transfixed as they listened to its lyrics. Also, that night it rained and the atmosphere and atmospherics made it cozy, crisp and warm.  Today, I can ask that same question again but with a slight variation…which way we going comrade?

These days almost everybody has a cell phone and Facebook yet we cannot find answers as to where we going and how we getting there.  The most famous and or frequently asked question when you call anybody on their cell is “where are you.”  The response is always lackluster in a GT context because even though the person may be at home or in the car, they never feel safe or confident to give an assured point, position or place where they are.  The question is always ducked; the person always walks aside.  Sounds familiar right?

Not very many people my age are still coherent and capable of understanding where we were and where we came from and where we are going back to.  Sometimes to understand, you have to stand under someone but the caliber of people that we have to stand attention to and stand with, have so much to be desired.

The hallmarks of industry, hard work and sacrifice have all been thrown out with the bathwater.  Guyanese have to be content with chutney music and never get a chance to hear lyrics that ask the deeper questions and seek graceful answers. Every day is a gunshot and if you sip and chat, you can be called and hauled to the courts for treason.  You cannot even make a sign with your finger.  You always have to have a salara something…red car, red house, red dress, red eye from smoking weed or a red woman…that too does wuk.   Which way we going comrade?

Talking about Buxton in the opening salvo, I am also reminded of a resident who had polio that left one of his feet twist-round or we may refer to as back-to-the-front.  From all indications Billy, this polio victim, emerged to be a pig thief in the village and one rainy day, a farmer discovered his pen looted and a pair of feet going both ways.  The police was called and they made a determination that it was a known and familiar bandit.  This same person who suffered a stroke of polio was investigated and the first question the CID asked him was…Which way you are going Billy?”

Even as a thief you have to know which way you are going.  Who can conceive and much less believe farmers in Black Bush…Johanna, Lesbeholden or Yakusari can burn tyres and block roads in protest of poor drainage and irrigation.

When bad things happen in Guyana, Buxton is always labeled.  Buxtonians, in my time, feathered the cabinet with stalwarts like Frank Hope, Malcolm Parris, Haslyn Parris and George Durant – Minister in the Government.  The financial institutions and NIS were peopled by Buxtonians at every level; so too was the Police and military services.  Recently, these comrades have been used and abused at the drop of a kangol.

Buxton used to have five baker shops; now they have one.  The next time you go down town and see a man with a pan loaf in his hand…ask him “where you going comrade?”  He is sure to shout out Buxton, Friendship, Melanie or even Annandale or Brush Dam.  All a dem is one family.

Jagdeo allocated some money to recondition and remodel Tipperary Hall but at the same time disbanded masquerade bands and laid off some public service employees and denied some others scholarships for high learning overseas.  Jagdeo got 18 votes from Buxton because they felt he should get “cat-boil.”  Some of them know damn well that certain sectors you do not trust unless ‘90’ days pass.  The Poppy family question still remains…WHICH WAY YOURE GOING BILLY?

Two generations have come and blackouts seem to be a fixture.  Floods seem to be a centerpiece and discrimination a way of life.  There are twice as many questions and no answers especially when it comes to the disappearance of little boys and girls from Buxton.  Each day, the silent cries grow louder about “when will I see you again” as both mothers and fathers huddle their offspring and shove them off in mini-buses, city bound.  The community used to be the cradle of success via education but those days are long gone.  This writer will side step and be truthful to himself, and repeat the question at hand – WHICH WAY YOU’RE GOING BILLY?

Ewalt “Waltie Ainsworth” –  jenewalt@aol.com

One response to this post.

  1. Reading this brings back a lot of great memories as I as a young man performed at all of those spots with Curtis & The MG’s. This is truly refreshing!!!!



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