By Ewalt Ainsworth                                03 16 2012

My GT favorite politician of all times was Cde Kenneth Hopkinson former Regional Chairman of Essequibo and cousin of Prime Minister Dr Ptolemy Reid.  Cde Hopkinson was simply bright and beautiful and born before his time; they made him so.

In 1978 when he was appointed chairman in  Essequibo, yours truly was cherry-picked to be in his office as a jankilar.  Every day the Cde Chairman worked as if ‘they-do-he.’  His ambition was to put a human face, a personal touch to the every need of every farmer without regards to race.  In the end the region became self sufficient and Hampton Court cricket ground and thousands of acres of virgin farms under the Tapsakuma Irrigation Scheme were harnessed and became productive.  Regular flights from both Hampton Court and Capoey were scheduled; Bonny Young became a prominent hotelier; a Jamaican national converted all the guava bushes into food and Cousin Valerie and Mary Williams started exporting Amerindian craft and Kayman Sankar moved into Other Crops.  There were scores of other firsts and no seconds.  Everybody piggy-backed off of Cde Barjee – the Chairman.  ASOMELYKAM.

The first  symbolic thing he did was to dismantle the air conditioning unit in his prestigious office and donate it to the children’s ward of the Suddie Hospital “so that the farmer’s children can get good health and be strong.”  That was Cde Hopkinson thru and thru.

Whenever he went to visit any school or educational project the children had to rise and sing lustily BORN IN THE LAND OF THE MIGHTY RORAIMA…..  John Yates, then G.M. at AGRI-bank made the mistake of turning up late for a farmer’s meeting and Cde Hopkinson disallowed him from entering the premises.  Cde Hopkinson humbled the current LAPARKHAN executive and chartered a course of respect for the farmers and warned “you are not gonna come here and piggy back on these people and puff up youself; they (farmers) come first and me come second.”  You either love him or hate him and Cde Hopkinson never hated you back.  ASOMELYKAM.

He was aged and always dressed in work clothes and cultivated a slim appetite.  When farmers came knocking, he would return to the scene of the crime and wade in water waist deep beckoning “let us go and see; trees and sheep do not lie.”  Late nights on farms and pig pen in the Pomeroon, Leguan, Hogg Island and Wakenaam were always challenging but a learning experience for all affected parties.

He was known to many and all of Region Two as Comrade Barjee.  I loved him, admired and appreciated him, not because of his rustic charisma but most of all because of his brilliant ideas.  He dismissed the graduates from Tuskegee who had come back en-masse in 1976 to complete their research and questioning the husbandry and cultural practices in the rice belt.  Cde Barjee said “imagine dem dis  a come ask me bout rice now and when dem come back next year me gotta piggy back on them to plant rice and raise hog; leh them go da side.”

One of the students he was talking to and about was a dear friend and now deceased, Cde Huburn Weaver.   Translating, Cde Barjee was very critical of air-conditioned mentality farmers, who because of their expertise were making agriculture into an intellectual exercise.  Cde Barjee was concerned about the price of raising a baby then; as raising a hog was more expensive than raising a baby and so on and so forth.

More so, he was concerned about the researchers to graduate, are talking with the farmers and when they graduate, the farmers have to piggy back on their recommendations and position papers.  “Landu-kapar” was his favorite response.

Cow’s milk in North America hovers around US6.00 per gallon.  Guyana under the exigencies of the PPP has now hoping to discover oil and are running with it.  In the US,. A gallon of oil hovers around US4.00.  The oil in GT will not be immediately available.  The date for the oil to gush thru the pipelines is still a secret but a good cow calf can start giving milk before Beryl or Bowjee gets pregnant again.

Everybody needs milk and it can be produced in every backyard.  You do not need a specialist or a graduate from Tuskegee or Germany like GECOM executive Dr Steve Surijbally to come tell you how to milk a cow.  Playing with the tits of a cowbubbie is not rocket science.

Each one can teach one and piggy-back off the other and have a program, a plan and can feed the nation.

Recently I bumped into a man… a shoemaker’s son from Anna Regina, at the local ATM in New Jersey.  It was slightly after church and he was telling me of his last trip to GT, and an upcoming one for Easter.  The most striking thing about the conversation was that he had taken home one million packets (four in each packet) of Centrum, a nutritional supplement.  This Easter, he confided in me that he is buying cranberry juice at US1.77/litre and selling at US6.00 each in Guyana.

Like Barjee, this man is a farmer.  When we met in 1976 he had a supervisory position at the Guyana Rice Board holdings south of ‘Regina.  He piggy-backed off the ideas of Barjee and did his own import/export business.  He spends more time in Guyana farming because of better global prices for food – “but as you know the wife and children here and so I gotta to come; I does deh both sides,” he said.

Shoe-maker son even floated the idea about the North American and European embassies moving to the regions like CARICOM did in Essequibo and run the rice mills and invest in appropriate technologies and food.  CARICOM manages and operates the ‘Regina factory that supplies rice to the entire region.  Guyana has squandered its ability to produce bulk rice and now depends on industrial food from North America.  Sugar is also imported from the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.  Chicken, fish and meat is imported from China and Brazil.  Marijuana on the open market is cheaper than cigarettes.

A recent news report out of the Carolinas, Alabama and Florida suggests that Obama will win the elections coming up in November because he has re-invested in Agriculture and this has given Southern folk the impetus to support him, big time.  Black folks in GT can piggy back off of that idea and win their own elections.  ASOMELYKAM.

New vistas, new opportunities abound in every region.  My ‘Regina friend does not pin much hope on what he cannot see “plus dem coolie done deecide how that oil money go spend; yuh think any go left for me and you?”

A trip to Charity or Mibicuari reveals that ten miles outside of these centers, the smell of rotten food penetrates the air.  The PPP is never concerned about the little things, the minute things in life.  They are there for the “shock and awe” effect.  Big money wine.

People of color already have the needed raw materials; the land, the smarts, the patience and tolerance to redirect their energies into farming.  If grass can grow, so too can food or a hog.  The idea is to piggy back off the Barjees of the world, and get going Guyana.


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