By Ewalt Ainsworth            05 15 2012

CARICOM nationals particularly Jamaicans are setting their GPS systems to the gold mining fields of Guyana after a 20 year hiatus.  These folks from the region who for more than 30 years were encouraged by a previous administration to settle and work panning for gold and planting yams and eddoes by the mountain sides are coming back.

Brazilians are coming too in twice as large numbers and are bringing with them sophisticated equipment and facilities and easy access to food.  These are things the government should be doing but rather the GT pork knockers had to go out there and solicit help.  The government to save face, is handing out and processing at a faster clip licences and work permits.    

The Government too, wants to try its hand at gold mining even though the operatives cannot tell the difference between a sweet man and a beril.  The people from the region should be encouraged at all cost to work the fields rather than to be harassed and criminalized for the same things that they do in so many other sectors of the Guyana economy.  Government has no business in the backdam and should provide all the fuel, chemicals, supplies, health care and other social issues.  Recently the police started operating floating outposts.  What is amusing, the affected area is more than 40,000 square miles.  Georgetown is about 10 square miles and the police has so many problems imagine them in Regions 7, 8 & 9 pooch-punching, not knowing the difference between a sweetman and a beril.

When you live and work in crawl spaces you develop over time a certain hardiness, a can-do spirit; a mutuality and commonality between and among the posses that surpasses all human understanding. Bush men once they go pass Bartica, have to be cable ready.  They have to be steely, steadfast and be stick-to-itive and sincere.  They also have to know the difference between a beril and a sweetman as distinct from a real diamond.  Gold in its raw form, is not gold.  It becomes gold after a chemical process.

These men give up all creature comforts, all the computers, cell phones, micro waves, Lexuses and ATM machines and find themselves aback of Imbaimadai, Cuyuni or the Mazaruni.  They do everything with their bare hands with a lungitah (loin cloth) for support.  And each new day each new dawn, their resolve becomes stronger.  The law is laid down and commonsense…the intuitive self takes over and character and characters are formed.  There are no lessons or printed notes but each soul, each survivor soon discovers the difference between a beril and a sweetman as distinct from the real diamond.

These bush men and in limited cases some women move in tandem with their men to eek out a living in the gold mining or coal mining bush.

The bush is not for boys or Sunday school girls. The bush is for the man and woman with the inner strength as distinct from the independent person.  The independent person will not make it in the bush.  It is the person with the inner fortitude who is self motivated and self motivating who makes it in the Potaro or Puruni regions.  The bush man must not be afraid of the tumbling rivers and waterfalls, the looming weather overhead or the shout of the ‘who-you’ birds.  And, most of all, the pork knocker must be prepared to chip up balata leaves or pitch pine bark and soak in creek water and call it callaloo or Ovaltine.

The pork knocker too must not get excited about holidays and birthdays; those things come every year.  The most important thing a bush man must know is the difference between a beril and a sweetman.  These are both stones but have no real value.  They both look like diamond but are mere indicators of what is in the environment.  Berils can fool you and have they fooled so many eh?

What is unusual today about berils and sweetman is that the Government has recently mobilized a  swat team to eject and reject the solo players, the little men in their cabaans (small tent) who made it by themselves and for themselves…some of them 4th generation pork knockers and the Government is forcibly removing them.

Families like the Lesters, Jerricks, Lewis, Fraser, Mahaica, Dublin, Pollydore and scores of others from that Anns Grove/Two Friends corridor who have no other skill and have never signed a pay sheet in their life, are now being forced to cut and run.  The Mining Minister, Robert Persaud is making these steely men’s lives uncomfortable.  They can co-exist but the PPP is so greedy that they want them out.

Gold and diamond is the forte of these men.  Bana-Man has a step son who informed this writer that he had to pay in excess of US 50,000 to air lift his operations from one part of the Mazaruni to another so as to avoid and evade the gun toting policemen.  To date, more than 90 miners have been charged and or forced out of business.  In addition, the police have been rounding up members of the expatriate communities like Jamaica, Brazil and Venezuela.  The Indians and Chinese, who are also stakeholders, can do what they like without fear or repercussions of any type.

One miner explained to this writer that the PPP does not understand the human psyche.  He said that gold miners too often have been stereotyped as criminals and social misfits “but some of wee went to QC and Saints and this is what we do.  We also know that wherever there are elections and gold, there is thievery.  I suspect one precedes the other and the PPP is knee deep in both.”

Again the conversation was about co-existence.  There is enough gold and diamonds for everyone and the heavy handedness of the government is not respected especially in the light of the long years of sacrifice and investment by these small and sometimes solo entrepreneurs.  They are also disappointed too that the government has taken people who have no idea about gold and the difference between a beril and a sweetman, running the most expensive industry in the land.

The miners also feel that before the government rushes in, they should transform the trails into all weather roads, provide duty free concessions for equipment, and establish regional hospitals and cheaper access to food stuff and supplies before bullying them off of their investments.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by francis yvonne on August 17, 2012 at 5:03 am

    I wish if my late brother was around to read this one —


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