Republican status February 23, 1970 and it was party, party, party here , there and everywhere except in Victoria. Victoria was suffering from PTSD after a period of some slight misfortunes.  Truth be told Victoria used to be 70 percent black and 25 percent Indians and another five percent were dominated by the Portuguese.

The Indians were violently up rooted and had to scant and disperse to neighboring towns and villages and the Portuguese left voluntarily for Canada and the Pomeroon an in some instances Brazil where from a distance, the grass looked greener but landukapaar.     

And so when all the other communities had their peoples intact, Victoria was still adjusting its attitude and latitude to accept more blacks to fill the void created by the politicians.

The Indians worked the farms and every household had a cast net to catch fish and shrimps in the canals. And so when they went farming in the back-dam or fishing, a direct and deliberate spin off of these projects was to weed and clear the dams and trenches.

The Indians also kept the village burial ground spic and span because they felt the black population used to kill their sheep and goat and cows and use the cemetery for storage and disbursement.

And so when Mashramani inaugural celebrations rolled around, blacks had a guilty conscience. The dams were unclean, the canals were clogged and rubbish and garbage became landmarks. That year… Feburary 1970 Mashramani day was a Monday and there were a few buntings and flags but the cleanup campaign fell on its face because the Indians did not feel the feeling and blacks were not motivated to do for themselves.

And so it was not until the Friday preceding the big celebrations that two villagers namely Barabas and Flowers emerge from extended shifts in the gold mining bush. These two self appointed community icons stimulated and motivated the peeps Victoria style.

There was no way of knowing the exact amount of money these two flamboyant gentleman had. They assumed responsibility of all the adult entertainment and provided basic foodstuff and embraced their Indian friends back in the village.

Victoria as you know is divided in two…..Roadside and Backdam side. Barabas is from the roadside and that Friday night he emerged at Cunha. In those days, Cunha was a wholesale and retail liquor store with the barest accommodation for the common and ordinary drinker.  Barabas that evening earned himself another name….a counter revolutionary.  He filled the entire counter with drinks of every hue, stripe and strength.

Flowers on the other hand in a symphonic move took care of the peeps from overline. Flowers was very colorful in his dress, mood and accounting.  liberal would be a better word and when his friend Manu came to buy a sheep for a wuk he had the next day, Flowers walked the village and got the appropriate size sheep and asked Manu to reciprocate by buying a drink.  Manu declined and Flowers took him back to the Bonkia store, the temporary headquarters and called for a quarter.  Manu called for a glass for himself and Flowers told him….LANDUKPAAR….me know what you want but me naah gee.  Me drink me rum you drink yuh sheep.

Saturday morning before bird wife wake, Barabas appeared at Sister Marie Collins shop as she opened around 6:30am and as families arrived with their hand baskets and oil bottle in hand and kero oil can, Barabas paid for the groceries for everybody irrespective of quantum, cost, roadside, backdamside, Black or Indian. He simply did not discriminate for ten hours straight he conducted this exercise.  Some folks came back twice and thrice while others got their offspring to make the purchase.  The more they came, the more Barabas met the challenges.

And on the line top Flowers was decked out in trouserine pants and K shoes with a wife Beater vest to reflect his six pack abdomen. Flowers was no friend of Barabas…..they knew each other from a distance but while Barabas gave groceries, Flowers distributed meat from Lutchman’s butcher shop.  He even gave away sweet drinks but this phase was short lived.

Flowers discovered black folks were taking the drinks by the case and throwing away the contents but returning the empty bottles for a cash refund.

Again Flowers had to revert to his Hindi…..landukapaar….me know what you want but me naah gee.


Adrian Dutchin – I am a Guyanese.


Sling Shot – Guyana Fun Time.

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