GUYANA IS a nation that has a colourful history and is home to several cultures. For this reason, this richness and diversity of our past, it is critical to preserve our heritage. The relevant organisation, The National Trust of Guyana, is a government enterprise whose mandate propels its commitment to the preservation and conservation of historic buildings and sites in Guyana. Therefore, we aim to enlighten the public about various events, aspects, symbols, landmarks and structures which has moulded our rich and diverse heritage.
August is a special month in Guyanese history, as it is during this time that credence is given to cause of Emancipation in Guyana, although not forgetting that it is also the month during which we commemorate the legacy of one of Guyana’s finest leaders and political activists, our former President Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, Born February 20, 1923, died August 6, 1985.
The year 2010 marks the 25th death anniversary of His Excellency Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, who served Guyana in the capacity of Prime Minister and later as the Executive President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. Among the most outstanding political activists in Guyanese history, he was a successful barrister who returned to Guyana in 1949. Along with Dr. Cheddi Jagan, he founded the People’s Progressive Party before he formed his own party, the People’s National Congress in 1957. Leading Guyana into Independence, he promoted self-sufficiency as a means of strengthening our economy.
The value of his achievements and contributions to our country’s development caused a memorial to be constructed to commemorate his life. He was interred at the Place of the Seven Ponds also known as the National Shrine of Guyana’s Heroes in the Botanical Gardens. A grand mausoleum of reinforced concrete was constructed in the shape of a crucifix to house his tomb. The outer design is decorated in clay while the interior is carved in brass plates depicting various aspects of his political career.
The tomb, constructed of local materials, includes granite from the Essequibo, glass briquettes formed from sand and jasper rocks from the Orinduik. Featuring a greenheart base it rests upon a granite plinth with plaques on either side, one with his name and achievements inscribed while the other is decorated with a motif of a palm tree, the logo of his political party.
This monument like many others across Guyana are collectively our heritage and the history from which we have all emerged and so, it is imperative that we ensure its continuity. To this end, the National Trust of Guyana, which undertakes to promote and safeguard the nation’s heritage, invites the members of the community to take an active role in ensuring the long term survival of Guyana’s patrimony by exercising care and respect at all times when visiting monuments and heritage sites. (Bhavana Gossai is a Research & Documentation Officer at the National Trust of Guyana)