—local entrepreneur upholding African culture through family business
YESTERDAY marked 182 years since the Africans who came to Guyana to toil on plantations as slaves received their freedom on August 1st, 1838.
Unknown to many, is the fact that the freed Africans were known for the production of cassava and coconut products, after emancipation, since cassava is more synonymous to our Indigenous peoples.
According to the Department of Public Information, Victoria, the first village bought by the emancipated slaves of British Guiana, in 1839, was one of the biggest exporters of coconut and cassava products.
The farming culture of the village today is still as vibrant as it was more than 180 years ago. However, the manufacturing of cassava products is not as prevalent, DPI said in a press release.
Still upholding the tradition, however, is a modest outlet – Moses’ Cassava Bread Factory – managed by Jennifer Moses, on the western side of the village, a little over ‘the line’.
Moses has been producing a line of cassava products for decades, since the business was passed to her from her mother.
“Is my mother who used to do this work years ago, and I learnt it from her. Since my mother pass away I take it over. And my family coming and work and so on,” Jennifer explained.
Although called Moses’ Cassava Bread Factory, her business is more than just the production of the delectable bread.
“We do Cassava bread, cassareep, quiches-the sweet, we do the sugar one too- and the butter toast,” she elaborated.
Keeping the business in the family, Moses now has eight other family members working alongside her.
Her daughter-in-law, Shanelle Moses, who works as a baker in the business explained the process of baking their infamous cassava bread.
“When you get the cassava you peel it, wash it, then grate it. Then you press it to get out the water, then you refine it back, and when it becomes ‘fine’ then you sift it and then you bake it. When you bake it, you put it in the sun to dry. Depending on how the sun is it takes 2 hours or 2 and a half hours to dry” Shanelle explained.
Moses’ products are distributed countrywide, right from her home in Victoria, to residents of the village, vendors, supermarkets and major retailers.
“I enjoy doing this business because if I get up in the morning and I don’t have a dollar, I just have to light up the pan and God [will] send in someone to come and buy. Yes, so you always would able to get something from it,” Jennifer said heartily.
“It’s very hard work, but still I love it.”
For persons interested in purchasing Moses’ products she can be contacted on telephone numbers 256-0592 or 686-8980.