By Francis Quamina Farrier
THERE is the village of Buxton on the East Coast of Demerara, Region Four, Guyana. There is also the city of Buxton which is located in Derbyshire in the East Midlands region of England. I know both places, having been to both – one on many occasions, the other just once. That English Buxton at 960 feet elevation, is the highest above sea level of any town in England. Its population is 23,000. Though not as large, or as populated as its English counterpart, the Guyana Buxton is one of the lowest villages in Guyana, being almost about seven feet below sea level at high tide. At this time (2020) its population is approaching 6,000.
To juxtapose a few other things between the two Buxtons: the English Buxton has a railway service, while the Guyana Buxton HAD a railway service. The English Buxton has a market. The Guyana Buxton HAD a market. The English Buxton has many canals. The Guyana Buxton also has many canals. In the English Buxton, there is an Opera House and the Guyana Buxton has the Tipperary Hall. In both Buxtons are many Christian churches. The English Buxton is very popular in the UK. The Guyana Buxton is very popular in the Cooperative Republic.
While there is an open-air market on the Buxton line-top, one of the issues already being discussed within the Guyana Buxton community at this time, is consideration to re-establish the historic village market. “I am in full support of reopening the Buxton market,” said prize-winning dramatist and journalist Mosa Telford, who is a Buxtonian. She also informed me that, “Many Buxtonians have returned to agriculture. The market attracts people from other communities because the produce is organic.”
There was a period about 15 years ago when the farming backlands of the Guyana Buxton became the sanctuary of some shady characters whose presence was a deterrent to farming. That is now a thing of the past. Farming is blooming once again. However, better drainage and irrigation is necessary for this low-lying community, especially for successful agriculture.
History reveals that the village of Buxton in Guyana was bought by emancipated African slaves shortly after Emancipation. The British overlords who ruled the colony at that time never considered that such villages as Buxton, Victoria, Queenstown and others, should have been awarded to the former enslaved as reparation for the free service they had given for 400 years. Instead, the Africans had to purchase the communities — and at inflated prices. The citizens of the Buxton in England never had such an experience as being enslaved. Yes, that town was once occupied by the Romans many centuries before, but the people were never held in such bondage as the Africans in the Guyana Buxton.
From a past of slavery, the Guyana Buxton has produced some of Guyana’s greatest sons and daughters — especially in the field of education. They include two former Ministers of Education, Winifred Gaskin and Malcolm Parris. Other well-known high achievers from Buxton include former government minister Sydney King/Eusi Kwayana. Now in his 90s, Kwayana, the author of many books, plays, and poems, is regarded as the sage of Buxton. There is also former Chief Education Officer Gaston Fox, and retired Headmistress of The Bishops’ High School, Joy O’Jon. University Professors Dr. David Hinds, Barbara Thomas-Holder and Gordon Payne. Buxtonian Haslyn Parris was the youngest CEO of the Guyana Bauxite Company at Linden. He was also an accomplished musician. Guyana’s dedicated and best-known archivist Tommy Payne is also a Buxtonian.
The well-known Federal Management Systems establishment which is based both in Georgetown, Guyana and in Washington, DC, USA, was founded by Buxtonian Aubrey Stephenson, AA. This company employs approximately 400 in Guyana and 125 in Washington, DC, USA. Federal Management Systems, Inc. also gives education grants and scholarships to many young people both in Guyana and in the USA. The company has sponsored many projects of the Guyana Embassy in Washington, DC. over the years.
Another Buxtonian Businessman who is based in Washington DC is George Abrams. In 2017, he established The Primo Garment Establishment in the village which employs eight villagers. Another Washington, DC-based organisation, CIMBUX, sponsors many projects in Buxton. The most recent is the establishment of a museum in the village.
The reality is that it would take volumes and many authors to write a true and detailed history of the village of Buxton, East Coast Demerara, Region Four, Guyana. The history of the English Buxton is already well documented, going many centuries back to the Roman occupation. Though not as large, developed or populated as the Buxton in England, Buxton here in Guyana has an extremely rich and proud history. Incidentally, some African people are residing in the English Buxton.
I end by disclosing that while visiting the Buxton in England in 1982, I took the opportunity to send a few picture postcards from that English town to friends in the Guyana Buxton. On those picture postcards, I wrote the salutation, “Greetings from Buxton to Buxton.” Of interest now, is whether there will soon be repatriation from Buxton to Buxton.