By Francis Quamina Farrier
A FEW months ago, I wrote an article which had the headline, “From Buxton to Buxton” which juxtaposed the town of Buxton in England and the village of Buxton here in Guyana. Since writing that article, I have done a two-hour walkabout in the Guyana Buxton. During that exercise in which my 83-year-old feet did admirably well, I saw and experienced much of modern-day Buxton in Region Four. I have to say I was impressed, especially with the people with whom I had verbal communication. The Buxtonians with whom I spoke during that walk were like the famous Buxton Spice mangoes – oh, so sweet. Since it is no secret that there are some Guyanese who go out of their way to demonise some communities such as Albouystown and Tiger Bay in Georgetown and other communities around the country, including Linden and Bartica, I will share a few of my personal experiences, before I say something about Buxton.
One Saturday afternoon some years ago, I decided to take a walk along James Street in Albouystown, Georgetown. At that time, I was a regular feature on the VCT Evening News, reporting from all corners of Guyana and also from many locations overseas, including Argentina, Britain, Canada, Ghana, Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad. So, with my expensive video camera, I commenced walking from the La Penitence Public Road by the municipal market, eastward along James Street. I was videorecording whatever I fancied – and that was almost everything. However, I applied my professional and moral rules. Whenever the footage included a person or persons, I would ask permission – which was not necessary, since anything or person in the public domain can be photographed. Well, with a few exceptions such as military installations. For me, it was just a matter of good manners to ask. That is my way of doing my public video recordings. At one point of that walk along James Street, one young man hailed me out, asking that I promote the legalisation of marijuana.
Without a doubt, Buxton being among the lowest altitude sections on the East Coast of Demerara, has a drainage challenge. At about nine feet below sea level at high tide, farmers face the many floods which besiege the village, including the farms in the backlands. Nonetheless, Buxtonian farmers have continued to till the land which produces bountifully. There is always fresh farm produce available in all of the municipal markets in Guyana, and our farmers, including the Buxtonian farmers, must be recognised.
In another way, Buxton has produced some of the greatest and highest-achieving Guyanese, among them educators Eusi Kwayana and Winifred Gaskin. Both of them served as ministers of government. There are the Buxtonian twins – Malcolm and Michael Parris; Malcolm served as Minister of Education. There was also the brilliant and talented Haslyn Parris, who at one time and at a rather young age, headed the Bauxite Company at Linden;he was also a talented trumpet player. And of course, there was the genius legal mind, Barrister-at-Law Fred Wills. The soft-spoken Eusi Kwayana, educator, politician, songwriter, poet, playwright and community leader, is one of the outstanding sons of Buxton. He is known and respected by generations of Guyanese, many of whose lives he has touched positively. I recall his play “The Promised Land” which won Best Production at the 1965 National Drama Festival in the Junior category. Singer/songwriter Hilton Hemerding was in that play.
This article will now throw the spotlight on another Buxton-born Guyanese, Aubrey A. Stephenson, AA. He is the President and CEO of Federal Management Systems, Inc., which is established on two continents – North and South America. Federal Management Systems employs many dozens here in Guyana and many more in Washington DC, USA. The company provides the following services; Accounting and Financial Management; Facilities Management; Information Technology and Security Solutions among others. Other extra-curricular activities of this organisation headed by a Buxtonian, include giving scholarships and grants to deserving students to further their higher education.
It is obvious that this article, written for August 1 2021, is just like one sentence of the story of Buxton village, which the former enslaved Africans bought in British Guiana; and what is not generally known, is that the purchase price for the land was greatly inflated. Nonetheless, back in the day, the African people came out in their numbers celebrating their freedom with dancing and singing. Among the songs was one which stated, “First of August come again. Hurray meh gingah.” And as Guyana’s own Singer/songwriter Eddie Hooper states in his song Pass it on, “Get on board, time to move on…stop complaining, quit your stalling. Get up keep moving on.” Happy First of August 2021 to all Guyanese.