Mar 15, 2009 News Comments Off on At 109, Sonny Hendricks longs to see the city again before he dies
By Dale Andrews
At 109 years old many people will either be retired to bed being assisted by others while waiting for the maker to call them home.
But Sonny Hendricks, arguably Guyana’ oldest living male, still attends to his two acres of land at Moco Moco in Region Nine, 14 miles from Lethem, tending to his watermelons, pumpkins, cassava, plantains and bananas.
In fact when he spoke to this newspaper, one of his requests was for a new shovel to put down some more suckers and a strong desire to visit Georgetown.
There is ample documentation to confirm Hendricks’ age and many of the old residents of the community have attested to the fact that he has been on this earth long before them.
His disposition would be the envy of most people half his age, but Hendricks does not plan to stop, although age has slowed him down somewhat.
Relatives informed that he is not one to stay at home but would venture out into his farming plot and sit under the suckers from where he would direct the show.
He must be doing something good because over the years, the crops have been getting better and better.
Born December 1900 in Berbice, Hendricks moved with his parents and other siblings to the fertile Region Nine area in his early teens.
In those days there was little farming and Hendricks soon became fascinated with the popular vocation in the area at the time, cattle rearing.
He was a cowhand and since this entailed riding horses, like most other teenagers in the community, he stuck to the task for several years.
Fishing and horses were the life for him, since according to Hendricks, the place was full of thick bushes and the prospect of going into land farming was daunting.
And even if he did try his hand at farming, selling his produce would have presented an additional burden.
He recalled that in the early 1900’s small aircraft was the only means of transportation in and out of the Rupununi and except for neighbouring Brazil, there would have been no avenue to market his produce on a large scale.
But the urge of being his own boss soon overwhelmed him and he ventured into farming, when with the passing of time, he began raising his own family.
By then the community was expanding and Hendricks saw that he could earn a decent living from a plot of land he had marked out at Moco-Moco.
It has been that way ever since.
At first it was hard work, he explained, but his persevering mind soon won out and today he boasts one of the better cultivated farms in the area.
He did most of the work himself, having raised three children, two of whom were girls.
From them he got a number of grandchildren and several great and great, great grandchildren, all whom were or are still involved in the farm in some way or the other.
Although he claimed that in the early days of his life he sported, drinking traditional Amerindian beverages and bush rum, he was not one to ‘go after the ladies’.
He had to learn the hard way having lost his father and mother at an early age.
In fact he was nine years old when his mother died and Hendricks is the only one of his family that has lived to a ‘ripe’ old age.
He credits the environment in which he lives for his longevity and declared that with good treatment he probably would live for another decade.
Hendricks presently suffers from shortness of breath and would sometimes lose consciousness, but he said that he is taking it easy.
He advised that young people should be disciplined, listen and obey, avoid drinking alcohol and concentrate on their schoolwork in order to survive in these ‘trying times’.
Now with new gadgets like cell phones and televisions, life is a little bit more complicated for him, but he was conscious to recognise that to survive in the modern world, one has to ensure that they learn how to use them.
With access to the community now much easier, life’s complication is more intense and has caused Hendricks to long for another trip to the city to feel first hand what life outside of Moco Moco and the plantain and banana suckers is like.
He informed that the last time he came to the coast was about 40 years ago and of course much has changed since then.
He expressed the wish that someday he and his 90-year-old wife will be afforded an opportunity to visit the capital city before their term on earth ends.
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