Sep 06, 2010 Letters
On Monday 16th September 1968 as an 11-year-old strikingly diffident student, I initiated contact with the village of my maternal grandparents. My guardians at that time were the Ritchies, a family of much bonhomie and great generosity of spirit. The newly constituted school, Smith‘s College, was in many ways a mimesis of the County High School which was founded in 1956 by Sidney King, who was later to become the venerable Eusi Kwayana.
The founding of the County High School concretized Buxton‘s position as a cynosure of revolutionary epistemology and its epiphenomenon anti-colonial pedagogy. During the 1960‘s all roads and indeed rivers led to Buxton. Those who lived within the geographical contiguity of Buxton, quite naturally either walked or rode to access its formal and informal educational institutions, while those who lived farther commuted by trains, buses and cars, amounting to the most salient geodemographic transition in the County of Demerara at that time.
As Guyana‘s village regnant, Buxton led the way in standardizing and systematizing an education ethos which was revolutionary and progressive, at a time when some had been doing their damnedest to protect and sustain the cultural artifacts, structures of affect, framework of ideas and systems of belief that underpinned the colonial political economy.
Education in Buxton was egalitarianist, non profit-motive, accessible to all and all embracing, thereby challenging the colonial ethos of imposed distantiation, alienation, class sequestration, patriarchal hegemony and of course cultural and ethnic alterity. It was in Buxton that I was introduced to African history and Swahili and I cannot recall anyone having been excluded from education because of non payment of fees.
Much has been made of the unpretentiousness, rootedness and groundedness of generations of Buxtonians and the fecundity of professionals emanating from the village. It is my opinion that this is partly due to the embedded procedural informality in accessing education.
Many of the formal education institutions in Buxton during the 1960‘s had their origins in incommodious and unprepossessing buildings with teaching conducted in a deformalized setting. When one‘s education is rooted in such subalternity, one‘s cognitive behavioural adaptations are bound to reflect this.
That is why I suppose, relative to other Guyanese who have experienced notable social mobility there are lower levels of hubristic egotism and hauteur among successful Buxtonians.
The Buxtonians of the 1960‘s were largely deeply aspirational, resourceful, enterprising, altruistic and industrious with an unrivalled passion for learning.
There was the proliferation of bottom house classes everywhere. The students then were intransigently uncompromising in their sedulousness; self-assured but yet self-effacing.
Looking at Guyana today, the elders of the 1960‘s and the founding persons before them would be deeply uncomfortable with the contagion of unabashed cupidity and linearity which are radically at odds with the principles of associationalism and communitarianism which undergird the group evolutionary strategy on which Buxton and other villages had been founded.
The founding persons of Buxton knitted together as one and bought a village at a time when the racist stereotype that blacks weren’t enterprising and entrepreneurial writ large in the colonies. The founding persons of Buxton and of the general village movement defied the negative expectations of the virulent racists.
The effervescence and efflorescence of the 1960‘s in Buxton soon gave way to the evanescence of the 1970‘s.
The period of hope, lift, optimism and dynamism prematurely premorsed. I returned to Buxton in the 1990‘s to a landscape which was no longer a village in the real sense of the word but a national crime scene.
The great village of my childhood which had it a larger population and larger landmass could have justifiably challenged Georgetown to being the legitimate capital of Guyana with such awesome suddenness was no more.
Buxton‘s decline started under the watch of the PNC and accelerated under the PPP/Civic. To transition from dereliction to regeneration, a renascent Buxton will only be possible through self-reliance.
The organisers of the 170th anniversary celebrations have performed laudably and nobly in bringing the challenges faced by the village to national and international attention.
The founding persons of Buxton were wholly honourable and dignified men and women who abandoned the natural instincts of linearity, selfishness and greed and plumped for the values of communitarianism, selflessness and associationalism, largely punctuated by self-reliance and tempered by a harsh unremitting zeal and in so doing they bequeathed to posterity a legacy more lasting than bronze.
Among the many accomplishments of the founding persons of the village movement that we today take for granted, has been their pioneering role in making Guyana one of the most lease -and rental- housing countries on this planet.
They were the first to entrench in the Guyanese psyche the critical link between ownership of real property and security. I am deeply humbled by such stupendous achievements, for which I hold a deep sense of vicarious pride.
Buxtonians must surely use the accomplishments of the founding persons as a benchmark on which they can calibrate Buxton‘s future.
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