Mar 24, 2013 News
After a 112-day voyage, 244 immigrants arrived in Guyana on May 5, 1838, marking the official entry of Indians to Guyana, which was then known as British Guiana. Efforts to import the immigrants from the extreme southern central section of Asia by the European Sugar Planters, were in fact a means to boost the labour force on the sugar
plantations on which enslaved Africans were forced to work.
As indentured servants, the Indian immigrants were required to be engaged in a five-year labour period on the plantation. Although it was clear that several of the indentured labourers did not acclimatise well and even died due to the hot South American weather, by the end of 1843 a few had adopted and even decided to make Guyana their home.
Over the years the role of Indians in Guyana has considerably evolved with a significant cross-section endeavouring to embrace thriving entrepreneurial commitments.
Today East Indians account for the majority of the population and even comprise a sizeable quota of the influential in the Guyanese society.
The arrival of Indians to Guyana has certainly not been forgotten and has remained etched in the minds and hearts of many. It was perhaps against this very background that the Indian Commemoration Trust (ICT) Foundation, chaired by popular business mogul, Dr. Yesu Persaud, was introduced several years ago.
According to Dr. Persaud it was in 1987 that earnest efforts were engaged to bring into being a Monuments Garden as a commemorative site for the Indians who arrived in Guyana.
“We were looking for a spot and by 1989 we finally found that spot…” Situated at Camp and Church Streets, Georgetown, was what Persaud described as a “derelict site. It was overgrown with trees, bushes, brambles and thorns.”
This discovery had in fact followed on the heels of discussions and a subsequent agreement with the Government of the day as well as the Indian Government to introduce a Monuments Garden in honour of the first arrival of Indians here.
With an idea for the location, Persaud recalled that moves were immediately
made to engage the then Mayor of Georgetown, Compton Young, and according to the ICT Chairman “he was most kind and generous. He said ‘if you can take it over, clean it up and convert it into a garden it would transform the city and it will help with the preservation of that part of the city too’.”
The whole process of implementation of the Gardens commenced around 1989 but the concept of the arrival celebration had been introduced in 1987.
Bringing the Garden idea to life required the clearing of what appeared to be a jungled swamp and then having it filled with some 2000 trucks of sand and earth.
As part of its commemoration mandate, the ICT, last year commenced intensified efforts to revamp the Monuments Garden location as part of preparatory work for the observance of the 175th anniversary of the arrival of East Indians to Guyana this year.
Indian Monuments Garden is home to a replica of the ‘Whitby’ one of the vessels in which the immigrants were brought to British Guiana.
It was during the 150th anniversary celebration, in 1988, that a request was made to the Government of India, through the Vice President, for a monument to be erected in the Gardens as a symbol of the indentureship era in Guyana. The Government of India acceded to the request in 1991 by presenting Guyana with a replica of the ship ‘Whitby’ which stands very visibly in the Gardens.
It is one of the exquisite monuments expected to line the space of the Garden in order to give it a museum setting telling of history of the arrival. In March 1993 the structural works and the landscaping of the gardens commenced and in August 1996, the bronze sculpture of the Whitby designed by Mr. B. K. Guru arrived in Guyana.
Mr. Yesu Persaud unveiled this work of art on May 5, 1997.
Currently, preparation for the commemoration this year does not only include the sprucing-up of the Gardens but a significant aspect is the construction of a huge stage which will be inaugurated on April 24 ahead of the May 5 anniversary.
During the past week members of the ICT, led by their Chairman, Yesu Persaud, converged at the location to scrutinise the ongoing works which is estimated to cost some $20 million. Among the members there were Messrs Pradeep Samtani, Sasenarine Sankar and Kelly Khalawan, Ms. Nadira Naraine, Mrs. Radica Sankar and Dr. Seeta Shah Roath.
They disclosed that financing for the mega-stage, was donated by friends of the Foundation and that there were also several fundraising activities that were undertaken.
The stage, according to Samtani, when completed, will be outfitted with two green rooms and washrooms and will be used for many purposes.
He disclosed during an invited comment that once completely renovated, the Gardens will be rented to host exhibitions, drama events and even weddings and other formal and semi formal functions.
“It will be very nice and posh; the space is there to seat almost 1,200 people and basically what we have in mind is that it will be used for cultural events.”
Plans are being streamlined for it to accommodate a food exhibition on May 1, as part of the Indian Food Festival where people will be able to learn to make some dishes and enjoy some at the same time.
As part of the commemoration activity the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) will host a seminar at the Guyana International Conference Centre on May 4 and the following morning celebratory activities will be at Highbury, Berbice, and the Monument Gardens in the evening.
Pres. Ali putting water meters on the citizens in Berbice, and not meters on Exxon oil pumps.
Dec 03, 2023Kaieteur Sports – Recently, the Cricket West Indies (CWI) High Performance Unit (HP) and the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB)/Harpy Eagles Franchise (GHE) held an historic meeting when the CWI HP...
Dec 03, 2023
Dec 03, 2023
Dec 03, 2023
Dec 03, 2023
Dec 03, 2023
By Sir Ronald Sanders (The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.