In Cummingsburg, there is Thomas Street. It is a double carriageway bifurcated by an avenue. So you have the western portion and eastern side of Thomas Street. In Kitty, there is Thomas Street. The entrance to the army headquarters is on a street named Thomas Road.
On Thomas Road is the head office of ACDA; the sports complex of the Guyana Public Service Union; the famous cricket club, Malteenoes, the technical operations office of GTT; David Rose School for disabled students; and the well-known barbecue hut, “The Grill”.
Also from Thomas Road, you can enter the National Park and Queen’s College. Now the entire area, stretching from Sugrim Singh Road (which is the northern continuation of Irving Street), going west is named Thomas Lands. So Camp Ayanganna, ACDA, the National Park, etc are located in Thomas Lands.
I researched a number of Guyanese history texts to ascertain if Thomas Street (Cummingsburg), Thomas Street (Kitty), Thomas Road and Thomas Lands were named after the same man or woman? I couldn’t ascertain the facts so I called a few persons and except Hamilton Green, they didn’t know.
Green said the gentleman was a plantation owner- Thomas Cummings. The Georgetown ward, Cummingsburg is named after him and Cummings Street too.
Isn’t this too much symbolism for a former plantation owner? Two Georgetown wards and four streets bear this man’s titles. One must be careful how one tampers with history. History is not a normative process; it is a factual aspect of life so we can’t change historical contexts at our whims and fancy.
There was a plantation owner named Thomas where now sit the places named above. I would warn we do not tamper with history. Leave Thomas Lands, Thomas Road and Cummingsburg alone.
But we can change the two Thomas Streets and Cummings Street. I agree with President Burnham when he changed Murray Street to Quamina Street. Murray was a hangman who executed slave rebels. Why should a street be given his title? You give the title to places and roadways after people who lived positive lives and made positive contributions to the country of birth and the world in general.
I would suggest the following: Change both the western and eastern sides of Thomas Street in Cummingsburg. Do you know an Indian national, Shruti Kant, who built one of the most successful private high schools on the western side of Thomas Street? He popularized Thomas Street from the fifties to the eighties. How many persons in Guyana know about Kant’s educational contributions to Guyana?
Dr. Rowti Prashad also popularized the western section of Thomas Street with his famous hospital. One of the modern administrators of Guyana’s cricket, Kenny Wishart, lived on the same section. These are the contenders if we are going to relook at that part of Thomas Street.
Across the avenue is the eastern portion of Thomas Street. It should be renamed Hospital Road. The famous Georgetown Hospital is known to every man, woman and child in the land. This landmark on Thomas Street runs from Middle Street to Lamaha Street.
What about Thomas Street in Kitty? Is there someone nationalistic who once lived there? On Thomas Street, Kitty, there was a well-known cinema named Hollywood, at the junction of Alexander Street. It was built in 1941. Today, like Strand-De Lux at the corner of Wellington and Charlotte Streets in Lacytown, it was sold out to a church. Why not give it the appellation, Hollywood Road.
I doubt any of my suggestions here will ever be given serious thought. The new Guyana we live in, leaders place no emphasis on historical symbolisms. Our leaders are only motivated by name-changing when it has a personal connection. It is not a question of bureaucracy or time. These things can be done in weeks not months.
The bureaucratic procedures should not be onerous and lengthy. It didn’t take long to have Linden, Melanie Damishana, Roxanne Burnham Gardens, Quamina Street, Cheddi Jagan Airport, Chanderpaul Drive, the Eugene Correia Airport and the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
The name changing process is not a burdensome work. Why these things are not done is because of the mind of our leaders. They would quickly name a building or street after someone that was closely connected to them or their families or relatives. Other than that, they are not interested.
There should be a huge sign at the Indian Garden Monument informing Guyana that the site was the original house of what is now Guyana Water Authority built by the colonials. That is where Georgetown got its drinking water from the 19th century onwards.
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