The bitterness of sugar

10 May 2021 17:48 #389911 by chairman
The Bitterness of Sugar in Guyana- part 3
Specially dedicated to Moms whose toils whether in the fields or homes are largely unrecognized.
In Guyana the colonial sugar baron Bookers have long gone but the system of plantocracy which they instituted has lived on continuing its stranglehold on the sugar communities leaving no wiggle room for anything else besides sugar. Any intruder that presented a challenge to that tight control would somehow be forced out of existence. I recall with sadness how a couple of rice factories in the East Canje district of the Rose Hall estate were forced to close when the rice lands that fed them with a continual supply of paddy were appropriated by Bookers for sugar cultivation.
There went fond memories associated with my father's rice farm which he, like so many others were engaged in as a side activity to supply their family table while they held full time jobs with the Estate. That was painfully heartbreaking but my saddest moment came a little later when I stood atop the Changaya punt trench bridge aback our village and watched despondently as the Estate excavators mercilessly leveled the kitchen gardens cultivated by many including my Dad. Nothing stood in the way of the Plantocracy. The rice mills did brisk trade and also provided loads of fun to us young kids. How happily we enjoyed the big vats used to float out the wind grains , watching our produce being milled, sampling the rice bran and doing acrobatic stuff on the mountains of rice hulls. These were also some of the unforgiveable casualties of Plantocracy !
Being the sole major employer in the community is not a good idea for obvious reasons. What is not so apparent is the scale of impoverishment both in money terms and intellectually. Growing up in the Plantocracy was a dumb experience. Things may have changed somewhat especially with the advent of TV but back then there were so many ideas of what we could have aspired to achieve that did not cross our minds, like being an engineer or a scientist of one ilk or the other. All that stands before the communities is an huge estate that seems to promise to take care of everything for the rest of our lives. If you cannot be absorbed into the clerical office for want of suitable basic qualification or be a school teacher or shopkeeper then you'd be certain to get employed in the Estate sugar fields. There was no problem sweating it out in school if you don't want to.
The Plantocracy provided an incentive to stay dumb and with it came all the later problems of insufficient income to raise a family, of stress and boredom from lack of recreation , from alcoholism and the havoc it wreaked in countless homes.

Always tell someone how you feel because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye but regret can last a lifetime.

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