Do not allow the historical significance of plantation Highbury to diminish

first_imgDear Editor,On May 5, 1838, some 180 years ago, the first batch of 128 East Indian immigrants landed at Plantation Highbury, East Bank Berbice. It is important that, as Guyanese, we do not allow the historical significance of Plantation Highbury to diminish.Over the last thirty years, on May 5th, Guyanese gathered at this prestigious site to reflect and show gratitude for the sacrifices of our ancestors.Through the generosity of the Indian Government, Guyana has received a monument to commemorate this historical occasion. The controversial Palmyra site selected for such a monument still baffles the mind of the majority of Guyanese.While Guyanese are extremely grateful for this monument, the reasons given for the selection of this site over the Highbury site have indeed displayed the ignorance and subsequent lack of emotion of those who were instrumental in deciding for the Guyanese population that Palmyra is the best place for such a monument.The reasons given thus far are that Palmyra is at a junction where the Berbice bridge — the way to the Corentyne — and the town of New Amsterdam can be accessed. More people will get to view it.Security at Palmyra would be superior to that at Highbury. The area is more populated, Highbury is too isolated.There is not enough space at Highbury to accommodate such a monument. There is enough land space at palmyra.The roads to the site are not that good, and it’s too far away from the urban areas.Again, the question is: Where is the historical justification for the selection of this Palmyra site?Please permit me to give reasons why Highbury is the best place for such a monument.1: Our forefathers landed at Highbury, not at Palmyra. Highbury was declared a heritage site due to its immense historical significance. The imprints of the feet of our forefathers will forever be in the hearts of us, their descendants. Those with genuine appreciation for the sacrifices of our forefathers will always feel that emotional attachment to a place like Highbury. This site was always graced by the presence of distinguished individuals from 1988 to date. Presidents Desmond Hoyte, Samuel Hinds, Bharrat Jagdeo, Donald Ramotar, and in the last two years, his Excellency David Granger, Indian High Commissioners past and present, Ministers of Government, members of the diplomatic corps, and thousands of Guyanese as well as foreigners, the likes of Yesu Persaud, Ravi Dev, former Prime Minister of Trinidad Basdeo Panday, have all paid homage to this place of pilgrimage. On the historical 100th anniversary of Indian arrival, the then Deputy Prime Minister of India together with the Prime Minister of Guyana joined the gathering under the sacred bel and peepar trees which are still present there today to commemorate this occasion.1. Both domestic and regional tourism can be boosted by the enhancement of Highbury heritage site. With persons making that journey to Highbury, not only will it give them that experience, but also will boost the economic growth of the area. Local shops, fruit juice vendors, subsistence farmers as well as boarding houses can all benefit from the sale of their products and services. Along the way to the site, one can also see a Hindu architectural wonder in the Gay Park Sri Krishna Mandir, the Bermine site, where bauxite was once mined, nature’s own variety of plant and animal life seem untouched, and the breath of clean, fresh air, wide savannah lands that stretch towards the horizons. The poor condition of the roads to the area is not an excuse anymore, as the stretch from Everton to Highbury is already paved, and work is currently being done to have a fully paved road, along with street lights, connecting the town of New Amsterdam to Everton.2. A monument at palmyra after time will lose the interest of the public, as it will be just a pass-by as it is with other monuments in the country that are sited based on the thought that “most people will see it here”. Once the appreciation is there for our rich history, then the question of long journey to Highbury will not even arise.3. Wherever the monument is placed, it must be secured. So the cost of security will not differ based on location. As with every national heritage site, the Government provides assistance in preserving our heritage, and Highbury has receive much needed support from the Government in recent years, and I am confident that such will continue in the future.4. As further development works are earmarked for the site, appropriate security measures will be put in place. The Berbice Indian Commemoration Committee is tasked with the responsibility for the Highbury Heritage Site, and will ensure that the assets are secured.5. The Highbury site can accommodate over three thousand under the roof itself. Sanitary facilities, potable running water, as well as a cooking area are currently at the disposal of the public. This place is used for farmers’ meetings, seminars, medical outreaches, school tours among many other things. The placement of the monument will further enhance the outlook of this site and serve as a stimulus for further development.Mr Editor, it is clear that the justification given for the placement of this commemorative monument at Highbury far outweighs that of the palmyra site. Together with the likes of Dr. Yesu Persaud, Mr. Nourang Persaud and other Guyanese, particularly Berbicians, I am pleading with the relevant authorities to correct this unfortunate situation.Yours faithfully,Ramesh Maraj(PRO- Berbice Indian Cultural Committee)last_img read more