Friday, July 12, 2013

Appreciating our Dutch-built heritage

In the lecture given at Moray House last evening -

The first point of note was that they introduced the use of bricks in construction in Guyana back in the 1600’s when the ifrst Dutch structure/building was constructed at Kykoveral – which translated to - - "See-over-all"( I thought afterwards there is a strong argument for renaming Georgetown, Kykoveral at the rate we and Global Warming are going but from a pun point-of view- Sea-over all!). Some of the bricks got removed as recent as 2010 by people re-using them in their own personal construction, however the National Heritage is now in charge of the site and hopefully will stem the flow.  For those who didn’t know—Kykoveral on the Mazaruni river is located just beyond the junction where the Mazaruni and Cuyuni River intersect and join into the Essequibo. It is probably the first Dutch construction in the Caribbean region.
The Dutch then moved a few times and finally built a more substantial fort – Fort Zeelandia on the aptly named Fort Island.  However it was never actually used in active duty and is currently being captured by the encroaching river as those who may be interested do not have the wherewithal to do anything about it! The lecturer then went on to spend a longer time than was necessary to discuss Fort Nassau in the Berbice river, believed the be the one destroyed by the revolting slaves in 1763. Whatever remains also falling apart and being reclaimed by the Land.

At this point I was joined by a drains enthusiast who fidgeted when the ‘old boys’ moaned about the filling in of the canals in Cummingsburg in Georgetown by the English.  So interesting to hear about any subject from someone passionate about it—even Drainage in Georgetown!  So apparently what the English engineers did was fill in the irrigation canals while creating additional drainage trenches, as Georgetown was originally envisaged as a few very large plantations under the Dutch – hence names like Middle Walk.  As the City assumed more importance, the English engineers catered for drainage to cope with the expected rainfall—making the assumption that the drains would be maintained and kept clean at all times. Then the coloured/decolonized people took over and filled in some of the drainage trenches – like throwing up a new wing of the Public Hospital over one of them - and didn’t maintain keeping drains clean, leading to flooding in parts of the City with a few hours of rain.  Independence is great isn’t it – you get to screw up all by yourselves, however I note that with the wisdom of hindsight the Caricom heads have decided to ask the West, deep in financial trouble themselves, for reparation - to do what I wonder?

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