Saturday, August 4, 2012

Evening with the GHS and trolling Stabroek Market at night

Evening with the GHS and trolling Stabroek Market at night

A very interesting couple of hours was spent with the Guyana Heritage Society under the kind patronage of a Dutch historian now resident in Guyana. He arranged for the screening of a Dutch documentary of the a letter sent by the wife of the Dutch Governor of Essequibo in the late 18th Century to her 12yr old son going to school in Holland- Friesland in Northern Netherlands. Apparently Governor Trotz’s family originated from the part of Germany now in Poland and they had about 80 slaves (African) who either took up that name and/or intermingled with the family over the course of time. Interestingly, the 12yr old son who grew up in a relatively affluent lifestyle in Holland eventually returned back to Guyana and subsequently died in 1839.

It personalized the settlement of the Dutch and brought into focus the rivalry between the English and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th Centuries as this letter was among 4,000 or was it 40,000 recently ‘discovered’ in the archives of an English museum, apparently seized from Dutch ship returning to Holland. They traced one of Governor Trotz’s descendants whose life sort of mirrored that of the letter-writer’s in that she has been living in Brazil for the past 20yr and her son was in the Netherlands completing his education.

They also managed to trace a local who said that his family had been told that they were the descendants of the then 12yr old son—Adrian. I was amused at the part of the documentary where they interview a current Mr Trotz on his patio, his house being larger that most in Holland and very tastefully furnished and the questioner from Holland asked him how he felt to be a possible descendant of Governor Trotz who was white and he, the current Mr Trotz was obviously not – he did a double-take and tactfully replied about the interactions between the races/cultures.*The current Mr Trotz then asked for the floor after the presentation and said Guyana is/should become a big melting pot where distinctions should be irrelevant in the aspiration to become One Nation, One People, One Destiny – although that motto may have been foisted on us- or words to that effect. Two friends commented afterwards that they both wondered if the current Mr Trotz had any of the same genes as the blond descendant and I thought to myself it would have been interesting to trace the African side back to see how and when the two races intermingled,  as it was common for slaves to take the name of their masters.

We were then invited to try some Dutch Schnapps – nothing less than 30% alcohol. I tried three and while burping it reminded me of the raw Raki. A little tipsy, I agreed to follow a friend who was going to her regular Friday night market-shopping at Stabroek Market. The place was bustling at 8.45pm – it is a whole new world…. A woman from the Opposition was trying to whip up a small crowd of people by Idaho, the firemen were liming outside the Firehouse, wholesalers and small farmers had spread their wares out on the Stelling Road. Most things seemed cheaper.

* Ran into Mr Trotz and I complimented him on his house and he ruefully told me that the Producers were playing on the fact that the Trotzs were bigshots back in de day and used the Patio of a local hotel to film!!

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