Golden Grove Celebrates Centenary As Village
Initiative and Self-Help of Inhabitants Praised.
His Excellency Unveils Memorial Tablet
WHEN the Centenary celebrations of the purchase of Golden Grove, East Coast, Demerara, by 50 manumitted slaves, were opened on Wednesday last His Excellency the Governor, Sir Charles Woolley, K.C.M.G., O.B.E., M.C., and Lady Woolley, were among the chief guests.
IN THE COURSE of a heartening and congratulatory address. His Excellency declared that his greatest interest in British Guiana was directed towards the welfare of the rural areas, and much of his time was occupied with the solution of problems for the benefit of these areas. The prosperity of British Guiana depended mostly upon what it produced, and he was glad that Golden Grove was in the front rank in farming activities.
DESCRIBED by the Governor as the “Apostle of the Villages,” Mr. M. B. Laing, C.M.G., O.B.E., in his address stressed the important responsibility placed upon Village Councillors and urged villagers to give full co-operation for the advancement of the Village in every respect.
Mr. L. D. Sarrabo, prominent villager of Golden Grove was the reciptent of congratulations on the historical review of Golden Grove Village prepared and read by him at the first day’s celebration of the Centenary.
REVIEW OF PROGESS
The review covered the progress of the Village from the time of its purchase on May 5, 1848, by 50 manumitted slaves, to the present time, and included a record of the career of sons and daughters of Golden Grove who, during that period had gained special achievements. This historical review is published elsewhere in this issue, and, as was suggested by His Excellency deserves a place in the archives of the Colony.
On Wednesday afternoon, after the reading of the review, a Memorial tablet erected on the grounds of the Methodist Church at Golden Grove, was unveiled by His Excellency. On the Memorial tablet is inscribed the names of His Excellency the Governor, Messrs. M. B. Laing, C.M.G., Commissioner of Local Government, F. St.M. Gerrard, District Commissioner and the Chairman and Councillors of Golden Grove-Nabaclis Village.
HIS EXCELLENCY’S ADDRESS
Returning to the dais after Mr. H. A. Hughes, Chairman, had welcomed His Excellency, Lady Woolley, and the other guests, His Excellency addressed the gathering.
He said that as he drove into the village it was inspiring to see the great concourse of people gathered for the festive occasion. Expressing thanks for the warm welcome he and Lady Woolley had received, His Excellency said it gave them pleasure to attend and take part in the Centenary celebration of Golden Grove Village.
He felt it a duty, in spite of the many preoccupations, to be present. His interest in the rural areas was pre-eminent. The prosperity of British Guiana depended mostly on what it produced, and much of his time was spent in solving problems for the welfare of the country districts. There was exhibited at times a good deal of impatience to get certain things done, but before Government launched a scheme, it had to be examined carefully for assurance that the scheme was sound and on sure foundation.
On such an occasion as a Centenary celebration, His Excellency said it was well to review what progress had been made over the period of a hundred years. It would have been a good thing if the 50 pioneers of the Village had been alive to see how their original plans were carried out and improved. He referred to the Historical Review by Mr. Sarrabo, congratulated him on its preparation, and expressed the hope that it would find a place in the archives at the Public Buildings, Georgetown.
His Excellency went on to trace the evolution and progress of Local Administration, and said he was pleased of the information that the village played an important part in the agricultural activities of British Guiana. Much of the progress the village had achieved was due to the initiative of its inhabitants and their quality of self-help.
He extended warm congratulations to the community on the attainment of a hundred years’ existence and ended by wishing the Village continued prosperity to such a degree as would make it more worthy of the name.
MR. LAING “APOSTLE OF VILLAGES”
Sir Charles then introduced the next speaker whom he termed the “Apostle of the Villages,” and that was Mr. Laing.
After expressing pleasure at being present, and gratitude for the invitation, Mr. Laing added tribute to Mr. Sarrabo for his interesting historical review.
He said he had listened with great interest to His Excellency’s address and endorsed all that had been said by him. The past, Mr. Laing said, had taught much, but the future was more important still. The present generation had to continue building on the foundation that was well and truly laid by the stalwarts of the past. Much had been done but there was much still to be done. He then stressed the important function that Village Councils had to undertake and emphasized the sacrifical voluntary work done by the several Village Councillors.
Mr. Laing went on to urge the villagers to give full co-operation to the Council, take pride in their village, and strive to build a better and brighter Golden Grove in every respect. He referred to the necessary amenities such as a Community centre, a market, electric lighting and playing fields; but said that the village must not be regarded merely as an avenue for picnics, but moreso as the home and working ground of those who follow agricultural pursuits. It must be made sure that “ he who tills the soil is making a good living.” He added that Village Councillors had ample opportunity and privilege of developing a full understanding of the requirements of the people of their community, and to guide them towards a fuller life – materially and spiritually.
BUILDING BETTER GOLDEN GROVE
Concluding, Mr. Laing said he joined in homage and gratitude to the memory of the men who founded the Village of Golden Grove, a hundred years ago and he enjoined the present villagers and those to come to grasp every opportunity with both hands and strive to build a yet better Golden Grove.
The Hon. D. P. Debidin, said he was happy for the honour and privilege of being associated with the celebration of the centenary of the existence of Golden Grove as a village. He was deeply impressed by the historical review and thought the villagers should be proud to have Mr. L. D. Sarrabo to compile so compact a history.
The occasion said Mr. Debidin, was an auspicious one and a fitting time for checking up on past achievements and decideing what further should be done during the next hundred years to improve further, conditions at Golden Grove.
After stressing the need of better drainage and irrigation, better housing, trade schools for senior boys and girls, he emphasized that farming, well carried on, was of great prosperity. He deplored the exodus of people from the rural areas to the city, where the struggle for existence was extremely keen and opportunity for earning a good livelihood precarious.
Finally, he advised the rising generation to emulate their forbearers who, through thrift, unity, love, and reverence to God had enabled such a laudable heritage to be handed down.
During the morning a large gathering of villagers and friends from various parts of the Colony assembled in the Methodist Church of the village where an impressive service was held and a fitting sermon preached by the Rev. S. W. C. Crosse.
At intervals, musical contributions were rendered by the Militia Band, and among the hymns sung by the congregation were:- “Praise my soul the king of Heaven”, “O God our help in Ages past”, and “Now thank we all our God.” Mr. D. A. Trotman the schoolmaster of the village officiated at the organ.
Rev. Crosse after extending on behalf of the villagers a hearty welcome to the visitors including Major Henwood and his band, took his text from Psalm 108, verse 8; “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men.”
He paid a glowing tribute to the vision and foresight of the founders of the village who carried through so noble and laudable a project, although they had been released from slavery not so many years past. Their foresight and thrift, their love and unity, their faith in God, were the qualities which led them to so fruitful a venture.
It was of interest to note how early they set apart a vast portion of land to erect a Church where they could worship God. It was fitting said the preacher, to be assembled as they were, to give praise to Almighty God for the heritage into which the succeeding generations of the Village had come.
The occasion that day was a challenge to the present and future villagers to emulate the virtues, wisdom, love, unity and reverence to God and strive to “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your reasonable service.”
the preacher concluded with the immortal lines of Longfellow:
“Lives of great men all remind us
we can make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”
The sermon ended, the “te Deum” was sung, and after the recitation of a General Thanksgiving by the assembly, led by the Minister, the singing of the National Anthem brought the service to an end.
The Daily Argosy, Friday, May 7th. 1948: page 4 and 6.