Enmore, Guyana

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Enmore:Guyana
nickname = Enmore Seawall

website = http://www.enmorenyc.com/
footnotes =
Enmore is a village in the Demerara-Mahaica region along the coastal belt of Guyana. It is about two square miles in size and has a population of about 8,000 multi-ethnic, with large concentrations of Indo-Guyanese. Enmore is known for the Enmore Martyrs, who were slain during a 1948 labour dispute. It is located about 16 miles southeast of the capital city Georgetown. The Atlantic Ocean sits to the North; and some of the country's largest Sugarcane fields just beyond its southern horizon.

History

Enmore started in late 1940s when the residents were granted new plots of land to start a community north-east of their current village. These plots were an upgrade from the primitive mud hut homes of the old village, which, bunched together, were unable to support the population swell that came in the early generations. The new space was much better suited for cultivating fruits and vegetable, and proved most durable as the community continued to grow.

In the 1950s the development of Enmore moved at a steady pace, and by the end of first decade, Enmore had more than double its population. It had acquired two Primary schools to educate its largest population of youths. The main streets were covered with asphalt to allow easier vehicle access and to reduce deterioration from soil erosion. A Community Center Ground was added in 1970 under the control of Bookers' Sugar Estate but they handed control to Community leaders soon after and today it is own and operated by the community and remains the community's agora for public forums, cricket matches and meetings. Development in Enmore was slower in subsequent decades, but it remained progressive during its nascent years.

Then, in 1964, the worst political strife between the Indians and the Africans took place and Guyana's Government and Economy came to a stand-still. Commerce, Schools and far worst, Law Enforcements - society as a whole - cease to function as it had. There were rampant murders, vandalism, looting, and civil clashes in magnitudes unseen hitherto. In quelling the uprising a line was drawn between these two dominant races and, as a result, the once mixed communities, like Enmore were forced to segregate its people. Riots were commonplace and the divide created during this sensitive period can still be seen in many facets community life today.

After the riots Enmore found itself with approximately 1,000 refugees from various neighboring villages, squatting on adjoining land. This migration circa 1964-65 satisfied the basic needs of the refugees but, for years to come it became detrimental to the community. Enmore found itself the victim of the social impoverishment that came with squatters i.e. widespread untreated diseases (hospital services were years away).

In 1992, with the change in government and ruling political party, Guyana became a democratic state and it influenced a wonderful change in the country. Development unseen for twenty eight years started reappearing. The population continued to increase and an old over-crowding problem was once again a big problem. The new government started a program to sell the land East and West of Enmore to its residents. This brought a huge relief to the over populated community and within a few years houses filled the new area. Once again, Enmore physical appearance had changed.

Culture

The culture in Enmore slightly resembles that of the Indian immigrants who crossed the Atlantic Ocean over 150 years ago. Even though well over 90% of the population remains Indo-Guyanese - a small group of Chinese and Amerindian families are the minority - the culture is very similar to that of the rest of the British Caribbean, but with, according to the locals, an East Indian flair.

In the beginning, the culture of Enmore resembled very much that of the mother country, India, but as African and Chinese infiltrate the village a slight variety was added. The residents of Enmore the Indo-Guyanese, Afro-Guyanese, and Chinese brought their foods, traditions, religion and customs with them. But after the racially motivated outburst of 1964, Enmore became a 100% Indo-Guyanese village, but still the contributions the Afro-Guyanese and Chinese made had left lasting impressions in Enmore This is very prevalent today in the food and language of the people.

Over the years, the population of Indians has lost their mother tongue completely, and although Indian music remains very popular, the English language, with a slight Creole touch, has taken complete control. No one speaks Hindi anymore and in Enmore it is consider a dead language. The colloquial English use is heavily influenced by the British. Being a colony for many years, Guyana is touch with a flair of British in almost everything and so is Enmore Like the British custom to drink tea many of daily activities are in small ways reflective of the past. Even the system of Government, although it has been slightly modified over the years, still imitate the British rules and laws.

The religious beliefs of the people have gone through a major transformation as well. Even though the composition of the population remains the same for over 45 years, the religious beliefs have changed dramatically. The two dozen Christian churches that now dot the village claims over 60% of the younger generation and approximately 30% of the older generation have converted to this recently introduce faith. Regardless of religious conviction every holiday social or religious are celebrated and respected. Many of the customs that are objective and foster public life are commonly organized by community leaders at home and abroad.

Many of the original religious customs and traditions that have not been lost were modified by the ages and vestiges of an East Indian heritage appear in a number of the festivities. For example, few weddings are ever complete without the ceremonial rubbing of the dye; an old Indian wedding custom that is accepted among every religion. Holidays like Christmas and Diwali are examples of occasions where the entire community celebrates together in a congenial integration of faith.

Schools

Enmore has two primary schools and three nursery schools.

The schools are:
* Enmore Hope Primary
* Enmore Government School
* Newtown Nursery
* Blossom Scheme Nursery
* Ghandi Nursery

Sugar Factory

This factory has been in operation for over 75 years. Most of the residents of Enmore used to work at the factory. However, over the years the sugar workers starts to take up office positions in the city.

Martyrs Monument

By 1948, most sugar workers in Guyana were giving support to the Guyana Industrial Workers Union (GIWU). On 22 April 1948, cane cutters, backed by the union, went on strike demanding the abolishment of the existing "cut and load" system in the fields. This reaping system which forced cane cutters had to load the sugar punts with the cane they cut, was not popular among cane cutters. It was introduced in 1945, and from time to time workers had gone on strike to demand that it should be changed. As part of the demands of the 1948 strike, the cane cutters called for the replacement of "cut and load" with a "cut and drop" system by which the cane cutters should cut the cane, but other workers would load the cut cane into the punts for shipment to the factory.

In addition to this particular issue, the workers demanded higher wages and improved living conditions on the sugar estates. However, the real aim of the strike was to demand recognition of the GIWU as the bargaining union for the field and factory workers on all the sugar estates in the country.

The strike obtained political support from the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), and the workers were addressed at numerous public meetings by Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan and leaders of the GIWU. The PAC bulletins were widely distributed at these meetings. Dr. Jagan himself was personally involved in the organization of the strike, and helped to raise funds across the country to it. Janet Jagan was also in the forefront in operating soup kitchens for the striking workers and their families on the sugar estates.

As the strike continued, the recognized union, the MPCA, urged the workers to return to work saying that they demand for higher pay would be taken up with the Sugar Producers Association (SPA). But the workers, who had no confidence in the MPCA, refused to heed this call and stated that in any discussions with the SPA they wanted only the GIWU to represent them. However, the SPA was adamant that negotiations would be conducted only with the MPCA, the recognized union.

With sugar production seriously affected by the ongoing strike, the sugar estates hired scab labour and enticed some workers to return to work. In retaliation, strikers went to the fields and chased them away, and in some cases physically attacked them.

On 14 June the SPA and the MPCA met to discuss the issues, but no satisfactory agreement was reached. In any case, the workers were not prepared to accept any agreement that the MPCA was negotiating, since they felt very strongly that the union was betraying their interests. On the following day, some strikers attacked overseers and some strike-breakers at Nonpariel, and in the evening there were reports of vandalism, including the cutting of telephone lines between Georgetown and Enmore.

Early on the morning of 16 June a crowd of about 400 workers gathered outside the factory at Enmore for a protest and picketing exercise. The management of Enmore Estate was expecting this protest action, and the evening before had requested assistance from the Police. Lance Corporal James and six policemen, each armed with a rifle and six rounds of ammunition, were earlier sent from Georgetown early on the morning of June 16 and they reported to the management of Enmore estate at 4.00 a.m. Two hours later, they and took up positions in the factory compound which was protected by a fence 15 feet high with rows of barbed wire running along the outward struts at the top.

By 10.00 a.m. the crowd had grown to between 500 and 600 persons and was led by one of the workers carrying a red flag. They attempted to enter the factory compound through the gates and through two trench gaps at the rear by which punts entered the factory. But they were prevented from doing so because the locked gates and the punt gaps were protected by policemen. A section of the crowd then hurled bricks and sticks at the policemen, and several persons managed to enter the compound on the rear of the factory. The policemen tried to push back the crowd, but after this effort failed, they opened fire and five workers were killed and fourteen others were injured.

Lallabagee Kissoon, 30 years old, was shot in the back; 19-year-old Pooran was shot in the leg and pelvis; Rambarran died from bullet wounds in his leg; Dookhie died in hospital later that day; and Harry died the following day from severe spinal injuries. These men, through the years, became known as the Enmore Martyrs.

On 17 June, the funeral of the slain men saw a massive crowd of people marching behind their coffins from Enmore to La Repentir Cemetery in Georgetown, a distance of more than 16 miles. This procession of thousands was led by Dr. Cheddi Jagan and PAC and GIWU leaders. The tragedy and the ultimate sacrifice of these sugar workers greatly influenced Dr. Jagan political philosophy and outlook. On the grave side of the Enmore Martyrs surrounded by thousands of mourners, he made a silent pledge that he would dedicate his entire life to the cause of the struggle of the Guyanese people against bondage and exploitation.

To investigate the shooting, the Governor, Sir Charles Wooley, appointed a commission of enquiry headed by Frederick Boland, a Supreme Court judge. The two other members of the commission were S. L. Van Batenburg Stafford and R. S. Persaud. Evidence was collected from 64 persons and a report was presented in August 1948. Dr. Jagan, Janet Jagan and Dr. Lachmansingh refused to testify before the commission because they felt it was a waste of time owing to the fact that the commission chairman and members were openly showing a bias towards the Police and the management of Enmore Estate.

In their testimony to the Commission, policemen involved in the shooting claimed that they were forced to shoot to protect the factory from destruction or damage and to protect the lives of workers who were on the premises.

The report, as widely expected, justified the shooting. But it criticised the Police for not applying measures, such as the use to tear gas, to keep the crowd away from the factory compound. The members of the commission also felt that the shooting period went beyond what was reasonable when they stated: "We are, therefore, of the opinion that the evidence has established that after the first few shots, there was firing which went beyond the requirements of the situation, with the result that Pooran notably and some others received shots when in actual flight."

Community Center Ground

Some of the top Red Stripe cricket match was played on this ground. This ground is still being used for concerts and local cricket matches.

Gem Cinema

The place where all the latest Bollywood movies used to show. Today this cinema is a Lumberyard.

Sea Defense

This small village is protected from the Atlantic Ocean by large concrete walls. The main pump station pumps water out whenever rain falls.

Families; Past and Present

Many families derive from Enmore, some are:

Footnotes

References

* http://www.guyana.org
* Interviews with elderly people of Enmore. Or|date=April 2008


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