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GUYANA QUIZ







Q.  What is a koker?


A.   A sluice. The word “koker” has Dutch origins and is widely used in Guyana.

More about koker.


Q:  What is the origin of the word Mashramani?


A:  The word Mashramani, meaning "the celebration of a job well done," is Amerindian in origin.


Q:  Name the son of Guyana who might have been the country's first President, but for a fatal accident.


A:  Sir David James Gardiner Rose. Born in Guyana (British Guiana) on April 10, 1923 and educated at Mount St. Mary's College, Derbyshire, England, David Rose, became Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) on his return to Guyana. Subsequently he was appointed defense officer to the Federal Government of the West Indies Federation. Following the breakup of the Federation, he was appointed Administrator of Antigua and St. Lucia (Acting) and from 16 December 1966 was Governor General of Guyana. His honors included The Colonial Police Medal with bar for gallantry, Member of the British Empire (1954), Companion of the Victorian Order (1966), Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (1966). The Order of Excellence of Guyana was awarded posthumously in 1970. Prime Minister Burnham had tipped Sir David to be the country's first President and he was appointed Governor General by the British Government. However, before the country could become a republic,  Sir David died on November 10, 1969 following a tragic accident in London


Q:  When were all adult Guyanese first allowed to vote at general elections?


A:  Elections in Guyana (British Guiana) were first held on the basis of adult suffrage at the 1953 general elections. This was as a result of the recommendation of the Waddington Constitutional Commission of 1950-1951.


Q:  What is "nibbee"?


A:  A fiber used by Amerindians to make a number of useful items such as furniture, rope, and hats. Outside of  people's homes, nibbee items are most readily seen at art-and-craft commercial stands selling souvenirs for tourists.


Q:  Who wrote lyrics for songs used by three major political parties in Guyana?


A:  Eusi Kwayana (born Sidney King). He wrote the lyrics of Oh Fighting Men (People's Progressive Party), The Battle Song (People's National Congress) and People's Power (Working People's Alliance). Kwayana was a leading member of each of these political parties at the time he wrote the lyrics. A tireless participant in public affairs in Guyana, he was born and grew up in the historic village of Buxton. For well over 50years, he has worked with working people in his attempts to organize and mobilize them. Kwayana was an original member of the early PPP, and later of  the PNC. His group ASCRIA, the African Society for Cultural Relations with Independent Africa, became a founding group of the WPA in 1974.


Q:   What teenager accompanied herself with a mandolin as she sang her way into the hearts of Guyanese on radio, then when she emigrated to Barbados continued the outstanding humanitarian work she started in Guyana. Tip: think “Needy Children’s Fund.”


A:  Olga Lopes-Seale


Q:  Why did Guyanese place fish in their water vats in the old days?


A:  To devour the mosquitoes and their larvae.  Mosquitoes were known to be responsible for the transmission of deadly diseases such as malaria. Other actions taken to deter mosquitoes were applying oil to the surfaces of standing water, breeding bats to devour the mosquitoes and spraying houses with DDT.


Q:  Where and what is Shell Beach in Guyana?


A:  Shell Beach is a stretch of beach occupying about 100 miles along Guyana’s Atlantic coast between the mouths of the Pomeroon and Waini Rivers. It is a major nesting ground for four species of turtle: the leatherback, green, hawksbill and the endangered olive ridley.


Q.  What is the Bartica Triangle?


A.  The Bartica Triangle is the area of land at the confluence of the Mazaruni, Cuyuni and Essequibo rivers. This area includes the town of Bartica.


Q:  What popular Guyanese folk song deals with being terrified about continuing a river journey?


A:  Itaname


Q:  How did beef from the Rupununi Savannahs first get to the coastland? 


A:  On the hoof.  Cattle were driven along the old cattle trail that wended its way from Annai in the Rupununi Savannahs (Savannas) to Tacama (Takama) on the Berbice River, covering a distance of 180 miles. At the end of the journey, the cattle were tired and wasted. The trail was successfully completed in 1919 and the first head of cattle was driven over it in 1920. Later beef was transported to the coastland by air. Before the opening of the trail, the only economic outlet for cattle raised in this area had been Brazil, where prices obtained for Rupununi beef were low.


Q:  Name the surveyor who became Curator of the Guyana (British Guiana) Museum.


A:  Vincent Roth. He also founded the zoo in the Botanical Gardens. Roth, who was also a journalist and naturalist, authored books on Guyanese history and wildlife. He worked as surveyor and magistrate for 30 years. Roth arrived in British Guiana in 1907, when he was 18 years old, and departed for Barbados in 1964.


Q:  Who were the Winkel slaves of British Guiana and why were they significant?


A:  They were highly competent carpenters, bricklayers, brickmakers, coopers and artisans generally. They worked under an officer, equivalent to a Director of Public Works, and were hired out to private persons from time to time. They were the first slaves in British Guiana to be freed as a group and this is especially noteworthy because they were given their freedom before emancipation. To this day, one area in New Amsterdam is called Winkel, for it was there that these interesting people lived.


Q:  Name the person who symbolized defiance in Martin Carter's "I Clench My Fist" and "I Am No Soldier." 


A:  Accabre (Accabreh), the last of the the leaders of the Berbice Slave Rebellion to be captured. He gained admiration for his composure and fearlessness when taken.

"I Clench My Fist"      Martin Carter


Q:  Name the Amerindian tribes of Guyana.


A:  There are nine: Arawaks, Caribs, Warraus, Macusis, Wapisianas, Akawaios, Patamonas, Arecunas and Wai Wais.


Q:  What were the Royal Races in Guyana?


A:  According to Lloyd Luckhoo, Guyana is the only country in the world in which the Prince of Wales (in 1920) and Her Majesty the Queen (in 1966) actually attended race meetings – the Prince at Bel Air Park and Queen Elizabeth at D’Urban Park.


Q:  What was once called "Disseekeeb"?


A:  The Essequibo River.


Q:  What month is Amerindian Heritage Month in Guyana?


A:  September. The first such month was observed in 1995 and is intended to showcase and promote Amerindian culture and contributions as Guyanese.


Q:  The late President Forbes Burnham commissioned an artist to paint the portrait of him which now hangs in Guyana's Parliament Chamber. Who was that artist?


A:  Emerson Samuels. His varied and valuable work earned him the award of the Golden Arrow of Achievement. Yet he had no formal schooling beyond a primary education. However, his gifts allowed him to grow as he worked with and learned from others - including Hubert Moshett, E.R. Burrowes, Marjorie Broodhagen, R.G. Sharples, Basil Hinds, and Denis Williams. Many of his works are in the National Collection. Born on August 22, 1928 at Nabaclis on the East Coast Demerara, he died on August 6, 2003 while on a visit to the United States.


Q:  Did Marcus Garvey ever visit Guyana? 


A:  Yes, he paid a visit to the British Guiana in October 1937. Then the President-General of the United Negro Improvement Association [UNIA], Garvey was visiting the British Guiana chapter of his organization. Large and enthusiastic crowds greeted him on his arrival at the Bookers wharf, after which he was taken by car to the home of his host, Dr. S.I.T Wills at Lot 190 Charlotte street.


Later in the day, Garvey was given a reception at the Georgetown Town Hall where he was greeted with the Ethiopian National anthem. Garvey also paid a courtesy call on the Governor before proceeding to the Fraternity Hall on Robb Street to address his followers.


Garvey had wanted to visit the British Guiana in 1921, but at that time the British government would almost certainly have had him detained as a troublemaker.


Q:  Where is the main battle school of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF)?


A:  At Tacama, on the upper Berbice River. (See pictures taken by the Lancashire Fusiliers at Tacama in 1965).


Q:  Who were the first Europeans to settle in Guyana?


A:   The Dutch. On the Pomeroon River in 1581.


Q:  Name the Amerindian tribes of Guyana.


A:  There are nine: Akawaio, Arawak, Arekuna, Karinya(Carib), Makusi, Patamona, Waiwai, Warau and Wapisiana


Q:  What does the name Kabakaburi mean?


A:  It is Arawak for "the place with the itching bush." The bush referred to was a wild lily that gave off an itchy milk. The Arawak name for the lily was “jotoro” (diefenbachia paludicola), and the place where it grew “kabo kabura.” Over time, this became Kabakaburi.


Q:  How was the Coat-of-Arms of Guyana decided on?


A: The Coat of Arms was selected on the recommendation of the National History and Arts council and approved by the College of Arms, England. It was accepted by the house of Assembly on Friday, 25th February, 1966.


Q:  How did Homestretch Avenue in Georgetown get its name?


A:   It was built on the homestretch of the former D'Urban Park Race Course.


Q:  What museum in Guyana was named after a police officer?


A:  The John Campbell Police Museum. The museum was opened in 1993 at the Eve Leary Compound in Georgetown. It has five main sections: History, Uniform, Musical Instruments, Photographs and Miscellaneous. John Campbell was the author of a history of policing in Guyana.


Q:  Name the first black woman to sit in Britain’s cabinet.


A:  Baroness Valerie Ann Amos. Born in Guyana in March 1954, she moved to England when she was nine years old. She studied at the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham and East Anglia, and was awarded an Honorary Professorship at Thames Valley University in 1995 in recognition of her work on equality and social justice. She began her career in local government, working in various London boroughs from 1981 to 1989. Valerie Amos became a life peer in 1997, taking the title Baroness Amos, of Brondesbury in the London Borough of Brent. Baroness Amos became the first black woman to sit in Britain's cabinet following Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to appoint her International Development Secretary. Up till then, she had been Parliamentary Under-Secretary of  State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was made Leader of the House of Lords on October 6, 2003 following the death of Lord Williams of Mostyn. The Leader of the House of Lords takes charge of the government's business in the House, and has some responsibility for determining the order of speakers.


Q:  Who has been widely regarded as the "father of the trade union movement in Guyana"?


A: Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow.


Q:  The German botanist Robert Schomburgk came upon an impressive plant on the Berbice River in 1836 and sent specimens back to Europe. Name this plant. 


A:  The Victoria or Victoria regia or Victoria amazonica - the famous giant water-llily. The English botanist and horticulturist John Lindley  established the genus Victoria and named the species regia in honor of Queen Victoria. Interestingly, in 1850 the year after botanists were able to get the Victoria to flower in Europe, Queen Victoria, accompanied by the French president (later Napoleon III), went to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to view the flowering.

More about the Victoria


Q:  What is "foo-foo"?


A:  Pounded boiled green plantains. The plantains are placed in a mortar and pounded with a pestle until smooth. Butter, salt and pepper may be added, and the foo-foo is shaped into manageable portions for eating, often with a stew or gravy. Foo-foo is eaten in other parts of the Caribbean, notably Jamaica.


Q:  Who first scaled Mount Roraima?


A:  Everard Im Thurn and Harry Perkins, in 1884. Their expedition to try to climb Roraima was sponsored by the Royal Geographical society, the Royal Society and the British Association. Detailed accounts of their successful climb were prepared for Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society.

See Journey to the lost world


Q:  Which Guyanese cricketer made his test debut against India at Mumbai (Bombay), was Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1971 and became the first West Indian to win 100 Test caps?


A:  Clive Lloyd, former West Indies captain. He is widely regarded as the greatest ever West Indian captain for leading the West Indies team to the top of world cricket during the period 1974-1985. After retiring as a player, he managed the West Indies team in the 1990s and was an ICC Match Referee from 2001-2006. More about Lloyd.


Q:  What was the significance of Calabash Creek in the early development of New Amsterdam?


A:  A tributary of the Canje River, it was the main source, via a canal, of water for the town.  


Q:  What is the Mari-Mari dance?


A:   Mari-Mari is a traditional Arawak (Amerindian) dance. A man taking part in this dance may have two female partners.


Q:  What time of year is kite-flying time in Guyana?


A:  The Easter holidays, especially Easter Monday. At this time every available open space is invaded by kite fliers, young and old alike. Notable among the popular kite-flying haunts is the Georgetown Sea Wall. This tradition is shared with other countries in the Caribbean.

 Kite-flying - Guyana, 1866


Q:  Why did hosts sometimes lay two places for Sir Lionel Luckhoo at official banquets?


A:  When he was High Commissioner in London, Sir Lionel represented both Guyana and Barbados.


Q:  When was the Lethem Police Station in the Rupununi destroyed by gunfire and policemen  riddled by bullets as they tried to escape.


A: In 1969 during the Rupununi Uprising.


Q:  Who is a touchau?


A:  A touchau is the captain or chief or head chief of an Amerindian village. The touchau and a village council run the affairs of the village.


Q:  How did Brickdam in Georgetown get its name?


A:  Brickdam, a street, was the main and middle and best surfaced street of the infant capital of Georgetown. Paved with bricks (hence its name) and with lamps on each side, it ran from the ferry stelling (then called King's Stelling) going east. Later, it was surfaced with burnt earth and in 1921 it was hastily macadamized for the visit of the Prince of Wales from England (later King Edward VIII).


Q:  Why was the northern section of Bourda Market, now occupied by vendors’ stalls, called Bourda Green?


A:  It was once an open, green, grassy field, a favorite spot for large political meetings. Notably, from the late 1940s and into the 1950s, Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham addressed mass meetings of their followers there. It was the common practice for women to protect themselves against the night air in jackets (mostly their husbands') and to take along folding chairs or benches to sit on "The Green" during the long political speeches. Before it was called Bourda Green, the area was untended and was called Bourda Pasture.


Q:  Clive Lloyd’s cousin was a distinguished member of Georgetown, Guyana’s  Demerara Cricket Club. This cousin was rated Number One bowler in test cricket during the period 1964 – 1968 by the Price Waterhouse Coopers rating system. Who was he? 

A:  Lance Gibbs - one of the finest bowlers in cricket history. Born September 29, 1934 in Georgetown, Guyana,  he played 79 matches and took 309 test wickets at an average of 29.09 runs per wicket during the period 1958 to 1976.


Q:  There was a person, in Guyanese folk belief, who could hide her skin under a mortar at night. Who was she?

A:  The ol' higue. 


Q:  The name Guyana is Amerindian in origin. What does it mean?


A:  Land of  Many Waters


Q:  What gave Guyana's 3 counties their names?


A:  The major rivers running through them: Essequibo, Demerara, Berbice. The counties were once three separate colonies but later united to become one.


Q:  What are the two Christian holy days observed as national holidays in Guyana?


A:  Good Friday and Christmas Day


Q.  Which Guyanese, best known as a writer and thinker, once acted with Sir Laurence Olivier while he was living in London?


A. Jan Carew


Q:  Does the Amerindian piaiman (medicine man) invoke spirits in his healing ceremonies?


A:  If you were to attend one of these ceremonies, you would likely hear not only the voice of the piaiman (pronounced pee-EYE-man), but seemingly other voices as well. Many investigators believe that the piaiman is an expert ventriloquist (which would explain the "other voices"), but more importantly, he has intimate knowledge of the healing plants of the forest. He has been known to bring back to  with his special brews people regular doctors could not help.  (For an account of a séance, click here.)


Q:  What do Guyanese mean by a "stelling"?


A:   A pier or dock. A platform, providing access to ships and boats, built out from the shore into the water and supported by piles. It may be open, or covered to provide protection from the weather. Many provide spaces for offices and shops. Stelling is said to be an old Dutch word.


Q:  On June 14 every year, Guyana commemorates the shooting to death by police of 5 sugar estate workers in 1948. By what collective name are those workers called?


A:  The Enmore Martyrs.


Q:  Which lawyer was called to the bar in London, was Solicitor General of the West Indies Federation, was invited by Prime Minister Forbes Burnham to return home and became Guyana’s attorney-general, and was unanimously appointed the Commonwealth's second secretary-general? 

A:  Sir Shridath Surendranath Ramphal. Born in New Amsterdam, he was also widely known as S.S. Ramphal or Sonny Ramphal.

 More on Ramphal.  An article by Ramphal


Q:  How did James Warren Jones make Guyana known all over the world?

A:  James Warren Jones was better known as Jim Jones. The news of the mass suicide of the members of his People's Temple of Christ, at the location near to Port Kaituma which came to be known as Jonestown, shook the world. The number of persons who died was 911.


Q:  Who is an Aboriginal Indian?


A:  An Amerindian. Aboriginal Indian is an old expression.


Q:  What very interesting bird is featured on Guyana's Coat of Arms?


A:  The Canje Pheasant - there are two of them. Canje Pheasant is the Guyanese name for the hoatzin, which is a two-foot long bluish, pheasant-like bird with a naked face. Curiously, very young birds have distinctive claws on their wings. They use the claws to creep along tree branches. As the birds mature, the claws disappear. 


Q:  What is the religion of the people who observe the national holidays Eid Ul Azha and Youman Nabi with special ceremonies?


A:  Islam. The adherents are Muslims.


Q:  Which is the commonest poisonous snake found in the interior of Guyana?


A:  The labaria, the same as the dreaded Fer-de-lance of the West Indies. It is rarely more than four feet in length, but its bite, if not treated properly, can be fatal within 48 hours.


Q:  Which of the poisonous snakes in Guyana is the most feared?


A:  The bushmaster. It is the world's largest pit viper and the volume of venom it injects is quite large. The bushmaster's bite can kill more swiftly than the labaria's, and it is a larger creature - sometimes reaching twelve feet in length. Fortunately, it is not quick to bite and generally will react only when you tread on it or otherwise disturb it. Occasionally, however, the bushmaster has been known to aggressively attack people.


Q:  What is The Golden Arrowhead?


A:  The name of the national flag of Guyana.


Q:  Which is the longest and largest river in Guyana?


A:  The Essequibo River. It is about 600 miles long, almost the length of the whole of Guyana.


Q:  Guyanese celebrate Phagwah (Holi) and Diwali as holidays.  These festivals come from what religion?


A:  Hinduism. 


Q:  What animal with a Haitian name eats grass and lives in water?


A:  The manatee. It's a favorite at the zoo in Georgetown, Guyana. Manatee or manati is a name given it by the early Amerindians who lived in Haiti. The name is  believed to mean "big beaver."


Q:  A generally held belief among old-timers in Guyana was that Dutch settlers would bury their accumulated treasures under a certain kind of tree. What kind of tree?


A:  The silk-cotton tree.


Q:  "Woe to the enemy who it can overturn and hold in the unrelaxing grip of its huge claws." What animal was the author referring to?


A:  The ant bear. The author was Brett, "the apostle to the Indians" of  Guyana (then British Guiana). From him and other qualified observers, we have come to learn that this normally quiet and harmless, ant-eating animal can defend itself against humans and animals when circumstances require it.


Q:  Who was a porkknocker?


A:  He was a prospector and miner. He was a colorful figure, a rugged individualist and has been responsible for most of the great discoveries of gold and diamonds in Guyana's interior. Typically, when he struck it rich, he spent his fortune in ways both tragic and comic.


Q:  Why did the old-time porkknocker wear a cotton band tied below the knee?


A:  It was believed to protect one against rheumatism and/or to ensure good luck.


Q:  If a Guyanese were to approach you and greet you with the expression "Naamaste", what conclusion about him is likely to be correct?


A:  That he is a Hindu. Naamaste is a greeting used by Hindus.


Q:  Who, in Guyana,  is a boviander?


A:  A person who is a mixture of Black and Amerindian. The origin of the word is believed to be "bovenlander"- Dutch for "highlander" or "uplander." Amerindians were relative highlanders to most Guyanese as the overwhelming majority of Guyanese live on the low coastland areas.


Q:  Guyana-born E.R. Braithwaite wrote a novel based on experiences gleaned from teaching in England. What is the name of the book and the very popular film made from it?


A:  To Sir With Love


Q:  How did the rarest stamp in the world, Guyana's famous "penny magenta" or "one-cent black-on-magenta"  come to be printed?


A:  In the 1850s, British Guiana's stamps were printed in England. Whenever there was a delay in the shipment of stamps and  the post office had none, stamps were printed locally. Each stamp was then initialed by the Postmaster or one of his clerks in order to lessen the risk of counterfeiting.  The famous "penny magenta" or "one-cent black-on-magenta" was one of these stamps. It was produced in 1856 by the printers of a local paper, the Royal Gazette.


Q:  Certain rivers in Guyana's interior are known to have the fiery-eyed silver-sided demon called "the wickedest fish that swims." What is the name of that fish?


A:  The pirai or piranha. It has quite large, triangular and extremely sharp cutting teeth. It fears nothing and attacks any living thing that moves, no matter how large it is. The pirai rips a chunk of tissue out of a person's body,  leaving a round, crater-shaped wound.  Blood in the water drives the pirai crazier yet.


Q:  Is it true that vampire bats may be found in Guyana? And is it true that these bats suck blood?


A:  Yes, there are vampire bats in Guyana. The interior of the country is home to a wide variety of fascinating animals. The vampire bat does not suck blood as you would suck your finger. After making a quick and painless incision in the skin of the, very likely sleeping, victim, it drinks the blood. The blood is drawn up through grooves in the underside of the tongue.

See Dr Blair


Q:  What major product has Guyana been producing in competition with the Carolinas for centuries?


A:  Rice. The following quotation from a dispatch written by Gravesande, the Dutch Governor of  Essequibo, in June, 1750 was included in Vincent Roth's article "A Chat About Rice": "The soil in our colonies produces rice of a much better colour and size than that of Carolina and it has this important advantage over it; whereas in Carolina it takes a year to grow each crop, five months only are required in Essequibo."


Q:  What fish found in Guyana is regarded as the largest fresh water fish in the world?


 A:  The arapaima. It has been known to attain a length of 15 feet and weight of 400 pounds. The fish were once widespread throughout Guyana but are now (year 2001) found only in the Rewa, Essequibo and Rupununi rivers in the North Rupununi area of Guyana.


Q:  What are the Dai Dai and Water Mamma?


A:  They are mythical river monsters of Guyana. The Dai Dai or Water Devil was believed by the Amerindians to be especially ferocious, upsetting boats and devouring occupants.


Q:  The first Europeans to settle in Guyana were the Dutch. What crop did they first cultivate?


A:  Cotton.


Q:  Where in Guyana was sugar first produced?


A:  On the Pomeroon River at the village of New Middelburg. By 1660, the Dutch colonists reported sugar production there.


Q:  What are ant cows? And where could you see them in Guyana?


A:  They are "cows" maintained by ants in their nests for the purpose of "milking" them. The "cows" are fat white insects known as aphids, and the "milk" is the substance they secrete. Ants seem to love this substance. If you were to see thousands of ants (called umbrella or parasol or kooshi ants) each carrying a bit of leaf like an umbrella, you would be seeing the harvesting of leaves on which fungus would be grown to feed the "ant cows". Millions of ants would raid trees and plants in a selected area, stripping them bare of leaves.


Q:  Why does a  life-size painting of Sir Walter Raleigh (Ralegh) hang in Guyana's legislative chamber?


A:  Why indeed! Most scholars think it should not be there. Sir Walter never saw or visited what is Guyana today. The Guiana of Sir Walter's dreams was all of the north coast of South America from the Orinoco to the Amazon rivers. And he pinned his hopes on the Orinoco section of this huge land mass. However, Governor Sir Edward Denham, Governor of British Guiana, repeatedly described Sir Walter Raleigh as a pioneer of the country and presented a life-size portrait of the English adventurer to the colony. Nobody changed that.


Q:  What substance did boys use for making cricket balls in Guyana?


A:  Balata, produced from the gum or latex of the bulletwood tree. The gum was boiled in water to soften it, then it was rounded into a ball. The main industrial use of balata was however in the manufacture of machinery belting.


Q:  What is bushrum?


A:  Illicit rum, generally made in the secrecy of the bush or thick vegetation. This rum was once very popular and profitable to those who made (distilled) it. A bushrum raid by the police was a big event in many villages. Hardly any bushrum is made today. The big distilleries make rum much more cheaply than small operators could.


Q:  What is the preferred crab for making crab-backs in Guyana?


A:  The Buck Crab. Crab-backs are, of course, the seasoned meat of the crab served in the crab's own shell. Parsley and pepper are almost always among the seasonings. The Buck  is large as crabs go, with a bluish or greenish grey body, purple legs and white underside. It lives in the deep holes it digs in the mud.


Q:  What is a crab march?


A:  The actors in the crab march are blue Bunduri crabs of the North West and the Essequibo Coast - the largest crabs in Guyana. During the mating season between late August and early September, one particular spring tide brings them out in their millions and for hours they literally cover the beaches. Closely packed, bodies and claws knock against each other making a dull metallic sound for the period this crab carnival lasts. It is also possible to see lines of marching crabs headed for some particular destination, crossing roadways in the process.


Q:  What crab in Guyana does not live in its own shell?


A:  The Hermit or Soldier Crab. The hinder part of its body is soft and unprotected. So it finds a shell of the snail-like mollusc that is of suitable size and inserts itself in it. When it outgrows that shell, it looks for a larger one and occupies that. There is sometimes great competition among Hermit Crabs for mollusc shells on the beach.


Q:  What poses the greatest danger in Guyana's forests (bush)?


A:  According to Vincent Roth, falling trees and branches - not snakes, or jaguars or other wild creatures. Roth has had 25 years' experience living and traveling in Guyana's interior.


Q:  What was or who was El Dorado?


A:  When early European explorers were searching for gold in the Americas, they came to believe that in Guiana there was a city which was on an island which was on a lake. In this city everything that could possibly be made of gold was of gold, even the streets and houses. There lived the royal El Dorado, Spanish for The Gilded One, who during a ceremony would have his high priest cover his body in gold dust.


Q:  What was the origin of the story of El Dorado?


A:  No one knows. However, one guess was that the Incas of  Peru, harassed and persecuted for gold and information about gold, might have invented this story to send Europeans searching elsewhere and thus get them off their backs. For more than 200 years, the Spanish, English and Dutch sent expedition after disastrous expedition in search of El Dorado.


Q:  Where did Europeans first settle in Guyana?


A:  Old Fort Nassau on the Berbice River. Abraham van Pere, a Dutchman, sailed up the river in September 1627 with forty men and twenty youths and settled there with the intention of trading with the Amerindians. Trade was done in salt, tobacco, wood and arnatto (annatto), a dye mainly for fabrics.


Q:  What in the history of Guyana is called The Ankoko Crisis?


A:  On October 12, 1966 the Guyana government discovered that Venezuelan soldiers were quietly taking over the island of Ankoko at the confluence of the Cuyuni and Wenamu rivers. The Venezuelans later occupied the entire island of Ankoko. The crisis was defused by diplomatic means. However, when the intrusion by the Venezuelans was discovered, there was a sense of alarm and President Burnham felt it necessary to address the nation about the development.


Q:  Who wrote the words and music of Guyana’s national anthem?


A:  The words of the anthem "Dear Land of Guyana" were written by Rev. H.I. Luker and the music was composed by R. C. G. Potter.


Q:  What is Anancy?


A:  The main actor and "hero" in Anancy stories. Anancy (or Anansi), named for an Ashanti (African) spider god and trickster, is portrayed as full of wile and cunning, through which he survives seemingly impossible situations.  Anancy stories are told everywhere in the Caribbean.


Q:  What is meant by "Associated States of the West Indies"?


A:  "States in association with Britain." In 1967, Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla and the three Windward Islands of Dominica, St. Lucia, and Grenada became Associated States. A fourth Windward Island, St. Vincent followed suit in 1969. Under this arrangement, Britain retained responsibility for external affairs and defence, but each of the Associated States was self-governing in its internal affairs, and its association with Britain was free and voluntary and terminable by either side at any time.


Q:  For what is Mount Ayanganna most remembered by Guyanese?


A:  The new Guyana flag was raised there to greet the first moments of Independence Day May 26, 1966 as part of the official Independence celebrations. A party composed of Guyana Defence Force soldiers and guides,  led by Adrian Thompson, ascended the mountain in for the flag-raising ceremony. The mountain is on the left bank of the Mazaruni River between the sources of the Ireng and Potaro Rivers. It is 6,700 feet high - the highest wholly Guyanese mountain. ( Mount Roraima is higher - 9,219 feet from the Guyana side - but is shared with Venezuela and Brazil).


Q: What are the uses of  half-boiled and fully-boiled casareep?


A:  Casareep, that important ingredient in Guyanese pepperpot, is an Amerindian invention and is made by grating cassava, adding water, squeezing out the liquid with a matapee, and boiling it. Fully-boiled casareep, the type used in pepperpot, is often thick and very dark brown or black in color and is used in the preservation of food. Among some tribes, the Akawaios for example, half-boiled casareep is prepared for everyday use while the fully-boiled casareep is used on long journeys, hunting or fishing expeditions or during periods of shortages. The very dark casareep keeps unspoiled for almost a year. The casareep with the best reputation comes from the Pomeroon area of the North West District.


Q:  What is the couvade?


A:  A custom among some peoples, Amerindians for example, in which the husband takes to his bed as if he is pregnant and delicate when his wife is going to have a baby. Among the Akawaios, the father would refrain from carrying out any physical exertion such as hunting, fishing, swimming, or horse riding for at least six months. He would also eat only food on which tareng ( ritual blowing) has been carried out. After the child is born, he would lie in his hammock to receive congratulations from relatives and friends. In the modern-day couvade, the father has many  of the symptoms associated with pregnancy.


Q:  Were there Bush Negroes in early Guyana?


A:  In British Guiana (Guyana) there were Bush Negroes in forested areas in Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo, but not a great deal is known about them. It is felt that Bush Negroes could not for long survive in British Guiana because the colonial policy was to relentlessly attack their settlements with the aid of indigenous Amerindians.


Q:  Who formulated Guyana's national motto: "One People, One Nation, One Destiny"?


A:  Brindley Horatio Benn. He was Deputy Premier and Minister of Education in the early PPP Government.


Q:  How old is the Speaker's Chair in Guyana's parliament?


A:  As old as Guyana's independence. It was given to the Government of Guyana by as a gift when Guyana attained independence in 1966.


Q:  He was born and grew up in New Amsterdam, Berbice in Guyana. He lived in Trinidad, England, Canada and Barbados, finally settling in England. Notable among his writings was the Kaywana Series. Who was he?


A:  Edgar Mittelholzer, the most prolific of all West Indian writers of his day. Most of his novels have been translated into French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish.


Q:  Who was the first woman to become a Cabinet Minister in Guyana?


A:  Janet Jagan, Minister of Labour,  and Housing in the pre-independence PPP government.


Q:  How is Guyanese pepperpot made?


A:  By cooking meat, preferably several kinds of meat, in a sauce that is mainly casareep. Cow-heel, beef and pork are favorite ingredients. Many people like hot peppers in their pepperpot, though these are not essential to its enjoyment. Other favorite spices are onions, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. The cooking can last two hours or more. If the pepperpot is brought to a boil once every day, with meat or casareep added as necessary, it lasts indefinitely. The YMCA in Guyana once had a pepperpot going for over 25 years. Older pepperpots have been reported. The Guyanese pepperpot is an Amerindian invention. The name pepperpot refers to another kind of dish in other parts of the Caribbean.


Q:  When did Berbice have a significant settlement of Jews?


A:  In 1639, a number of Jews, fleeing religious persecution in Brazil, settled in what was then the Dutch colony of Berbice. They later moved to Suriname.


Q:  For what purpose were punts used in Georgetown?


A:  Punts, flat-bottomed metal boats about thirty feet long and eight feet wide, were used by the sugar industry to move goods, especially sugar, during the period when there were still canals running through the city.


Q:  Which Georgetown street was  "paved with bricks" and had "lamps on each side" when Georgetown was still known as Stabroek?


A:  Brickdam


Q:  What is the largest, perhaps the most popular, sausage eaten in Guyana?


A:  Black pudding, sometimes called blood pudding.


Q.  Bourda is the name of a ward of Georgetown, the name of a street of the city, and the name of an old cemetery there. Who or what was Bourda?


A.  Joseph Bourda was the owner of Plantation Vlissengen, and a member of the Court of Policy. These locations were named after him. Bourda Market is the main market in the ward of Bourda. The Bourda Cemetery, which dates back to the 19th century was a private cemetery located in the old Vlissengen Plantation. It was the first such cemetery in Georgetown.



Q.  What name would you use for the beautiful plaited Amerindian baskets sold at craft stores in Guyana as containers for small vanity items?


A.  Pegalls or pegall baskets. They may be rectangular or round. Amerindians used pegalls for ceremonial occasions or to store household items, such as beads and arrowheads. Larger pegalls were used to store items such as clothing.