By Yogendra Ram

As a New York City resident, it’s easy to feel that you’ve seen it all. From the hustle and bustle of the subway cars to the streets of the five boroughs, one simple fact becomes apparent. We’re living in mankind’s most culturally diverse city and community on the face of the earth. The colors on this vivid canvas of cultures, blends into one, in which many small beautiful details can easily slip past the eyes. One color on this canvas of the city does not seem to catch the eye of many at first, and it represents the “Land of many waters and five peoples.”

Located just on the coast of northern South America, sharing a border with Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname, sits Guyana. All of the wonderful rivers which run throughout the entire country seemingly endless, is what gave Guyana its nickname, the Land of Many Waters. Guyana is home to five main ethnic groups they are as follows; Indigenous, East Indian, African, European (mainly Portuguese) and Chinese. Yet to the amazement of many it’s National Language is English!

Yes! A country in South America that has English as its primary language! Being from Guyana myself, the first question I’m always asked once the location of Guyana is established in conversation is “So you Speak Spanish, right?” Guyana is a former British colony and in the scope of things has only broken free of British rule recently on May 26, 1966. It is this one detail that will make you realize why this Country speaks English amongst all its Spanish and Portuguese speaking neighbors. On May 5, 1838 a ship of about 396 indentured laborers arrived in what was then “British Guiana.” They had nothing but their religion, clothes on their back and whatever small belongings they were allowed to bring. A majority of these laborers hailed from the North Indian Province of Uttar pradesh, India. A new diaspora begins to define itself over the years as the Indo-Caribbean country blossoms into a flower of multiple cultures. The land where Hindus, Muslims and Christians along with many other religions live in harmony and peace with each other.

New York City has become home for many Guyanese, who have migrated here seeking new opportunities and higher standards of living. According to the census bureau a total of 122,820 Guyanese reside in New York City as of 2020, with a majority of said population occupying the boroughs of Queens and the Bronx. The area of Queens known as Richmond Hill is now always referred to as “Little Guyana.”

Writing this Article raised a lot of feelings of love and pride for my Country and of course I have Mr. George Capsis to thank for this. Upon my meeting with this sharp and amiable 95 year old man, he inquired of my background. It sparked in me a fire of pride for the information I was about to spew at him. It was only then that I realized how little is known of not only Guyana but many other beautiful countries and cultures of the world that can be found right here within our very own New York City. The canvas is there for lall to see, look closely and concisely and you’ll learn of something or someone new everyday just like Mr. Capsis did.

1 thought on “Guyana, the “Land of Many Waters”

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      Average and highly embellished piece. Scattered basic inaccuracies like stating it’s five groups- not the case. Also, a more appropriate title would’ve been an ‘indo Guyanese perspective’ since the article failed to mention of other groups’ journey to then British Guiana.

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