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History of the Wai Wais – by Ovid Williams

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First Published: 26th of August, 2020 by Patrick Carpen.

Last updated: October 17, 2023 at 15:42 pm

History of How Wai Wais Settled at Masakenari as Told by an Elder (Wayaka Mafefe)

The Wai Wais are originally from Brazil (ANAWA), now called Roraima. Through hunting expeditions, they became familiar with KANASHEN (GOD loves you). Kan is God in the Wai Wai language. Over years, lots of them inhabited the area and the population increased. There was a threat of an “invasion,” a police raid for illegal guns and a lot of families left the location. Some went back to Brazil, while some went to a place upriver of Kanashen called Shafalimo.

Three to five years after, the people regrouped at Kanashen. Again the people dispersed and some of them settled at Yaka Yaka (Sweet fig banana). From there, some people drifted downriver to a waterfall called Onororo-Kakshin. The chief then, at Kanashen, who wielded a lot of influence, was Chief Elka. After the introduction of Christianity, there was a further break away group to Aku.

It is important to note that there was an airstrip at Kanashen. So Gunns Airstrip is NOT Kanashen, but is in close proximity to Aku (2 miles) in a northeasterly direction. Aku in Wai Wai means a mortar, (used to pound TURU fruit)–a delicious chocolate-like beverage from palm tree.

At Aku ,the leader was Mawasha, then Ekufa and now Chekema. A guest house was constructed there, but up to when the people migrated, it was not in use. Heavy rains flooded the community of Aku in 1998 thus forcing the community to shift their homesteads to Masakenari (Mosquito Hill).

The chief there is still Toshao Chekema. It no longer has so many mosquitoes. Masakenari has a Nursery and Primary school, a health post, and a church. The entire village has 42 households with an estimated population of 262 persons.

Summary: The District is Kanashen, Region 9, Guyana.
The abandoned village of Kanashen is one day walking from Masakenari.
The Airstrip is Gunns Airstrip (named after a white missionary).
The village referred to as Gunns is Aku village in Wai Wai, Guyana.
Aku or Gunns Village is located 2 miles away in northeasterly direction from the airstrip.
Masakenari is the present village (3 miles) from Gunns airstrip in an easterly direction.

Morning Greeting in Wai Wai: MOFAGA–Good Morning
KIRWANIE….Thank you

Know you History! Know your People!
Be Proud to be Indigenous!
Happy Heritage.

by Ovid Williams

Amerindian Chief, Ovid Williams
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