Published: 19th of January, 2023Last updated: May 1, 2023 at 19:13 pm
After the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire around 1838, European plantation owners in Guyana, as well as throughout the Caribbean, looked to India for cheap labor. The myriads of stories passed down from generation to generation about the East Indians’ journey from India to Guyana help us fit pieces of a puzzle together and get a clear picture of the chain of events that culminated into the Guyana we know today.
Here is a beautiful poem written by prominent Guyanese citizen, Mr. Frank Satnarine, in which he describes his grandfather’s journey to the land that is now his home.
It was dark and cold; My family was all asleep. I gathered my things; And ran down the Street. Where are we going? My friend asked. Going to Demerara; We have to move fast. A long line of strangers Mutterings strange and loud. We sneaked our way in And passed that grumpy crowd. There the white man stood, Tall with pen in hand, What's your name boy? I trembled at his command. I am Jaggernauth, And my friend is Mangra. We wish to have a boat pass; We are going to Demerara. The sails were dropped around 6 am; My journey had begun; I am leaving India forever: My back turned towards the sun. Endless nights of counting stars, Stormy seas with bad dreams. I stood and braved them all: Even the sound of women's screams; Then.....there it was! In the horizon we saw her there! The news of land was welcomed... With a humongous cheer! Again I saw the white man As I stepped upon new land. You will work for me here in Leonora; That was his first command. I am Jaggernauth, And that's how I came. I hope that all my descendants Will never forget my name.
Written by Frankie Satnarine
Great grand son of Jaggernauth