June 25, 2017

Fathers define their roles

By Utamu Belle

Victor Fernandes

One of my fondest childhood memories of my father, which will remain with me forever, is him carrying me on his shoulders to watch the fireworks display to ring in the new year. I am usually overwhelmed when I get nostalgic about my father, because I realised that spending quality time with him was one of the things that brought joy to my little heart.

Today, we celebrate the unconditional love of all fathers, whether biological or adoptive.

Sunday Times Magazine interviewed two hardworking fathers in Linden for this special Father’s Day feature. They recalled their experiences as fathers and the importance of “being there” for their children.

Joel Gonsalves is a young father of a five-year-old daughter. He admitted that having a daughter has been a bit of a challenge, as he believes “extra care is needed when raising girls”. However, he enjoys every bit of his role as a father.

“Seeing a smile on her face is what brings me happiness. Once she looks through the window and sees me, she would run down the steps and jump up on me. That is what brings me joy; to know that every day I can put a smile on her face. I would give her the world; I would give her everything,” the father declared.

Joel described a “good father as one which sets the right example” and “teaching children that sometimes they may not get everything they want”, a lesson he teaches his daughter.

Joel Gonsalves

What irks Joel are fathers who neglect and abuse their children. “I can’t see how anyone can abuse their own blood. I’m very peculiar with my daughter. I’m very protective of her,” he declared.

Joel quipped that his only impediment as a father is that he spoils his daughter.

“What I find is that some parents don’t really have plans for their children’s future. So I would advise them to ensure they do. When you invest in their future and they’re successful, then you have had your reward as a parent,” he urged.

This publication also interviewed Victor Fernandes, father of a 28-year-old daughter. He explained that fatherhood comes with “numerous responsibilities and commitment”.

“As a father, you have a responsibility to nurture and mould the family, give guidance, ensure security in every respect, ensure that financial needs are met and everything is provided for,” the doting father expressed.

Victor said he and his daughter have “always been friends”, because he wants her to feel free to approach him anytime. He gives her advice as a father and also as a friend.

Expressing disappointment in those fathers who have neglected their roles, Victor said: “There are fathers who are not respected because they are absent from their children’s lives. Being a father is a sacred and serious role; it should not be taken lightly.”

 

Capturing the Essence of Fatherhood

A heart-warming painting by Griffith

Through their art, Shimuel Jones and Michael Griffith capture the meaning of fatherhood, saying that fathers should not only be financial providers, but also nurturers.

Shimuel Jones is a Guyanese artist noted for possessing immense skill in painting, drawing or sculpting. His thought-provoking piece “Father and Son” depicts a son embraced by his father.

“What is most significant about this painting is the book that the child is holding.  As a father, it is important to not only be a monetary provider, but someone who nurtures the mind of his children. Reading is one of the many ways a father can educate and nurture the minds of his children,” Joel explained in an interview with Sunday Times Magazine.

Being the third of his siblings, he described his childhood as “pretty interesting” since he safely enjoyed it. Jones’ father is an artist, so one can say he was born with this special talent, which was also nurtured by his father.

This ‘nurturing’ eventually helped Jones become a notable artist. His accomplishments include working for a number of charities in Guyana and showcasing his works at many art shows, including performing art shows.

Jones’ exhibitions and awards include Marriott Hotel Guyana exhibition (2016); Inter- Guiana Cultural Festival (IGCF) Georgetown, Guyana Competitions 2016; Wine and Art Competition 2015; Jazz and Art Exhibition 2013 – Carifesta XI – Paramaribo, Suriname; Nola Hatterman Art Exhibition – Paramaribo, Suriname 2013; Tenth Biennial Republic Bank Drawing Competition 2013; Guyana Visual Arts Competition, receiving the Promising Artist Award 2013; Inter- Guiana Cultural Festival (IGCF) Cayenne French Guiana; University of Guyana Graduating Class Exhibition 2012; Ninth Biennial Republic Bank Drawing Competition receiving the Bronze Medal and Honourable Award 2012; Folklore Exhibition – In commemoration of African Heritage Month in Guyana 2011; Guyana Visual Arts Competition – shortlisted 2009; Seventh Biennial Republic Bank Sponsored Drawing Competition receiving first prize.

Explaining his artworks capturing the essence of fatherhood, Michael Griffith said: “My piece with the family more or less depicts the father’s willingness to care for his family. The gentle kiss on the forehead is a sign of respect and patience. His outstretched arms enclosing them signify him being a protector. This union between mom and dad serves as an example to the observing child. My other drawing with the father and daughter captures the bond between a young girl and her dad. Her adoration for him is mirrored in the way she kisses him, as if she’s saying, ‘Thank you for being my dad.”

In an interview with this publication, Griffith mentioned that he grew up in a humble home in South Georgetown. He revealed that he had to drop out of school at 16 to contribute to his family.

“In order to accommodate my desire to draw I had to find a flexible job without supervision so I sold watches on the pave. I practiced my art, improving my skills with experience alone. In September 2009, I joined the Burrowes’ School of Art’s evening one-year certificate programme. This was significant in polishing my drawing skills. After that my life changed and I took art as a profession more seriously,” he recalled.

Knowing the importance of a father figure, due to his personal experiences, Griffith dedicatedly cares for his own family, especially his two daughters.

His dedication to his work, in order to provide for his family, has helped him to receive many accolades. For his outstanding portraits, the artist copped first prize in the Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition 2012 and first prize in the Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition 2014.

 

The ‘Superdad’ from Essequibo

Richard displays his handcrafted toys

A single-parent, amputee and toy maker, Richard Moshette is defying all odds to care for his three children

Two years ago, Richard Moshette made a life-changing decision to amputate his right leg, due to diabetes. This “difficult decision” was made to ensure he would live to care for his three sons, but losing his leg was not Richard’s only heartrending loss.

In an interview with Sunday Times Magazine, Richard disclosed that after he was diagnosed with diabetes, and had to later amputate his leg, his wife left him after 13 years together.

Crafting his toys

“She left me and our three sons. It was the saddest moment. Living without a wife is one of the most difficult experiences. There is no one to advise you when life gets complicated. But, I am determined to continue caring for my children, and to exercise faith,” Richard declared.

A resident of Anna Regina New Housing Scheme, in Region Two, the 42-year-old father of three sons (Tariq, Kevin and Eric) is the sole breadwinner of his family. Richard said he not only fulfils his responsibilities as a father, but tries to “fill the gap” as a result of his wife’s absence, “providing the love and attention” his sons need.

The doting father also mentioned that although he struggles with just one leg, he ensures his children’s breakfast and lunch are prepared before they go off to school.

Richard’s sons

“Getting around on one leg is difficult and tiring, but I am determined to earn so that I can send my boys to school. I only had primary education, but I want my boys to be educated and have a bright future,” the devoted father expressed.

Before his amputation, Richard worked as carpenter; however, he had to search for another source of income after losing his leg. That was when he remembered making toy tractors during his childhood. He then visited a nearby sawmill and requested “scrap” wood, which he crafted into a fun toy tractor. Subsequently, he made a toy Hymac, a truck and an entire house. Richard’s wooden toys were applauded by fellow villagers, which motivated him to continue his craft.

The crafter said one of his toy tractors would take almost one week to build, as he spends time “neatly chiselling” them. Toys range from GYD$3,000 to GYD$12,000 – depending on what is requested.

“I spend sleepless nights trying to earn an extra dollar for my children. I will never give up as a father. Though the money isn’t a lot, as I don’t get much orders, I still try to make ends meet. I am determined to make my children happy,” Richard conveyed.

Kevin lovingly hugs his father

The toy maker said he is grateful to God and his mother, Rosie Moshette, for giving him faith and support.

His advice to his fellow single fathers is “to have patience and always think positively; only then will things work out”.

This publication also interviewed Richard’s 15-year-old son, Kevin, who communicated that he truly admires the determination of his “superdad”.

“I won’t trade him for anyone else,” Kevin said staunchly.

Kevin stated that on Father’s Day, he and his brothers make a card for their father, recognising his invaluable efforts. During the interview, Kevin expressed his gratitude for his father by hugging and kissing him.

Richard’s mother also expressed admiration for her son’s efforts in caring for his children. She said Richard aptly takes care of his household without seeking her help, and for that she is proud.

Outlining the benefits of getting a prosthetic leg, Richard said it will aid in him being more mobile and be better able to provide for his sons. He also hopes to get more orders for his toys.

To contact Richard, please call 592-612-8612. (Indrawattie Natram)

Parabara

Parabara is a small indigenous community located in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), along the scenic Kuyuwini River. The village was founded in 1969 and was occupied by six households. Now, the village is populated by persons who have migrated from different communities, amounting to about 23 households. The residents’ first language is Wai-Wai; second, Wapishana; and third, English.

Major economic activities in this quiet and scenic village are farming, fishing and hunting.

A primary school, ‘health hut’, church, ‘rest house’ and village office are Parabara’s main buildings. (Village information from the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs website, http://moipa.gov.gy. Photos from http://mykenlara-guyana.blogspot.com)

Loaded canoe arrives at Parabara landing on the Kuyuwini River

A section of the village

Canoe moored at Parabara landing

The village is rich in flora, like this large canopy liana also called a ‘Bush Rope’ tree

Scenic mountain and savannah on the way to Parabara

‘The Father of Trade Unionism’

Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow

Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow [often referred to as the “Father of Trade Unionism”] was born in Georgetown on December 18, 1884. His father, James Nathaniel Critchlow, had emigrated from Barbados and was employed as a wharf foreman by the Booker Group of Companies, while his mother Julia Elizabeth Critchlow, née Daniels, was originally from the Essequibo coast.

Young Hubert Critchlow attended the Bedford Wesleyan Primary School, but left when he was 13 years old, after his father died. He had reached up to Standard 4 (equivalent to Grade 6 in [today’s] schools), but he felt that he had to find a job to help maintain his home.

While attending school, Critchlow excelled in sports and continued to do so as a young man. He soon became a popular sports figure, and during the period 1905-1914 he was the country’s middle-distance athletic champion. He was also a good footballer and cricketer.

Soon after Critchlow left school, he worked as an apprentice at the Demerara Foundry, and at the turn of the century, he obtained employment as a dock labourer on the waterfront. Due to his active representation of his fellow workers during the 1905 strike in Georgetown, his popularity grew. He continued to champion workers’ rights, and was always called upon to represent their case to employers in the years that followed.

During the strikes in 1917, he represented the interest of waterfront workers in collective bargaining, and by then was regarded as the leader of all waterfront workers. He became even more popular when he helped to secure increase wages for them.

Statue of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow on the lawns of the Parliament Building (Photo by Amanda Richards)

In the period of 1917-18, Critchlow led a petition for an 8-hour day. He was pressured by the Chamber of Commerce to withdraw his name from the petition, after all the other petitioners were forced to do so, but he obstinately refused. He was immediately fired from his job and blacklisted from obtaining employment, and he had to depend on assistance from close friends for sustenance.

Being unemployed, he devoted all his time to the campaign for the 8-hour work day. In December 1918, he and a small delegation of workers met with the Governor, Sir Wilfred Colet. It was after this meeting that Critchlow developed the idea of forming a trade union, and he immediately began making the arrangements for its formation. The union, the British Guiana Labour Union (BGLU), was eventually established on January 11, 1919. The union experienced numerous problems on its establishment. The employers saw it as a force aimed at fomenting industrial unrest, and issued open threats to workers who were union members. Despite this, membership grew and by the end of its first year, it had more than 7,000 financial members comprising waterfront workers, tradesmen, sea defence and road workers, railroad workers, balata bleeders and miners, some Government employees and hundreds of sugar estate labourers. Branches of the union were also set up in various parts of the country.

Critchlow was employed on a full-time basis by the union, and he never stopped being a spokesman for the workers, and publicised their grievances and demanded improved working conditions and better wages for them. But he faced opposition from the more educated members of the union who felt that his limited education should not allow him to have such high responsibilities. These members, who were in the minority, wanted a doctor or a lawyer to lead the union.  In January 1920, at a meeting of the union, a motion was introduced requesting Critchlow to hand over all the union’s funds to Dr. T. T. Nichols, and two lawyers, J. S. Johnson and McClean Ogle.

But the motion was rejected by a huge majority and a vote of confidence in Critchlow was passed.  Today, a statue of Critchlow stands on the lawns of the Parliament Building. (Information from “The Guyana Story – From Earliest Times to Independence” by Dr. Odeen Ishmael)

West Indian History and Literature by Frank Birbalsingh

By Petamber Persaud

Frank Birbalsingh

Frank Birbalsingh is not contented to rest on his laurels in any area of his expertise, including deserved labels/titles such as ‘literary critic’, ‘prolific book reviewer’, ‘exceptional anthologist’, ‘cricket historian’, ‘oral historian’, ‘specialist of West Indian and Indo-Caribbean literature’ and ‘author’.

His achievements include massive, and oftentimes, ground-breaking scholarly works like “Jahaji Bhai: An Anthology of Indo-Caribbean Literature” (1988); “Indenture and Exile: The Indo-Caribbean Experience” (1989); “Indo-Caribbean Resistance” (1993); “Jahaji: An Anthology of Indo-Caribbean Fiction” (2002); “Passion and Exile: Essays in Caribbean Literature” (1988); “Frontiers of Caribbean Literature” (1996); “Novels and the Nation: Essays in Canadian Literature” (1995); “Neil Bissoondath: The Indo-Caribbean-Canadian Diaspora” (2005); “Guyana and Caribbean: Reviews, Essays and Interviews – The Rise of West Indian Cricket” (1996); “The People’s Progressive Party of Guyana, 1950-1992: An Oral History” (2007); “Indo-Caribbean Test Crickets and the Quest for Identity” (2014); and “Guyana: History and Literature” (2016).

Resting on his laurels is not an option for Birbalsingh; rather, he now sits back and rearranges the feathers in his cap, shaping and designing them into monumental literary works. He aims at additional targets in his lifelong quest to share knowledge, correct falsification of our literary heritage and to bring elucidation. This is what he does in his two most recent publications: “Guyana: History and Literature” (2016) and “West Indian History and Literature” (2016).

The comprehensiveness achieved in “Guyana: History and Literature”, Birbalsingh tries to replicate in “West Indian History and Literature”, with slightly less success. With “Guyana: History and Literature”, he was dealing with the history and literature of one country – a place close to his heart, a place on which he was writing since his first major publication. With “West Indian History and Literature”, the scope of coverage/scholarship extends to numerous countries – all with varying cultural, social issues and political backgrounds – even though all of these countries share a commonality in sugar, slavery, indentureship, colonialism and Anglo-centric economic model, which had ‘psycho-sociological effects that instilled and codified cultural imitativeness, subservience and habits of dependence’.

Birbalsingh, a master anthologist and oral historian, was up to the challenge, producing yet another document of immense value.

“West Indian History and Literature” covers the history and literature of the Anglophone Caribbean, the West Indies – a region that was Columbus’ mistake – a mistake of a name that has come into common usage.

Basically, this significant document contains 88 reviews of books by 81 authors, of which more than one third are women writers. The themes explored are wide-ranging with far-reaching effects, coming from way in the past and reaching into the present, including exploitation, healing, innovation, psychological mimicry, identity, universal transience, emigration and the diaspora, divisions in race, colour and class, independence and its aftermath.

The most formidable element of this book is that its author relies heavily on works of fiction and poetry, staking his reputation of sound scholarship. But Birbalsingh knows the landscape too well to falter in his quest, as he states, “writers of historical fiction” … steer… “dexterously… between history and fiction, without slipping completely into either”.  He is circumspect and his reputation is intact, in fact, his reputation has grown.

And Birbalsingh supports his claims with samples of literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, bringing to the fore rare and out-of-print texts.

For instance, to kick-start his history of the region, Birbalsingh uses texts like “The Discovery of Guiana” (1596) and “Creoleana” (1842), the first novel by a native-born author.

To mark the end of slavery and the beginning of the Indian experience in the Caribbean, he cites “Busha’s Mistress” (1855); “Corentyne Thunder” (1941); and “The Cup and the Lip” (1953).

Fast forward to independence, which did not bring the promised changes, he turns to the pages of “Independence” (2014), and other works.

Then there was the creation of the diaspora and the pains of homelessness in the pages of “A Distant Shore” and “The Small fortune of Dorothea Q”.  Along with the history of the region, Birbalsingh matches the history of the region with the history of its literature in a seemingly seamless manner.

In the end, it is “all’s well that ends well” or so we hope as addressed in the closing paragraphs of both the preface and introduction in the book. In the preface, it states that “‘West Indian History and Literature’ offers observations, opinions and reactions that prove defiant, sustaining, enduring” and “a human capacity to endure trial and tribulation until evil exhaust itself”. And the introduction concludes with the moot that Caribbean experience is a collection of remnants and bits and pieces coming from our varies ancestries and “that daily, human transactions are largely a matter of mixing memories and matching fragments, improving, devising and creating in a continuing, daily, Caribbean effort to survive and endure”.

Responses to this author telephone (592) 226-0065 or email: oraltradition2002@yahoo.com

US-bases Guyanese is hairstylist to Hollywood’s biggest stars

US-based Guyanese hairstylist Marcia Hamilton

Born in Georgetown, Guyana, and raised in California’s Silicon Valley, U.S., hairstylist Marcia Hamilton is known for her ability to mesh old school beauty with up to the minute trends and techniques.

She discovered her passion for art and style at an early age, but against her mother’s predictions, Hamilton had ambitions of becoming an auto mechanic. After a series of life changing events, destiny led her to the inevitable path of a career in hair care.

Hamilton began her hair care education under strict training from the Pivot Point Academy Program in the U.S. and later continued her advanced education at the Vidal Sassoon Academy, Redken International and Toni & Guy Academy. From there, she moved to Los Angeles and began assisting various celebrity hairstylists.

She forged a name for herself while collaborating with stylists by applying her knowledge and skill in hair colour to create unique styles for international stars like Brandy, Eve, Kelly Roland and Serena Williams. With fierce determination and a curiosity for the unknown, Hamilton started venturing to New York where she was mentored by hair industry giants Orlando Pita, Guido Palau, and Teddy Charles.

The hairstylist has worked on numerous fashion shows for Oscar De La Renta, Tom Ford, Caroline Herrera, Derek Lam, Marc Jacobs and Dian Von Furstenburg. She draws her inspiration from these experiences, which is evident in her uninhibited approach when creating iconic looks for clients and innovative projects.

When Hamilton is not coiffing in her private studio, at the Juan Juan Center in Beverly Hills, she can be found on sets, creating magic from Los Angeles to New York. She divides her time between cities working in beauty, print, film, music video, runway and advertising. Her artistic creations frequently appear in publications like Teen Vogue, Nylon, Shape, Essence, Vanity Fair and W magazines.

Hamilton has created the looks for epic music videos like Willow Smith’s (actor Will Smith’s daughter) “Whip My Hair” and Usher’s “OMG”. She has also coined iconic looks for major celebs, advertising campaigns and hit television shows. Her list of collaborators includes Pink, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Cindy Crawford, Zoe Kravitz, Target, Pravana, Macadamia Oil, Disney, TNT and many more.

For more information on Marcia Hamilton, visit www.marciahamilton.com

 

Funny Guyanese wedding stories

Traditionally, throughout the world, the month of June is associated with weddings and “June brides”. It is felt that if a marriage is consummated in June, it is perceived as a blessing and the chances of love and affection would unite couples into an everlasting bond.

Whether this is true or not, there are some Guyanese customs to which couples would adhere, regardless of the consequences: “Don’t look back while going up the aisle”; “jumping the broom”- a West African tradition; “don’t ever let a dog eat your wedding cake”; “don’t sweep one’s foot with a pointer broom prior to marriage”, are just a few.

The following are some true funny stories surrounding weddings in Guyana.

Cow itch powder or stinging nettle

It is believed that a bride must be attired in: “Something old; something new; something borrowed; something blue”, for good luck, and no bad omen would befall the marriage. However, at one Guyanese wedding, the bride borrowed a glove from her dear girlfriend, not realizing the friend had a crush on the groom. The friend wilfully laced the glove with “cow-itch or stinging nettle” powder, – a powder that would induce intense itching. At the wedding ceremony, before the exchange of vows, the problem began. The itching was very severe. Apparently the powder was transferred and dispersed to certain discrete parts of the bride’s anatomy. The itching was very noticeable and created an embarrassing scene. The groom, unaware of the problem, and in disgust, disappeared from the altar and the wedding was called off. Guess who was waiting outside the church to console him?

Wedding cake

It was also understood that if you are single and you place a very small piece of wedding cake behind your right ear, you would enhance and accelerate your chances of getting married. A 65-year-old-man, who would remain nameless, attended a well-known Guyanese wedding ceremony. In desperation he applied enormous amounts of wedding cake behind both ears. To make a long story short, he is still single today at 84.

Catching of the bouquet

The custom where the person who catches the bouquet is believed to be the next to marry is very evident at weddings. Before one wedding reception, the bride made arrangements with her best friend – her maid of honour who was single – to throw the bouquet in her direction. Somehow, the boyfriend of the maid of honour got wind of the plan. When the bouquet was released from the bride, the boyfriend intercepted and caught the bouquet. The maid of honour was so upset she ranted and raved. One month later, the boyfriend married someone else.

Dowry

It is customary at a Hindu wedding for the father of the bride to offer a satisfactory dowry to the groom. As long as the groom does not eat, the father has to continue offering possessions.  At one such Hindu wedding, the groom was not satisfied with the house and land that were offered. Not until he was promised a number of cows and sheep did he eventually eat, which showed his acceptance. After the wedding, he went to collect his dowry but was greeted with a severe beating by the family members. He then realized that the father-in-law never owned a house or any cattle in his entire life.

Marriage vows

During a wedding ceremony the preacher asked, “Does anyone know why these parties should not be joined together, speak now or forever hold your peace?” One member of the wedding party shouted, “The groom is gay.” Without any hesitation the bride blurted out, “So what? I know he is gay, he is always so joyful and happy.”

Rising up first

It is understood that when couples kneel at the altar to exchange their vows, it is thought that whoever gets up first will live longer than the other. In the haste to get up first, the groom accidentally stood on the bride’s dress causing her to fall prostrate at the feet of the pastor.

Pigeons

It is normal after the wedding ceremony to throw rice grains over the married couple for good luck as they leave the church. The groom, clad in a white suit, and the bride, wearing a gorgeous white gown, were greeted with a huge amount of rice grains landing on their heads. Suddenly, a drove of hungry pigeons appeared, stood on their heads, and had a feast. Simultaneously the pigeons decided to release some droppings which landed all over the married couple, leaving a random polka dot design on the white apparel of the couple. ( By Edgar Henry. Published in the Guyana Cultural Association of New York Inc. June 2012 Magazine)

 

Remembering a legend of Upper Demerara

By Dmitri Allicock

Walter Spence

Born and growing up in the Upper Demerara area of Linden, I have come to appreciate the great achievements of those who have lived there and contributed significantly to society and representing Guyana on the international map. One such individual is Walter Spence.

Walter Spence may be the first Guyanese to ever win an Olympic medal. He competed for Canada in the 1928 Olympics, winning a bronze medal.

Walter Percy Spence, born March 3, 1901, was a swimmer from British Guiana who competed for Canada in the 1928 Summer Olympics and 1932 Summer Olympics. He immigrated to the United States and held several national swimming titles there.

Spence was born in Christianburg, British Guiana, the oldest of eight children – four brothers and four sisters. His father was Scottish and worked as a big game hunter and guide, while his mother was Indian. Spence learned to swim in the Demerara River, along with his brother, where they survived many piranha bites. He and two of his younger brothers, Wallace and Leonard, became international champion swimmers. Two of the four Spence sisters also swam competitively, although not at the level of their brothers. The youngest Spence brother, Harold, showed great promise but was killed in action in World War II before his swimming career could take off.

After becoming the top swimmer in British Guiana, Spence moved to Trinidad and began competing there. After losing a freestyle race to a swimmer from Chicago, his first-ever loss in that type of competition, Spence decided to pursue training in the United States.

He arrived in the U.S. in 1923, where he eventually gained U.S. citizenship.

He began his U.S. career with the Brooklyn YMCA team, swimming the breaststroke and three-stroke individual medley. By 1925 he had broken ten world records and was the top point scorer at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national championships that year. He later competed with the Penn Athletic Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He competed for Canada in the 1928 Olympics and won a bronze medal in the 4×200 m freestyle relay event. He was also sixth in the 100 m freestyle event and sixth in the 200 m breaststroke event. Four years later he was fourth in the 4×200 m freestyle relay event. He was also fourth in his semi-final of the 100 m freestyle event and fourth in his semi-final of the 200 m breaststroke event and did not advance in both occasions. He later represented British Guiana at the 1938 British Empire Games. He won the silver medal in the 220 yards breaststroke contest and finished fourth in the 110 yards freestyle competition.

In 1930, Spence enrolled as a freshman at Rutgers University. He set the collegiate record in the 100 yard freestyle and earned the highest point score at the 1934 NCAA championships.  In 1934 he also broke the world record in the 300 yard three-stroke individual medley. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism on June 9, 1934.

After leaving Rutgers, Spence swam with the New York Athletic Club (NYAC). His two younger brothers, Wallace and Leonard, joined him in the United States in 1926 and 1928, respectively. The brothers competed for the NYAC in the three-stroke medley relay, with Wallace swimming the backstroke, Leonard the breaststroke, and Walter the front crawl. Together, they won the 1933 AAU championship title in the event and later set the world record during an exhibition at Rutgers. Joining with Peter Fick, they won the four-man 400-yard freestyle relay at the 1935 AAU championships.

After retiring from swimming, Spence worked as an insurance salesman for the Security Mutual Life Insurance Company in New York City. He married Sheila O’Connor and had five children: David (born c. 1942), Harold (born c. 1947), Donald (born c. 1950), Sheila (born c. 1952), and Wendy (born c. 1953).

Spence was killed in an accident on October 16, 1958 in White Plains, New York, while trying to board a train at the North White Plains station. He was on his way from New York City to his home in Hawthorne and had stepped off the train to call his wife during a stop at White Plains. When the train began to debark, he ran to catch it and attempted to re-board, but slipped and fell onto the tracks. He suffered severe injuries to his legs and died at White Plains Hospital an hour and a half later.

Nine years after his death, in 1967, Walter, Wallace, and Leonard Spence were inducted together into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

The Spence family of Christianburg, Upper Demerara, survives today but in limited numbers. Most have migrated around the world. Some of them are my precious relatives. Now, Walter Percy Spence is celebrated as one of the best swimmers ever produced by the rivers of Guyana.

Local Inventor creates shopping app

By Ramona Luthi

MatrixShopping app creator, Larry Morgan

In an effort to improve daily shopping experiences and promote local businesses, Guyanese inventor Larry Morgan is set to launch his debut app, MatrixShopping.

The 36-year-old Berbice resident’s aim is to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to promote their businesses and for buyers to shop hassle-free.

In an interview with Sunday Times Magazine, Morgan mentioned that via his app, which can be accessed worldwide, he hopes to “transform how Guyana does business, as we need to catch up when it comes to technology”.

Morgan pointed out that while the app has not yet been officially launched and is currently in a testing phase, it is being used by many.

“The app is on the Google Play Store and people are using it. We have received positive feedback. We plan on rolling out more exciting features of the app before the end of the year,” he stated.

When the MatrixShopping app is officially launched, main features such as niche markets and a forum connecting entrepreneurs and customers countrywide will be available. Additionally, Morgan plans to establish an online transportation service and develop a social media platform.

“Normally people upload items in Facebook groups and try to sell them that way. But with our ‘formula’, you will be able to reach a bigger audience, therefore giving you a better chance of selling your items or services,” Morgan explained.

Morgan described the app as a “space for buyers and sellers to communicate quickly, as well as allow them to speak directly to the creator of the platform to make recommendations, if need be”.

Interestingly, being in the tech field was not Morgan’s initial career plan. However, his ambition to be successful led him on such a path. Now, his mission is to not only to be successful, but to do his part in the development of his country.

“This free app not only helps businesses to grow, but also the country in general. It also simplifies lives in that it offers customers a convenient and safe place to shop,” Morgan pointed out.

The Matrix Shopping app is now available for download on the Google Play Store.