Nostalgia…as Rupununi money

After a two-year hiatus, the Rupununi Rodeo was back with a bang last weekend!! The bang being provided by President Ali on a visit with a couple of his ministers. They brought out the usual entourage from the media – both governmental and private to tell the tale! Pres Ali is becoming like a paraphrase of the Scarlet Pimpernel – “They seek him here, they seek him there / Those PNCites seek him everywhere / Is he in heaven, or is he in hell? / That damned, elusive Pres Ali”!!
The Rupununi Rodeo’s been around for many moons and it always pulled the more adventurous souls from the Coast – along with some eco-tourists from “foreign”. They never came out in multitudes, however, and the event was always marked by the bucolic atmosphere of a remote ranch in a remote savannah region of a remote, backwater country! So, while most Guyanese know about Texas ranches, cowboys and bucking broncos, they aren’t aware that at one time our Rupununi had one of the largest ranches in the world – second only to the King ranch in Texas.
That’s the 1700-square-mile Dadanawa Ranch – founded in the mid-19th century along with all those Texas ranches and still there way south of Lethem. It’s now way past its glory days when it reared thousands of cattle and hundreds of vaqueros – our name for “cowboys”. Then, they’d laboriously carved out the over-a-hundred-mile “Rupununi trail” to get the cattle to the Demerara River and then ship them to Georgetown. That’s gone – as is the regular scheduled flights that succeeded it.
The Dadanawa Ranch is now more of a “Dude Ranch” for tourists to get a taste of our eco-tourism savannah product along with the unique cowboy touch. No Caribbean Island can match THAT!! Also now, along with some smaller ranches they do provide enough working vaqueros to put up its annual Rodeo around Easter. I guess like the rest of us on the coast, they had to’ve been influenced by the cowboy movies we all consumed back in the last century. And we see this influence in the “cowboy” hats the vaqueros don as they saunter about the place. And ride their bucking broncos and bills!
An interesting bit of trivia is Dadanawa was sold in the late 19th century to a white Bajan adventurer Melville. He married a local Wapishana girl to produce the Melville Clan. The novelist Pauline Melville’s from the family as is Shirley Melville, the GAP MP, who married into it. It took quite a while for them to live down their unsuccessful 1969 Rupununi rebellion. Now all is forgiven.
And Pres Ali will now be monetizing our “cowboy” tourist potential!

…for horror
In the last two weeks, Rwanda’s been in the news twice. First when Boris Johnson cut a deal with its President, Paul Kagame to accept all male refugees caught trying to get into Britain by water for US$158M! The same Rwanda that in 1994 saw 800,000 Hutus and Tutsis hacked to death and floated down the river!! The second was Kagame visiting Jamaica to educate them on how Rwanda’s become the economic success of Africa.
He’s been ruling for over 22 years now and will in all likelihood be ruling till he dies. He’s been regularly receiving more than 90% of the votes at elections so maybe he advised Holness on how to replicate that!! Or maybe the rest of the Caribbean including Guyana? So, how’d he do it? Well, most of the opposition leaders have been literally disappearing!!
The rest have been exposed to intimidation, violence, prison – in addition to the prospect of disappearing as soon as they criticise President Kagame and his ruling party!!

…for the PNC
Your Eyewitness once again warns about the danger of the PNC-as-Opposition disappearing from the scene. It might work in Rwanda since the West sees Kagame as their poster boy for their guided democracy.
But Guyana?