Tribute to sugar workers’ heroine Kowsilla

Monday marked the 53rd anniversary of the death of the humble housewife, Alice, more famously known as Kowsilla, who met with her demise during a demonstration against the denial of work to labourers at the Leonora Sugar Estate. Tribute was paid to the heroine of the sugar workers, on the West Coast of Demerara.Capture
On March 6, 1964, Kowsilla, along with a group of striking workers, squatted at the factory’s gate in Leonora as they staged a protest against the denial of labour to the estate workers. At the time, they were also rallying for the recognition of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU). The then General Manager of the Estate instructed the driver of a tractor to proceed through the bridge where the demonstration was being staged. The act, which took the protesters for granted, resulted in the death of Kowsilla and 14 persons being injured. Kowsilla, thereafter, became known as the heroine of sugar workers for her sacrificial act against the injustice to estate labourers.
This year, commemorations to honour the heroine, Kowsilla, took place as usual with scores of participants marching from the Leonora Public School to the Anna Catherina Cemetery where she was interred. A ceremony was conducted, during which wreaths were laid at her tomb and tributes were presented by sugar workers’ activists. Offering words of tribute were General Secretary of GAWU, Seepaul Narine; President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana, Carvil Duncan and President of the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO) among others.
The speakers maximised on the forum to highlight the current series of events which have been affecting sugar workers across Guyana. They alluded to the proposal by the Government to discontinue operations at several sugar estates. The activists noted that severe repercussions are to follow if the callous intentions are executed. In reference to the sacrificial act of Kowsilla, persons in attendance were reminded of challenges faced by the sugar industry in its history. Furthermore, they were encouraged to stand with the community against the projections which will not only negatively impact the livelihood of the sugar workers, but also have a damaging ripple effect on the country’s economy.