Mr. Reginald Lowtan Debah grew up in Port Mourant and attended Corentyne High School, graduating in 1952. As was customary, Mr. JC Chandisingh would offer the brightest grads teaching positions at the school. Mr. Debah was a math wizard in his time and he stayed on to teach mathematics for a few years before migrating to England where he still resides. He has never returned to visit Guyana but he hopes to in the not-too-distant future, mainly to visit his old school.
Mr. Debah shared with me a most unique and historical photograph. He thinks the pic was taken in the mid-1940’s but he has no recollection of who the photographer was nor how the pic came into his possession in the first place. The pic is of six friends who came from India to British Guiana in 1912 as indentured laborers. His father Bahadur Deba (1890 – 1951) is standing extreme right. Mr. Debah remembers everyone in the pic but does not remember their names (except for his father’s name of course). As a young high school student Mr. Debah’s job was to read the newspapers to this group of men most afternoons by Sideline Bridge of Port Mourant. The men could understand English but could not read or speak it themselves. Mr. Debah told me his job was just to read to the men. He was not allowed to have a conversation with them or to ask them questions about anything especially anything related to India.
All that Mr. Debah knows is that the six friends came to BG in 1912. He does not know which ship they came on. That year three ships from Calcutta brought indentured laborers to British Guiana: SS Sutlej, SS Chenab, and SS Indus. My own grand-father came that year on the SS Sutlej. Mr. Debah’s father served out his indentureship by 1917. He passed away on June 10, 1951. Mr. Debah was still in high school at the time.
Mr. Debah also sent me a pic of his mom selling rice in the Port Mourant market. This market only set one day each week on Saturdays and was the largest market on the Corentyne, attracting people from all the villages. The pic was taken in the late 1940’s. She passed away on July 26, 1968.