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savings book was one day found in the street and brought to him. It contained a credit for nearly £700. He traced the man's name and took the book to him. He was a man of about forty, dressed in rags and living with his family in a squalid hovel.
During the rest of the afternoon we visited the estate hospital and the schools run on the estate by the Church, with Government grants. We listened to a class of eight-year-olds reading aloud in their charming sing-song. On the walls were handpainted posters saying 'Reading makes a full man', 'Love brightens labour', or 'Learning is better than silver and gold'. I looked at the bright, eager faces of the children and commented on their healthy appearance; my companion said, ‘If you'd been in this same school a little more than ten years ago you'd have been horrified. They'd have been a collection of little runts with sunken faces and dull eyes. It's the one hope for B.G., perhaps, a new, healthy generation that's prepared to work hard and get something done without yelping all the time for Government to do it.' What had caused the great change, I asked. 'Malaria,' he replied simply, 'malaria.'
The conquering of malaria in British Guiana has been the work of the great malariologist, Dr. G. Giglioli, an Italian who has spent much of his life in the Colony. After the discovery that the anopheles mosquito could be divided into six species, each with different habits, he established that the coastal malaria was transmitted by anopheles darlingi, the worst carrier of the disease and the species with the most marked preference for human blood-some of the other species preferred animal blood. A. darlingi breeds in fresh water and is a native of the forests of the Interior who came to the saline coastlands only when man had interfered sufficiently with the nature of the district for him to breed. The irrigation canals, rice fields and flood fallows were ideal for him and in wet weather he bred in the house-drains and the pools formed on the house lots. All villages near the cane fields were extremely malarial, while those nearest the sea, in open, windswept country subject to flooding from the sea only mildly malarial. But where the villagers of less-malarial areas planted fruit trees or bananas, the A. darlingi followed and malaria increased. In 1943 the birth-rate per 1,000 was 33.5 and the death-rate 24-7, while the infant mortality and maternal mortality (per 1,000)
were respectively 141.0 and 14.0. In 1955 the birth-rate was 43.3 and the death-rate 11.9; infant mortality was reduced to 70.3 and maternal mortality to 4·0.
Dr. Giglioli realized that the breeding surfaces in the drained and irrigated zones were so vast that any attempt to destroy the mosquito at its larval stage would be impossible. His study of the life-cycle of A. darlingi gave him the time of the year when the insect could be destroyed in the houses where it would come in search of human blood, and malaria was conquered exclusively by the spraying of the inside of houses. By 1948 Dr. Giglioli was able to say that A. darlingi had been 'banished, eradicated from the inhabited coastlands.' It can be said, too, that malaria has been eradicated. In 1954 there were thirty-one notifications of the disease and no deaths. The economic effects of this revolution in the health of the Guianese have yet to be felt in full force, but the conquest has relieved the estates of a financial burden of more than £62,500 a year. In the hospital I visited the doctor told me that before the conquest malaria accounted for about 55,000 hospital man-days a year.
Even the casual visitor to British Guiana must notice the most obvious effect of the eradication of malaria. The place swarms with children, all the result of increased fertility and lower infantile mortality. Populations increase at a compound rate and by 1970 that of British Guiana will have doubled. An inhabited strip of land which at the moment can barely support half a million people will be occupied by a million. In a few years the children born since the control of malaria will have left school. Will there be jobs for them, work on the sugar estates or land for them to cultivate as peasant farmers? Will the secondary industries growing up in and around Georgetown-the factories for matches and cigarettes, soap and toilet lotion and knitwear, the shipyards, the brewery and the distilleries, the printing works and the bottling plants-absorb a significant fraction of them? Will they move into the unoccupied areas of the Interior and cultivate the riverain lands? Or will they, desperate for Lebensraum, drift aimlessly from the Colony, seeking a living in England or, perhaps, in Mother India? These questions lie at the centre of the problem of British Guiana; a problem sufficiently complex and baffling in
1956 will have become, by 1970, beyond human control-unless the Guianese and the British Government together recognize that time is short and combine amicably and with enthusiasm to enlarge the living-space of the Colony. This may mean large-scale movements of people in land resettlement schemes; it will certainly mean that the Africans will have to overcome their reluctance to work on the land. British Guiana can never be a land of plenty, but if a subsistence agriculture can be created for the million of 1970-and the two millions of 1990-suffering on a large scale will have been averted. The Guianese need, above all, a leader to arise among themselves who will recognize these vital problems and will be prepared to face them without the intervention of obsessive racialism and hatred for imperialist Britain, a man who will offer his followers blood, toil, sweat and tears—and the hope of eventual victory.
5. KING SUGAR OR SUGAR DADDY?
IN the last chapter I attempted to give an indication of life
on a sugar estate and the difficulties of sugar economics in British Guiana. If the sugar estates were to close down the Colony would be doomed; when the world prices of sugar slump the Colony suffers accordingly and in a far more general way than in those countries which have not concentrated on sugar. Clearly British Guiana would have been a happier place if the nature of the country had allowed a balanced agriculture. One may lament that this was not achieved, but it would be unrealistic to blame the old planters for not foreseeing a time when economic distress in the Colony might have been avoided by a diversification of crops.
The firm responsible for 80 per cent of the Colony's sugar output and which receives 100 per cent of the attacks on sugar interests-is Booker Bros., McConnell & Co. Ltd., who have some thirty subsidiary companies in British Guiana, including an export and merchandising business and a general store. Their name and interests are so ubiquitous that it is said that a local man who had bought an outboard engine at Bookers' Store was not surprised, on starting the engine, to hear it say 'booker-booker-booker'. The firm was founded by a Liverpool merchant adventurer, Josias Booker, who went to British Guiana in 1815 and became a plantation manager. After two of his kinsmen had joined him, they bought the plantations which Josias had managed. When, after the abolition of slavery, plantations came on the market at very low prices Booker Bros. bought them up. It is a practice which the firm has continued down to the present day. In 1955 there was an arrangement for 'closer association' between Bookers and one of the last private plantation owners, Messrs. Davson's.
Today the Chairman of this company which has so formidable a control over the destiny of the Colony is Mr. J. M. Campbell. In 1954 he gave a lecture at Cambridge called 'British Capital in the Changing Conditions of the Colonies', a lecture of great importance in appraising Bookers' aims and those of
the more progressive colonial capitalists. Mr. Campbell says that Bookers' growth in British Guiana was greater than intended and that, considering the hazards of the Colony, 'nobody in their senses could have designed to involve themselves in British Guiana to the extent that Bookers' has done.' With remarkable frankness he goes on to say that until the last war the Sugar industry of the Colony was, in the face of these hazards and the low prices paid for colonial produce, 'only able to exist at the expense of the wages of labour and of their amenities; and at the expense of productive assets.' During the war higher prices changed the situation and now the industry is modestly guaranteed by the 'reasonable remuneration' of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. With the extra profits, he says, £5,000,000 has been ploughed back into estate improvements, and the staff and labour conditions have been improved in a manner 'compatible with physical and economic possibilities'. He laments the fact that no peasant farming class could grow up because only well-organized and capitalized landowners could drain and irrigate the land. ‘A further bedevilling factor', he says, 'is that the Africans and Indians... both tend to live and to labour under a sense of grievance. Latent for the most part because they are a good-humoured, peaceful, friendly, co-operative people at heart, but a sense of grievance which can all too easily be played upon and exploited by unscrupulous politicians; a sense of grievance which must be eradicated before the peoples of British Guiana can reach selfhood.' The grievance, he believes, comes from the memory of slavery on the part of the Africans, and, with the Indians, from the fact that they have borne most of the distress during the long periods when Britain would only pay starvation prices for colonial products. He sees that the danger in British Guiana is the fact that the majority of the population are members of a working class, who see themselves 'in clear and unfavourable distinction against the representatives of Government and Industry and who cannot see or imagine anyone worse off than themselves' and therefore demand economic changes without looking deep into the possible effects. They think in terms of a magic wand which can be waved and all will be well, so that the small material improvement which the new stability of