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I drove past the Conversation Tree a few days ago and noticed someone putting a fence around a newly planted tree.
The Conversation Tree (for all the [one] people who visit my blog who aren’t Guyanese) is a historic landmark on the east coast of Demerara. The tree is to be found at the intersection of the Rupert Craig Highway and the road to which it has given its name (Conversation Tree Road). It was reputedly first planted by Napleton William King in 1876 to celebrate the birth of his son Napleton Walter.
My father named his blog after it.
I took a photo of it years ago, just before the photographed tree finally gave up the ghost. It is a nice picture, counted as one of my best for a long time and it is one of the images that made me think I could be a good photographer (ironically, I did a fair bit of editing on it to produce the final image, but at least I had the raw materials).
I owe that picture (or at least the subject) to Boyo Ramsaroop, who passed away recently. The tree in this picture was probably planted many years ago by Mr. Ramsaroop, and is the tree I’ve known my entire life as “the” Conversation Tree. My recollection is that Mr. Ramsaroop told me he had planted this tree to replace the previous tree (possibly the first) that my father knew during his youth. My recollection may be mistaken, but in any event I do know that he planted the tree that replaced the one in this picture, which was destroyed in an accident shortly before his death.
Boyo Ramsaroop was a well known political and social activist. He was a noted horticulturalist. Among his many other accomplishments he bore the betterment of his country firmly in his heart. Of all the things I could have chosen, I chose his planting of a flambouyant tree on which to comment.
It may well have been the least of his accomplishments, but it is significant to me because he did it from the purest of motives. Not for profit, not for fame (I doubt very many people even knew he had anything to do with it) but perhaps simply because it brought a bit of beauty to an otherwise dreary corner.
I believe that there are still people who do these things in Guyana, though in the past there were probably more. People who uplift their surroundings simply out of a desire to live in a nicer environment, or out of a bit of civic pride. It is not something that is seen much anymore.
A new tree has been planted and fenced. Done, no doubt in his father’s honour and memory, but very likely also in the same spirit as his father, by Gerhard Ramsaroop. These days in Guyana, if you do anything ostensibly in service of your country or community it may well necessitate press conferences, billboards and newspaper reports.
Either I missed the press conference, or Boyo taught his son better. I am inclined to the latter view.
When all the people like Boyo Ramsaroop leave or die, this country won’t be worth living in anymore. By then there will probably be too many self-congratulatory billboards “beautifying” the country for any of us to fit anyway.