By Lakhram Bhagirat
Winston Christiani is an institution when it comes to the history of his birth village – Queenstown. He is one of the go-to elders in the village who would never hesitate to share his experiences along with the knowledge to anyone who is interested.
The 77-year-old has lived in several parts of Guyana and according to him, Queenstown will forever remain home so when he retired from his public service job that took him across the country, it was only right that he returned to his village.
Christiani was born in Queenstown on the Essequibo Coast and had somewhat of an unfortunate beginning. His twin died at childbirth and because of financial constraints, he was “given away” to another woman in the village for her to raise.
“I was born a twin and because of circumstances my brother died at birth and the history of my mother was that there were many other siblings and I was given
Mrs Farnum began raising Christiani and he remembered her as being an active member of the Seventh Day Baptist Church so he was introduced to religion at an early age. However, when he was just about six years old, Mrs Farnum died and he moved back home.
His mother, Roselyn Carlton, and father, David Christiani, took him back with them and his siblings.
“She was an active member of the Seventh Day Baptist Church so I grew up with that culture being with her in that church, where, at least we used to be doing a lot of singing and praying, or wherever. That lady died and as a consequence of that, I returned to my two parents.”
His father was a devout Anglican so he made sure that all nine of his children were christened and confirmed in the Anglican Church – particularly St Bartholomew’s Parish.
“In 1950 I was christened and confirmed in the Anglican Church and since then I have been serving in the Anglican Church in different capacities. I was on the Vestry and so on,” he related.
“I attended the St Bartholomew’s Anglican School. I went to St Bartholomew’s school up to the pupil teachers appointment class. Back then you had the school leaving and then you had the pupil teachers appointment class. I taught for a short while and subsequently joined the Public Works as a Clerk. I worked throughout my career at the Public Works and was at plenty places because of work,” Christiani added.
Throughout his career, Christiani served as an accountant on the Tapakuma Irrigation Project back in 1978. He was later in charge of the Ministry’s hydraulics, Essequibo Islands district and then moved to Bartica to act as a finance officer. He served in similar roles in Anna Regina and in Georgetown as well.
“When regionalism came, I went to regional Ministry in Georgetown and I continued. I returned to the Essequibo Coast to be in charge of the finance division of the sub-treasury at Anna Regina…Subsequently, I was transferred to Region Seven in Bartica to be in charge of the finance division. Having function there I was asked to function as the Assistant Accountant General in Georgetown for short while before my retirement. Subsequently, I returned to Bartica, where I retired as Acting Assistant Accountant General,” the elderly man recounted.
When asked about what it was like growing up in Queenstown, Christiani said that those were the days when everyone looked out for everyone.
“We had the village movements where you had our local people who are elected by the people, to rule the village as Councillors and Chairman. Persons were elected by the community of itself, based on your performance and how much you were willing to perform in the interests of the community. I would safely say that, growing up as a youngster, I knew that I had a very hard time, in the sense to say that the financial status of my parents was very low.”
The father of five said that he will continue contributing to the development of Queenstown for as long as he is able to.