Berbician artist walks 116 miles for peace
Planning relay run from Corriverton to Charity
By Daniel Da Costa
November 13, 2002
The age-old adage “whatever the mind can conceive, the man/woman can achieve” was aptly demonstrated recently by one of the best-known artists to come out of Berbice, Winston Strick, M.S.
Born at Lot 53 Stanleytown, New Amsterdam, sixty years ago, Strick completed a gruelling 116-mile solo walk for peace two weeks ago from Georgetown to Corriverton.
The journey, according to Strick, who has been a practising Muslim for the past ten years, was “a walk for Allah, Guyana and me and was intended to focus attention on the present situation in the country.”
At 5 am on the morning of Thursday, October 31, Strick began his pilgrimage to the east, which was in the works for more than one month, from his home at Sophia. A solo walk of this magnitude is no simple task but the national awardee has been keeping his body in top shape over the years with daily exercises including jogging for miles. This prepared him for what he described as “a physical goal” and a walk which he had previously undertaken back in 1967 with the late Tyrone Swammi.
By 11 pm he had reached Rosignol Stelling. During his walk he stopped at several Police Stations along the East Coast of Demerara and West Coast of Berbice but received what he described as “a hostile reception” at Weldaad Police Station which he attributed to the lack of publicity about his journey.
“Unfortunately people including the police were unaware of my walk and this created a lot of suspicions along the way,” he told Stabroek News after he had completed the first leg.
“All along the East Coast and West Berbice I had to explain to people what I was doing. At Weldaad the police accused me of ‘getting away from something’ and initially did not accept my explanation for undertaking such a journey.”
However, apart from this, people along the way were very supportive. Some even offered him light refreshments as he stopped briefly for a quick chat about himself and his walk. “A young man at Mahaica was eating a papaw and offered me a piece, suggesting that I sit and relax with him, but I had to refuse,” he recalled.
When he woke up on Friday morning, November 1, at the place of his birth, Lot 53 Stanleytown, New Amsterdam, Strick said he felt like a new person. “It was like when I arrived in the United States for the first time in 1969. It was more a stimulant than a depressant”.
After spending four days and nights in New Amsterdam resting, recuperating and planning for the second leg of his solo journey, at 4 am on Wednesday, November 6 the artist left Stanleytown for Corriverton some 47 miles away, receiving a rowdy send-off from several barking dogs in the neighbourhood.
By dawn he had reached the long and lonely East Berbice highway, commonly called No. 19 long road. By 9:15 am he had passed Port Mourant. Earlier, he had met Rose Hall’s Mayor William Hendrax who extended his best wishes. “Throughout the second leg of my journey people were very encouraging, helpful and friendly.
One shopkeeper gave me a free bottle of Coke when I stopped at his shop to purchase one. A truck driver stopped his truck and came over to give me a big hug and offer his best wishes. Along the way people of all races came out of their homes to wave and encourage me… it was indeed very touching and gave me the courage to continue walking,” Strick said. He also stopped at several Police Stations along the coast and was well received. He attributed this reception to a television interview the previous evening which was broadcast across the region.
At 6:30 pm Strick had arrived at the Springlands Police Station, tired but in one piece, accomplishing a goal which many much younger could only dream of. During the 14-hour, tiresome journey, Strick did not consume any heavy food but instead used a lot of liquids. “I ate heavily the night before and during the walk I did not have an appetite.” After spending some two hours at Corriverton, Strick returned to New Amsterdam by bus.
Asked how he felt after the walk, Strick said “my legs were elastic, I could not sleep that night (Wednesday) and was restless until next morning. During my restlessness, however, thoughts of another exercise came into being… that of a relay run from Corriverton to Charity on the Essequibo Coast.”
Having completed this Herculean journey, Strick who began painting at the age of 12 years is hopeful that “it will help to focus on our present situation and a desire to make a change. Some unfortunately saw the walk as a demonstration and as anti-administration but this was totally irrelevant. The walk was a walk for peace in Guyana and had nothing to do with politics. I feel a sense of gratification and achievement and rejuvenated.” According to the former teacher, “I had a good feel of the attitudes of people along the coast and to experience the happiness, some of the positive responses and the hospitality was a joy.”
He described the walk as a challenge “to see if I could do the same thing after 34 years. I am hoping that we can soon organise the relay run to spread the joy and happiness of the east to the rest of Guyana, to interact and to share common goals and aspirations. There is so much crime, violence, hate, tensions and negative headlines that I thought this walk will be something of a difference and maybe will result in a positive change. We are looking for a change we can live with or die for,” a tired-looking Strick told Stabroek News after his 14-hour peace trek to Guyana’s eastern-most border township.