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Au revoir Guyana

Martin Gough | 13:22 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - All hell broke loose a fortnight ago, when my blog on arrival in Guyana was picked up and picked apart on the front page of a national newspaper.

“Mr Gough makes the description of Guyana that even a half-wit mental asylum patient in the UK would do better at,” claimed the Kaieteur News of 27 March.

One of the newspaper’s columnists – who I refuse to give further fame by naming – took another step the following day.

He said of my parents, who by now were a little worried anyway: "If [they] are alive, then one hopes that they acknowledge that he is an embarrassment to the human race.

“The serpents and gorillas that live in Mr Gough's mind compelled him to descend to a level of pitiful, sickening and Hitleristic journalism about Guyana."

What exactly had I said that caused so much outrage? It took me a few days to work it out, and another few to really appreciate.

Kaieteur News cartoonFirstly, I highlighted the poverty I saw on the drive from the airport and led into the observation many people would be unable to afford tickets for World Cup games nearby. I made an unflattering comparison between Georgetown’s ageing sea front and that of Skegness. I’m not sure if any publications in Lincolnshire have followed suit in publishing cartoons featuring my unflattering likeness.

I described the town as having a “South American feel”, by which I meant its wide, laid-back streets, although that seems to have been taken as a further barb in a country proud of its Caribbean-ness.

I was less than complimentary about the readiness of the brand new national stadium, although we were told as we flew to Guyana that other venues had been placed on standby just in case.

Oh yes! I mentioned the rain, which poured incessantly during the first 48 hours of my stay.

And I made a particularly poor joke about a colleague fearing a bogus taxi driver was kidnapping him. Prime Minister Samuel Hinds was worried about that when another colleague spoke to him the following day.

I failed to appreciate the amount of national pride that had been invested in building a new stadium, the preparations to host the expected hordes of media and fans and what the entire event means to the development of the country.

I did not write with a superior sneer, but it was clearly read in that way, which is why I apologised the following day.

I feel some critics failed to understand the concept of a blog, which is all about impressions and discovery.

Had I waited a week to record them, I would not have done justice to those first impressions. Had I done more than the amount of research the average traveller would do, my impressions would not have been those of the average traveller.

Of course, the fears over the stadium proved unfounded and the weather improved, save for a single day of constant downpour.

Over 16 nights in Guyana I had time to explore Georgetown, discovering some very good bars and restaurants along the way, and to visit the national landmark, the Kaieteur Falls, with the flight over rainforest as awe-inspiring as the final destination.

Meanwhile, the columnists kept sniping, but with decreasing ferocity. By last Sunday I was no longer front-page news but “that pesky BBC reporter” on page 31. People said they had seen the issue discussed on TV talk shows, although on both occasions I missed the chance to set the video.

Two Guyanese journalists approached me about the issue, neither of them from the Kaieteur News, leaving me with the impression that newspaper was guilty of the same ill-informed, knee-jerk journalism it had accused me of.

Lots of English journalists approached me, most for a good laugh at my expense!

Although several had tales of being mis-identified as me by people on the street, I only spoke to two people who mentioned the blog. One took some convincing of my intentions; the other was very friendly.

Thanks for your comments – good and bad – on the blog over the last two weeks. It is especially good to see so many Guyanese people who have overcome their initial annoyance to read on. I am sure I will be back in Guyana again, although I wouldn’t repeat the last fortnight for anyone.

I arrived here in Barbados without my luggage on Tuesday, so I think I’ll leave the first impressions for a couple of days!

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:56 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • David Geddens wrote:

I've found the constant self-justification worse than the initial comments. It's meant to be a blog about cricket, not about a journalist (shockingly) making ill-informed comments and then whinging about people whinging about them.

Norman Mailer didn't get away with including himself as a character in his sports journalism, so it's doubtful that you would get away with it.

  • 2.
  • At 02:58 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • BEN wrote:

This track might just suit mahmood, oh, who am i kidding, not even a pitch reminicent of a coral reef would suit mahmood, now please mahmood rub my face in it and take all ten tiger wickets!!

  • 3.
  • At 03:03 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Lord Sherpa wrote:

The Kaietur News is a perceptive newspaper.

  • 4.
  • At 03:50 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Clive Woody wrote:

They're a sensitive bunch those Guyanans. I thought folk in the Caribbean were known for having a sense of humour. At least they have set the record straight with their petty reaction to your blog.

Chin up old fellow, imagine how Prince Phillip feels with all the foreign folk he has upset.

  • 5.
  • At 04:16 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Mohamed (Breado) wrote:

Hi Marty,

You take these things too seriously Marty. You see, Guyana is still fairly new at this freedom of the press thing. It was only in 1992 that we came out of 3 decades of looong depression, state controlled media and dictatorial rule. Furthermore, prior to that we were under British rule. So all this is new to us.

For heavens sake, we have a TV station owner/presenter whose claim to fame was being a refridgerator repairman. This same man is also a perennial Presidential candidate. You should try being in the President's shoes and read and hear some of the things they say about him. One day he is Idi Amin and and next thing you know these same fellas are partying with el Presidente.

You see, Guyana is so small in the grand scheme of things and places of interest, that we have to blow things way out of proportion to make ourselves and country get noticed. This we have learned from American TV.

These fellas over at Kaieteur News are starving for attention and you provided fodder for them. Let me remind you again of an old Guyanese saying; "when goat shit want roll, he does wait fuh breeze blow." Let me explain to the non Guyanese readers what this means. Goat poop is light and rolls in the slightest of wind and these folks at KN were licking their chops just waiting for the slightest hint of something amiss to jump on, especially with the CWC. You fell into their trap. If you read their paper during your stay, you would have also noticed how much negative they were on the President and the stadium. They wanted CWC to fail in Guyana, because it means that the Government who they oppse, aso fails. Anyway, nuff said about that.

Marty, I sincerely hope that you enjoyed your stay in Guyana and I do hope that you come back.. luggage and all. By the way, luggage gets lost everywhere. British Airways lost mine on my way to Dulles airport, VA several years ago. This problem is also way too common in travel within the Islands in the Caribbean.

In closing, let me say to you Marty, that I am sure you made more friends in Guyana that you probably know and we reall hope to see you again soon. Like I said before - we'll leave the lights on for you.


  • 6.
  • At 04:20 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • LordSherpa wrote:

You got what you deserved. What is the point of this article? Do you want people to feel sorry for you?

  • 7.
  • At 04:30 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • RAY CHAN-A-SUE wrote:

Martin, well done. You should know by now, the only people who are allowed to critised West Indians are West Indians. We are our own worst enemy sometimes. As for your baggage, you have now gotten the true West Indian experience that Caribbean people face everyday

  • 8.
  • At 04:49 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Guyaneseinlondon wrote:

Firstly Clive whoever you are it not guyanans it's guyanese and poeple took offence becuase so much hard work went into the preperations and rather than giving a poor country praises for it's efforts we were blasted by people who didn't take the time to appreciate what Guyana is all about.

Glad you eventually enjoyed guyana but next time you visit and the rain is falling try playing softball cricket in the wet it's the most beautiful thing you could do especailly when running and sliding into the crease.

Thank you

  • 9.
  • At 05:26 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • David wrote:


The majority of the reaction to your initial blog was more out of concern that visitors thinking of coming to Guyana would change their travel plans. News and rumors do travel fast. It has been a hard slog for Guyana in recent years and a lot was invested in the CWC. Some of the reaction was also unwarranted and hopefully you realize that it came from a small minority.

Full credit to you for making the effort to learn more about Guyana. As you pointed out, if one takes the time and effort in Guyana he or she will truly be rewarded.

In Guyana it is never au revoir. We prefer "a bientot" (see you soon). Do come again, and bring some new travelling companions.

The standard of journalism in the Kaiteur News can be displayed in an election special featuring the massive headline 'Hinds accused of child molestation'. This Hinds character was some guy in a small town and the story had nothing to do with Sam Hinds, the Prime Minister seeking re-election - one of the worst examples of sensationalist journalism I have ever seen!

  • 11.
  • At 05:57 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Karim wrote:

Marty - Breado said it worries from this Guyanese on your initial observations... I believe you spent enough time to understand or at least appreciate the reaction and everything else...I enjoyed watching the games played in Guyana on TV from overseas.. I used it as good discussion fodder to help folks learn a bit about Guyana... for all it's woes, it is still where the heart is.

  • 12.
  • At 06:49 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Roachie wrote:

In response to Clive Woody, if we do have to be subjected to your narrow- minded, bigoted comments, I feel an education lesson is in order. People who are born and bred in Guyana are referred and known as GUYANESE, (not "Guyanans"???) - As for a sense of humour, heres hoping you see the funny side when England return home (yet again!!) without a World Cup trophy!!

  • 13.
  • At 07:14 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • ChalkNCheese wrote:

As one of those foreigners who has recently been to Guyana, I feel where Martin was coming from. It was a big shock to me arriving in Georgetown for the first time. First impressions are that it was a city and country unlike any place I had ever been. Taking time to realize that this was where you were coming from (after all it was only first, not LAST impresions) The new-ness and different-ness of it all can initially feel overwhelming, but then you start to see the real Guyana...the people are beyond amazing, and although I didn't have time to go to the interior I am longing to return to discover the rest of the country - there is a certain je-ne-sais-quoi in the country that has made it one of the most fascinating places I have ever been. Martin, congratulations for handling the criticism in a dignified manner, although I have to say I am jealous that you get to cover the matches. Lucky fir me however, it did not rain for more than 1/2 hour on only one of the days I was there. Alas I was there for work that took me back to Canada before CWC started. Good luck and I look forward to reading on your stay in Barbados - in fact you seem to be re-tracing my steps...I went Guyana to Barbados in February (and my luggage arrived with me!).

  • 14.
  • At 07:38 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • West Indian Patriot wrote:

Gough is typical Englandman, he say he na mean nothin bad... just the natives interpret he as bad and are now wiggin it . Stink of colonialism don't it? Don't he know we spent alot o time tyding up our islands for the world cup, catching alot o criminals to keep it safer, and that we are sensitive on that issue?

Its like the Englanders saying:- "We na meant to kill or destabilize the natives, and we na meant to cause future ethnic problems by practising comunal favorasion... we just wanted to divide-n-conquer them to keep them divided and non-threatening to bleed they lands dry. And we is not responsible for all the conflicts happening in the former Brutish Empire."


I'm sure you'll enjoy the blue waters and sandy beaches In Barbados Mr. Gough. Maybe the next time you come to Guyana it wont be job-related. Adventure tourism is more our thing, though the powers that be don't seem to recognise that.

  • 16.
  • At 08:28 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Skeggy patriot wrote:

I don't know what the problem is. Skegness is a beautiful place. If the Guyanans don't like their island being compared to Skeggy then their the ones who have the attitude problem.

Its like Guyanans saying: "We na want to go to Skeggy, and we na meant to cause future Guyana/ Skeggy problems by thinking Guyana is much betta than Skeggy. We na never been to Skeggy yet we still think it is crap."

  • 17.
  • At 08:36 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • emma wrote:

I thought your blog was fantastic! Guyanese journalists opinions are not worth loosing sleep over!

  • 18.
  • At 08:41 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Lloyda Nicholas wrote:

You think that becuase your comments were made in a blog that you had less of a responsibility to check your facts and be balanced. surely you have not forgotten that the reach of the internet is far beyond any other media of yore? At the end of the day you are a journalist and have a higher responsibilty

Further Mr. Gough do you think that it was ok for you to speak disparagingly about a people, a country that you did not have the time to know?

I for one did not agree with the front page article because as far as I am concerned it brought too much attention to your foolish ramblings. But I understand where that response came from.

Sensitive we might be called but when you live in and love a third world country that was trampled on by colonial masters, when one of their offspring opens his mouth or puts pen to paper, his words better be fair. Yours were not.

However, i have to admire your attempt to make it better, however lame it is. I am willing to forgive you as I come from a hospitable people and I would love to show you all that Guyana has to offer.

And further we are not that proud of our Caribbeaness as it was foisted on us since we have more in common with the English speaking Caribbean in terms of a common 'master'. Our mix of peoples is what has shaped us.

We love who we are and love who we are going to become as our nation continues to grow...

Ps did u know that despite the fact that we are so 'poor' we managed to have some of the best crowds at the that stadium, lovely isn't it.

  • 19.
  • At 08:56 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Hansen wrote:


You need to learn to write standard English. But very good point mate.

  • 20.
  • At 09:00 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Chintaka wrote:

Well, Mr Gough was probably exaggerating things to make his journal interesting. But come on, it's just a journal. No need to kick such a big fuss about it. There are better things to talk about in this world cup. Otherwise it just makes Mr.Gough look like a really baddie, and the Guanians look like over-sensitive insecure people. Which I'm sure none of the two are.

  • 21.
  • At 09:49 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Chintaka wrote:

Well, Mr Gough was probably exaggerating things to make his journal interesting. But come on, it's just a journal. No need to kick such a big fuss about it. There are better things to talk about in this world cup. Otherwise it just makes Mr.Gough look like a really baddie, and the Guanians look like over-sensitive insecure people. Which I'm sure none of the two are.

  • 22.
  • At 09:51 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Spuds McKenzie wrote: you still put coins in a meter to get hot water in London??


  • 23.
  • At 10:11 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • West Indian Patriot wrote:


Me na mention or speak bad bout SKEGNES. Me sure it is good place with decent folk. No need to mock me accent. That is low blow man. Your journalist and you the same - kings of mockery.


My English is standerd - atleest here it is. This is English they teach at missionery school man.


Our countree is dead poor. Yes we are insecure. Guyana is poorest country in Western Demisphere. Did you know this? Only reason why I have access to internet because I work as hotel guest relation frontdesk. British tourists is one of our main income. We try make it attractive to all tourists. When Mr. Gough paint one-angled picture of our country, it make us look bad.

  • 24.
  • At 10:23 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Patch wrote:

Oh Martin....never you mind. Caribbean people are thin-skinned...notoriously so. As someone said earlier, only we are allowed to criticise ourselves. And don't think that it means that I, as a Jamaican, could DARE to go to Guyana and make a negative comment. I would be blasted back to Jamaica with stories about our own murder rate, our own somewhat decrepit urban areas, and general economic stagnation. So you, coming from England, walked straight into a hoo-hah of your own making, thought you would be forgiven for not knowing this. After all, a rational person would be forgiven for thinking that writing honest observations of what he saw and his thoughts on what he saw would not be offensive. But we are passion precedes reason...haven't you seen how we play cricket?

  • 25.
  • At 11:25 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • urmilla wrote:

I am Guyanaese living in Canada and I can quite understand what you went through with that blog. Just read it and had a good laugh at your expense knowing the backlash that must have happened. Guyanese pride is very powerful.

It is a pity Kaietuer News does not live up to the majesty and prestige of its namesake.

  • 26.
  • At 11:54 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • WI FAN wrote:

HAHA Yep, BAjans Will be keeping an eye on your blogs ENjoy the Games man

I can't believe people are still attacking you on this and complaining that a blog is no different from press.

A blog is a web log, an online journal where someone posts their opinions and thoughts.

And as long as they are not slanderous or libelous then it doesn't matter.

You wrote your first impressions, that is the purpose of the blog, to write about your impressions and experiences in the countries that are hosting the CWC. Not spout the same line as main line press, tourist boards or the CWC themselves.
And in that I believe you are succeeding, great job keep up the great work. (luggage or no luggage)

  • 28.
  • At 01:08 AM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • lloyd wrote:

I would advise Mr. Gough not to take Kaietuer seriously, it is a rediculous excuse for a newspaper and he should leave it at that. Guyanese have to accept the reality which came out in Mr. Gough´s piece, and quite truly not many guyanese were able to attend the matches. Mr. Gough, let professionalism take this one.... I am Guyanese, and quite proud to be one, but I am not one to deny the truth.
I do hope that you were able to appreciate the warmness of the guyanese people and the beauty of our country.

The World Cup came and it´s gone from our shores, lets see what happens now....
cheerios LB

I live in Guyana, and I read the articles that were in response of the one you wrote. I hadn't seen your article prior, but it was easy for one to assume that your opinion of Guyana was similar to that of used toilet paper.

I recently read your article and couldn't believe that it was the cause of all the fuss. I understand the poverty, anyone who comes from a well developed country would not see Guyana the same way as those who live here.

We are a poor country but we also have some of the kindest people in the world. Many Guyanese would invite foreigners into their homes to share a meal and a drink simply because Guyanese are a hospitable people.

As the saying goes, "you can't always judge a book by it cover" but, I just don't see why people are so angry.

greetings from Georgetown, Guyana


I write for the Guyana Chronicle, no, not for the sport pages, but I'm covering CWC.

I love this entry, really brilliant. Almost sounds like you were sucking up. I'm glad you appreciated the investment of national pride in building the stadium.

Just so you'd know, I saw no problem with your "arrival" entry, and I found it hillarious that Kaieteur News made you (in)famous!

Happy blogging!

  • 31.
  • At 04:12 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • leeron wrote:

I've been following this 'blogging business' from the time it hit my inbox...quite frankly i see no problem with it...everyone has a point but then again it all comes down to ur intellect...and ur deductive reasoning...i covered world cup...i came across Martin, didn't say any thing to him except hi, hope u're enjoying the country and he replied in the positive...good enough for me...if a man wants to make a comment...fair enough he has the freedom...but for us to jump down his throat...come on thatz plain guyana therez a blog spot or something like that which i think is far more insultive and plain gets personal to disgusting...but then again thatz the nature...i've been criticised on it a few fact i even laugh at the comments made...the blog has itz positives and negatives like all other things in life...for me i see it as a positive to 'get up, shake it the hell off and strive to do better next time'...afterall it worked for me...i stopped reading news with a jersey and coat...oh yea and meh chain...thanx to whoever wrote that...n e wayz i'm rambling on...bottom line happened...everyone has their own interpretation...letz stay away from the petty name calling and crap that jus says we're idle...continue writing Martin...the blog is an international thing we in guyana are not aware of luck in the press conferences and match writing...we'll meet again. ps...i'm now an avid reader of ur articles which i find entertaining...and telford vice too...had a chat wit him...good fella

  • 32.
  • At 06:10 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Michelle wrote:

I am a Guyanese and a proud one. I just have one thing to say to you and that is you are a foolish man and deserved to be fired

Your homeland is the cause of more of our problems anywhere so start there.

no love for a foolish man

  • 33.
  • At 07:57 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

'Your homeland is the cause of more of our problems anywhere so start there.'

No, stop blaming a country that has not influenced your nations for decades, I would suggest that your problems are your own. Stop looking to blame someone else and sort your island out. I have had enough of Britain being blamed here there and everywhere, some nations need to grow up and start realising their current problems have a lot to do with the way their own people run them!

Hey Martin, don't worry about the idiots, some people would like to believe that they can tell real jouranalist what to write. You did not lie when you stated that the place looked like a mess, you simply wrote what you saw. Maybe now we can get our so called leaders to understand that they need to improve Guyana in order to impress foreigners and folks here as well. I have been telling them the same thing for the last few decades.

Hi again,

Firstly, I'd like to aplogize on behalf of the idiots in my country to don't understand the meaning of an opinon.

My jaws practically hit the floor when I read the part about your family, that's really taking it too far. I read your blog and I saw nothing that could have caused such outrage.

Everything you said about Guyana is true but in my opinon you should have made the kidnapping joke because of all the negatives you pointed out, that just sort of creamed it and would have serious effects on our already crippled tourism.

Of course Guyanese don't know about the purpose of a blog. Which writer in Guyana you see have one? Guyana suffer from serious cultural lag as you would have noticed from the airport right down to the supposedly 'Garden City' Georgetown. I don't mean to put down my country but fact is fact and I speak it like it is. Your point that the stadium wasn't ready was saying it nicely in my opinion. They should have thanked you for not elaborating on the parking lot that people 'suppose' to park in.

Guyana isn't made up of all idiots because alot of people talked about Guyana not being ready and worse, the stadium. Their problem is that a local can talk all they want, no one will listen but some such as yourself voice a comment, it's an outrage.

Guyana is a beautiful country, better than most Caribbean country who're all doing better than us, so if that's the case, what's the problem with our country? Well I'm no analyst so I won't bother to give the answer but I'm sure it's quite obvious.

Lastly, Kaieteur Newspaper like I said is an embarrasment to writing and good journalism and from a design standpoint, it's not even amateur. The newspaper report bogus news and consistently place ridiculous photography (when available) on their front page. The fact that you were front page news should tell you they have nothing to report and took your article way to personal and responded unprofessionally.

In closing, I really do think you're making a mistake by constantly trying to justify yourself and hang in the middle. You said what you said, just stand by it and move on.

  • 36.
  • At 03:22 PM on 16 Apr 2007,
  • A.Hamilton wrote:

Hey Martin,

Let me just say after reading your blog the picture painted in my head is not what i know Guyana to be. I know we have poor houses & other problems which is universal.

Unlike many countries Guyana does not promote tourism at the expense of its people, I can tell you some parts of those so called tourism countires are off limits to the locals, its like a country within a country.Guyanese are free to go where they please.Make sure to visit the back streets of those Paradise Islands.

I think why most persons were mad at you is simply because your blog was mainly negative, whereas alot of positive exist, and it was not mentioned. Its like you were only interested in the bad, any citizen from any country would have wanted to make it known that amid our negatives alot of positives exist.

Many of those who are saying that persons are offended by the truth is just trying to fulfill their political agendas. They would agree with anything negative just for it to look bad on the present government. But if the Government change and you make those same comments, they would comment differently.

If only folks had been given the opportunity to read your report [page 3 or 4 in the newspaper] without having read their front page rant first...

But my mum did say, rather calmly, "It's just a first time impression."

Got to admit though, this is the best comment on what you wrote: “The serpents and gorillas that live in Mr Gough's mind compelled him to descend to a level of pitiful, sickening and Hitleristic journalism about Guyana." I can't stop giggling.'s stopped raining. But we're still a poor country. I keep looking for them pennies from heaven. 'best comment' I meant Stephen King-esque. Dali-esque.

Serpents and gorillas in one's mind. I have a few I must admit.

  • 39.
  • At 11:49 AM on 18 Apr 2007,
  • Heather wrote:

Just read this a fiercely proud Guyanese woman living and working in Guyana. You hit the nail on the head and I nearly died laughing sorry (!). I did take the time to read on and found it highly amusing. Don't worry about what KN has to say.

I was home for Christmas and me and some of my ex pat friends were also worried that the stadium wouldn't be completed in time. I'm glad we were proved wrong as we surely would have been the laughing stock of the W'Indies, not to mention it having an adverse affect on tourism (god knows we need the US$ and sterling!)

I was also worried about what foreigners would see in Guyana. The route into town from the airport and in particular Lombard Street brings the reality of poverty up close and personal. Every country has its problems and we shouldn't hide from them, but it would surely have been better to find an alternative route into town other than going through that particular area. First impressions count and while we may have made an effort to some degree, this was less than ideal.

Oh and on the issue of your luggage taking a detour...welcome to the world of travellers using a particular airline! If you're friend with Richard Branson, maybe you can convince him to make a detour on 1 twice weekly basis (London - Tobago - Guyana). This way we Guyanese can avoid certain airlines, not have 14 hour waits for connections and have our baggage arrive with US!

You're right about the cost of tickets too. Would be interesting to see which nationality had the majority of bought tickets for the Guyanese matches. I know of a few people living and working in the U.K. who couldn't go as the flights were really high as were the cost of game tickets.

On a happier note, you obviously seemed to enjoy the social scene in Guyana and no doubt hit many of the clubs and bars. Here's hoping you have many more visits to our beautiful country.

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