THE HISTORY OF LINDEN
Linden, whose former name was Mackenzie, got its name from an American engineer of Scottish descent by the name of George Bain Mackenzie who first visited the area in 1913 to look at the possibility of mining bauxite on an economical basis. Tradition has it that he told the unsuspecting inhabitants that he wanted the land to plant oranges, an assertion which seems to be substantiated by the fact that up to today litigation is still going on as to the rightful ownership of the land. Directly opposite Linden on the western bank of the river stands Wismar, where many if not most bauxite workers live. Wismar, it should be pointed out, was never company property and as a result its inhabitants ‘enjoy’ a much lower standard of living.
Since the economic aspects of Demba in nationalization has been more than adequately dealt with elsewhere (2), this paper seeks only to deal with the sociological aspects.
Mining was first started in the area in 1916 at Three Friends Mine. At that time it was done on a primitive scale with a pick and shovel being used to remove the overburden . The bauxite which was shipped in a crude state was loaded onto barges which were towed down the river to waiting ships for transportation abroad.
By 1920, drying of bauxite had started and for the next ten years the annual exp0n tonnage rose to 100,000 tons. Production fell in the 1930’s owing to the Depression, but during the 1940’s the war effort led to an increase ,n the demand tor bauxite and export tonnage rose to 1,000 ,000 tons annually. The year 1938 saw the first shipment of calcined bauxite and from 1951 onwards there h.is been continued expansion in bauxite product ion . In 1969, according to the President of Alcan, Demba mined over 4,000,000 tons of bauxite.(3)
In 1961, as a result of government pressure on Demba, the Alumina Plant began operations and the company gradually increased its assets to the extent that by 1971 the company had approximately $100,000,000 in assets in the area. As recently as 1967 a bridge linking Wismar and Linden was built by Demba primarily to facilitate mining in the West Bank mines of the Company’s operations at Wismar.
In 1964 Demba set up the Mackenzie Development Trust with a capital rumoured to be in the vicinity of $1 m. Guyana, for the purpose of helping workers and residents to purchase the company houses in which they lived.