Looking to Experience Afro-Guyanese Heritage?
In recognition of Afro-Guyanese ancestors who fought for freedom, several heritage sites throughout Guyana’s coastal region are worthy of a visit for Guyanese and visitors alike. So, as your Guyana getaway or weekend gets started or winds down, why not visit a few of these points of interest to learn more about Guyana’s colonial past?
The 1763 Monument
One such site dedicated to the emancipation period is the 1763 Monument, popularly known as “Cuffy” – the name of the house slave who led the 1763 revolt. Located at the busy Square of the Revolution in Georgetown, Cuffy plays an integral role within Afro-Guyanese culture and embodies sacred African art. It is said that the spirit taught Guyanese artist Phillip Moore who was inspired by a dream that allowed this magnificent concept to materialize. Because of this, Cuffy’s unique composition symbolizes a serene ancestral spirit.
The intricate detail of the five plaques surrounding the plinth represent different aspects of the fight for freedom – seeking inspiration, uniting the people, destroying the enemies, control and praise and thanksgiving. The next time you’re passing by the Square of the Revolution, take a few minutes to study this 15 foot tall, towering structure that pays homage to the Berbice rebellion that paved the way for several other revolts around the country and the Caribbean.
The 1823 Rebellion Monument
Just 10 minutes away from Cuffy lies another significant monument. The 1823 Rebellion Monument located on seawall road, opposite the Guyana Defense Force’s Camp Ayanganna pays respect to the most significant slave rebellion in Guyana’s history. Even the 1763 revolt pales in comparison. While Cuffy’s statue portrays strong African ancestral motifs, the rebellion subtly portrays the intensity of the fight for freedom. This intensity is calmly set against the image of a cross – a symbol suggested of the deep-rooted Christian faith that the leader of the revolt, Quamina embodied.
Beterverwagting Village embodies the true ancestral connectedness of camaraderie as it is one of the villages bought by freed Africans during the Emancipation period in 1834. For the sum of GY$52,000, 62 freed Africans purchased the village from Mr. Baron Van Gronigen, who was the last remaining Dutch planter in the then British Guiana. Travellers with a keen interest in African history in Guyana should take the opportunity to visit this village, located on the East Coast of Demerara 10 minutes away from Georgetown.
The Emancipation Monument is a striking symbol dedicated to the 62 freed Africans who purchased the village where it is housed; a clay-coloured hand adorned with broken shackles and chains, clutching a book said to represent the registered title to the property in which the village was founded. Persons desirous of seeing this masterful piece of art are encouraged to add it on their list of must-see monuments.
African Liberation Monument
In memory of those who have struggled and continue to struggle for freedom from human bondage, the African Liberation Monument was unveiled on August 26, 1974 on Namibia Day in the Umana Yana compound on High Street Kingston, Georgetown. The monument consists of five polished greenheart logs encased in a jasper stand on a granite boulder. This is said to be a symbol of the strength and perseverance of the emancipation movement. The tiny pebbles placed around it signify the millions of people involved in the fight against slavery towards freedom. The Umana Yana, is open to the public and welcomes anyone who wants to learn about the history of Guyana.
The Damon Monument and Cross
This monument represents the brave African domestic labourer Damon who was executed for his role in the protest against a new system of apprenticeship. Labourers went on strike on August 3, 1834, declaring that they were free and would only work for half a day. Damon, who was their leader, raised a flag to represent the labourers in the Trinity Church Yard at La Belle Alliance, which they occupied during the protest. He was hanged and became an icon who is remembered for his quest for freedom. You can visit this monument in Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast.
At La Belle Alliance Christian Cemetery on the Essequibo Coast, a few minutes away from the Damon Monument, a tall white cross can be found. It is said that this cross is situated in the exact spot where Damon and his 700 apprentice workers gathered to protest the inhumane treatment of workers on the plantations.
The Museum of African Heritage
If you’re looking for a place to have an immersive learning experience about Afro-Guyanese history, then the Museum of African Heritage is the perfect place. This museum, located at Barima Avenue, Bel Air Park, was founded in 1985 with the purchase of the collections of African art of Mr. Hubert H Nicholson and Mrs. Desiree Malik. During your visit to the museum, you will find an art collection from local communities and the Burrowes School of Art. The caretakers welcome visitors interested in the preservation of the culture of the Afro-Guyanese community through art.
In addition to these monuments, there are quite a few other places and events dedicated to the Emancipation period, and the Afro-Guyanese culture by extension. These monuments are all symbols of a testament to unity in action – a preservation of just how much our ancestors sacrificed for the emancipation and liberation of its people.
Travel Better in Guyana: Guyana is working hard to conserve its vibrant wildlife and ecosystems and protect its culture and heritage. We realise that it is often difficult to understand how you can support these aims and make a difference when you travel. That’s why we’ve set out to help you by creating Visitor Guidelines For Sustainable Travel. All passionate globetrotters, curious culture seekers and bold adventurers are encouraged to do all they can to leave a positive impact on the people and places you visit in Guyana.