Rich history recalled at monument to Indian arrival calls
May 10, 2007
A MONUMENT to mark the first East Indian settlement aback of Bush Lot on the Essequibo Coast has been commissioned by Chairman of Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), Mr. Alli Baksh.
The ceremony last Sunday was one of several events, in the region, to celebrate the 169th anniversary of the arrival, in this country, of East Indians from India.
Addressing scores of people, also from adjoining villages, Baksh, who grew up in the Bush Lot settlement, said 99 families, 92 of Hindu and seven of Muslim faiths, first lived there.
It was the initial settlement for East Indians on the Essequibo Coast and has a rich history, including about the majority of families who were farmers and lived in love and worked together.
Another speaker, former parliamentarian, Mr. Isahack Basir recalled that the socio-economic situation in then British Guiana, between 1814 and 1860, caused the ruling class of the time to make some accommodation for pacifying the growing anger of ex-slaves and indentured Indians.
He said among the concessions given were portions of land at Maria’s Pleasure, on Wakenaam island and Aurora and Huist T’Dieren, also on the coast, where a 30 acres plot was known as ‘settlement’.
Basir said the abolition of slavery in 1834 led to a number of changes by the white plutocracy and the struggle of indentured Indians and ex-slaves, for better wages and living conditions, as well as the concentration of sugar plantations in Demerara and Berbice, resulted in the closure of 34 mills in Essequibo, the last two, in 1928, at Anna Regina and Hampton Court.
He said the owners of Anna Regina, having closed the estate, virtually abandoned all infrastructure for the housing of indentured Indians and their growing offspring and the plight of the survivors spawned constant flooding, homelessness, unemployment, poverty and suicide.
It was during that time Governor Guggisburg authorised the occupation of the 30 acres high land by 99 families but they could have only built shelters.
Having gathered remnants of wood from abandoned logies, they supplemented those materials with manicole, staves, wattle fixed walls and mud floors, Basir said.
The commemorative structure which was the focus of the Sunday function was erected on a donated piece of land.