In recognition of the struggles of some of the greatest freedom fighters pre and post Emancipation, several monuments were erected around Guyana. There are also museums dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich history of Africans. Here is a look at some of those African monuments and museums.
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 had occupied during the protest.
He was hanged at the Parliament Building at noon on October 13, 1834. He was indeed an icon and will be remembered for his quest for freedom.
His monument is located at the Anna Regina Car Park on the Essequibo Coast.
The 1763 Monument
This monument was unveiled by former President L.F.S. Burnham on May, 23 1976. It commemorates the 1763 slave rebellion; the first revolt that came close to success.
Cuffy, as the leader of this rebellion, is known to be one of Guyana’s greatest freedom fighters. Situated at the Square of the Revolution, Georgetown, the monument which is popularly known as Cuffy stands 10.1 metres (33 feet) high and weighs two and a half tons. It sits on a plinth and showcases a fountain that creates a picturesque effect. Five plaques surround the plinth, each representative of an aspect of revolution from slavery. The plaques represent seeking inspiration, uniting the people, destroying the enemies, ‘control and praise’ and thanksgiving. The statue was erected by renowned local artist Dr. Phillip Alphonso Moore (now deceased) in 1976.
Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow Monument
The Hubert N. Critchlow Monument on the lawns of the compound of Parliament Building was unveiled on December 2, 1964 by the then Premier, Dr. Cheddi Jagan. It is a tribute to Critchlow, known as the father of the trade union movement in Guyana. The bronze sculpture of the late trade unionist by Edward Burrowes, is mounted on a two-metre high pedestal.
The 1823 Rebellion Monument
This monument pays respect to the slave rebellion of 1823 which took place across villages on the East Coast of Demerara. It was designed and sculpted by renowned Guyanese sculptor Ivor Thom. The monument features a man standing tall with a cutlass in one hand and a large cross attached to chains in the other hand, mirroring a rosary. It also features small figures representing women slaves to its sides.
The Museum of African Art and Ethnology
This museum was founded in 1985 with the purchase of the collections of African art of Mr. Hubert H Nicholson and Mrs. Desiree Malik. These collections were annotated and accessioned through UNESCO by Dr. William Seligman, Curator of African and Oceanic Art, Brooklyn Museum. The museum was declared open in 1992. Since then donations from the local community have continued, including art and craft brought from African communities here in Guyana. The museum has collected pieces from the Burrowes School of art and other day-to-day artefacts from local community.
In 2001, the museum was renamed the Museum of African Heritage in order to open their doors to a wider audience and begin to fully address the African experience in Guyana. This new mandate or mission statement allows the museum to explore research and solicit donations from a wider cross section of the local and international community, as well as to begin to provide programmes that will educate visitors to the activities in African lives. It is the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
The Walter Roth Museum
This is said to be the oldest such museum in the English-speaking Caribbean region. It was established in 1974, but not opened to the public until 1982. It is a non-profit institution created by the Government of Guyana to collect, exhibit and conserve artefacts relating to the ancient cultures of Guyana, to conduct anthropological research and disseminate knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana through its in-house and out-reach programmes.
The African Liberation Monument
The African Liberation Monument was unveiled on August 26, 1974 by former President Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham outside the Umana Yana benab “in memory of all of those who have struggled and continue to struggle for freedom from human bondage”.
The monument consists of five polished Greenheart logs encased in a jasper stand on a granite boulder which represents the strength of the freedom movement. The pebbles around it signify the millions of people involved in the Freedom fight.