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As we mark National Village Day 2022, the International Decade for People of African Descent
Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G) salutes the villagers of Queenstown, Essequibo – the first
proprietary village and looks forward to a month of activities to celebrate all historic African
Villages – enduring and precious gift from our Ancestors and the foundation of Guyana’s local
The Village of Queenstown on the Essequibo Coast in Region Two, Pomeroon-Supenaam, holds
a special place in Guyana’s history. On the one hand it reflects the desperation of the White
planter class to keep the plantation economy viable after the loss of free labour due to the
abolition of slavery by any means. On the other hand, Queenstown represents the birth of a new
type of village that was distinct from the first villages like Victoria and Buxton.
Allan Young informs that the initial plan of the Crown Colony Administration, through the
passage of legislation, was to keep the Africans landless because they reasoned that with
agriculture being primarily what Africans had been involved in, land possession would see them
becoming independent farmers resulting in the loss of the former cheap labour to the
The planter class and the Colonial Administration however, underestimated the resolve of the
Freedmen, and clearly had no knowledge of the African sense of unity as a tool against the forces
they were up against. Thus emerged the village movement which began with the purchase of
entire plantations by the freedmen, the first such Plantation being Northbrook, renamed Victoria,
on November 2, 1839, by 83 emancipated Africans Dochfour, Ann’s Grove, Hope, Paradise and
Enmore for $10.
A flood of purchases which included, among others, the villages of Buxton, Plaisance,
Beterverwagting, and Triumph followed. The purchases of these entire plantations, many of
them being 500 acres, was a direct result of the bankruptcy of the owners and the plantation
economy becoming unviable.
Queenstown, however, represents a rejection of the mainstream thinking of the planter class and
the colonial authority. The opposing view was that if the freedmen owned plots of land close to
the plantations, they would engage themselves on their own plots but would still make
themselves available for work on the nearby plantations.
Leading the charge was Mr. Carberry, a member of the planter class, who purchased the
adjoining plantations of Dageraad, Mocha and Westfield after the end of apprenticeship. He laid
out the front lands as a township with streets and half acre plots which he sold for $100, $150
and $220 each, based on location. The village thus created flourished within a year, bringing to
life the first Proprietary Village, Queenstown.
The purchase of these individual plots which saw the owners receiving their individual titles, was
another demonstration that while enslaved, Africans were optimistic about emancipation and had
been clandestinely preparing for freedom.
As we celebrate Queenstown this year for National Village Day we must remind the villagers, as
we must do with all of our African villages, to cherish the sacrifice and foresight of our
Ancestors to provide them with land as a resource for future generations. We must resolve to
resist at every turn, attempts to appropriate this invaluable resource bequeathed to us.