Guyana has one of the most rich and varied heritage in the region. Beginning with the arrival of the Amerindians and developed and consolidated with the arrival of Europeans, (Dutch, French, English and even Spanish) along with the Africans, Indians, Chinese and Maderians the legacy became increasingly cosmopolitan and polyglot. Each group brought to Guyana, its cultural traditions and made its imprint on the Guyanese historical landscape.
The variety of these contributions provided us with the plural tapestry, material of which, we are so very proud. I am happy to be associated therefore with this bulletin which seeks to sensitize the Guyanese public to our rich heritage and to the work of The National Trust of Guyana in the preservation and propagation of that legacy.
On the behalf of the Board of Directors of The National Trust of Guyana and on my own behalf I wish you every success in the future.
James G. Rose
THE NATIONAL TRUST OF GUYANA
In 1972, the office of the National Trust of Guyana was
established by an act of Parliament .Prior to the office of the National Trust, the preservation of Guyana’s historic sites was the vested task of the National History and Arts Council, which was founded on 1 January 1963, and the Standing Committee for the Preservation and Protection of Archaeological, Monuments and Historic Sites, which was established in 1963.
Main Objectives of the
- The preservation of buildings of national or architectural, historic or artistic interest and the augmentation of the amenities and of those buildings and places and their surroundings.
- The preservation of the furniture and pictures and chattels of any description having national or historic or artistic value.
- The access to and enjoyment by the public of such buildings, places and chattels.
- The promotion of the permanent preservation for the benefit of the nation, of property of beauty or historic interest.
The Trust is also obliged to propagate the awareness and a wholesome understanding and appreciation of the relevance and significance of these aspects of the nation’s heritage to the national psyche.
The Trust consists of members who are appointed by the Cabinet. These members meet once per month and render their advice for the execution of the tasks of the National Trust of Guyana
OAS INTERPRETIVE MARKERS
The National Trust of Guyana, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce and The Organization of American States has erected ten interpretive signs at heritage sites nationwide for the promotion of heritage tourism. These oval – shaped signs have been erected at the following locations: Mission Chapel Congregational Church, Independence Park, 1763 Monument, Fort Nassau, Fort Kyk-Over- Al, Fort Zeelandia, The Botanical Gardens, the British Military Cemetery, Christiansburg Waterwheel and the Damon Monument.
CARIMOS DATABASE PROJECT
CARIMOS: The Programme of the Wider Caribbean on Monuments and Sites was created in 1982 to make known the cultural heritage of the Caribbean region. Based in the Dominican Republic a project for the establishment of a Caribbean Heritage Database has been implemented throughout the region.
The National Trust of Guyana has been actively involved with CARIMOS assisting with the identification in a data base aimed at promoting the Caribbean’s database.
1763 FIRST BLOW FOR FREEDOM
In collaboration with the National Archives of Guyana an exhibition commemorating the events of the 1763 Slave Rebellion was launched on 20 February 2002 at the National Archives, Company Path. The exhibition was viewed by a number of individuals and students from various secondary schools.
Several old maps of the colony of Berbice, illustrations of slaves and photographs of the ruins of Fort Nassau,
a model of the Fort Nassau, publications on loan from the University of Guyana’s Caribbean Research Library and a model of the 1763 monument were also on display.
The exhibition examined the development and history of the colony of Berbice, the causes, course and consequence of the rebellion and the various leaders involved during various stages of the ‘First Blow for Freedom’. the exhibition culminated on 5 March 2002.
EDUCATIONAL: The Sapodila Learning Centre
On 7 December 2001 a visit was made to this institution. The students displayed a variety of talents with the use of role-play and mime with an historical slant.
Stories of the First Peoples, the enslaved Africans and the indentured immigrants were well presented and accompanied by a noteworthy display of items pertaining to the material culture of Guyanese.
The centre has a good collection of photographic prints, which were obtained from the Public Record Office in London, with the assistance of the British High Commission.
The Conservation Officer Miss Allyson Stoll presented a slide show on the Built Heritage of Guyana.
Heritage is our legacy from the past
what we live with today, and what we pass on to the future
Kyk -Over – Al
Kyk – over – Al: the historical name of a small island, approximately 1.5 acres in size is located at the junction of the Mazaruni and Cuyuni rivers. The island has a rich and colourful history.
In the late 16th century Europeans began to trade in the West Indies for salt, which was at that time a ‘luxury’ precious in Europe. Some traders established a system of barter. European trade goods were exchanged for indigenous products such as annatto, which was used as a dye in Europe.
However, the quantities of items supplied by the indigenous peoples was insufficient and the trade was not economically viable. Thus depots were built to collect and store produce until the arrival of the ships.
By this time two depots had been established: one at Nibie a small village on the Abary Creek and one on the Pomeroon River. The latter was soon removed during the early part of the 17th century to a small island at the junction of the three rivers, Essequibo, Cuyuni and Mazaruni.
Here a more substantial post was built. A small fort armed with a few guns was constructed. It was named Fort Ter Hoogen’ in honour of an influential Dutchman’. However, this appellation soon gave way to the descriptive name. Until the appointment of a Commandeur in 1657, the island seems to have had a precarious existence.
DEVELOPMENT & DECLINE
In 1666, the island was captured by the English, it was recaptured and fortified by the Dutch. Activities reached a peak in 1670, when a great deal of trading was done with the local tribes.
By 1716, the island became overcrowded and this resulted in the decision to construct a new house for the Commandeur at Cartabo Point. Dutch administration was relocated to Fort Island closer to the mouth of the Essequibo river. In 1748, most of the buildings were
demolished and the materials were used to construct a sugar mill at Plantation Duyenenburg which was located along the Essequibo River.
During the boundary arbitration of 1897 between Venezuela and British Guiana, excavations of the foundations of the remaining ruins and the bricks of the lower course were undertaken to clarify the builders of the fort. The samples taken, were analysed in England. These examinations revealed that the bricks used in the construction of the fort were of Dutch origin. This knowledge was used to substantiate the claim that the British had inherited territories formerly occupied by the Dutch.
In June 1910, the island was thoroughly cleared of its undergrowth by an order of Governor Sir Frederick Hodgson. Many parts of the fort including the stone ramparts and brick pavements complete with relics of Dutch occupation such as canon balls, glass bottles and several clay tobacco pipes were unearthed.
The ruins revealed that the ground floor was used as a storehouse for food and goods received from the Indigenous and a magazine. There were three rooms on the top floor, one for the soldiers, one for the Commandeur and the other for the Secretary of the colony of Essequibo.
Today all that remains of the fort is a brick arch. This fort was probably the smallest ever built by the Dutch overseas.
A NATIONAL MONUMENT
On 20 July 1999, the island was declared a National monument. This site is maintained and managed by the National Trust of Guyana.
Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life.
Dr. James Rose: Chairman
Dr. Patrick Williams
Major General [ret’d] Joseph Singh
Mr. Orin Hinds
Mr. Andrew Bishop
Mr. Rawle Edinboro
Ms. June Dubisette
Professor Rory Westmaas
Mr. Egbert Carter
Ms. Joan Elvis
Representatives of Tourism and Hospitality Association, Environmental Protection Agency and The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
Our Cultural Heritage
Culture is a concept that encompasses the totality of the way of life of a group of people. Key components of culture are manifest in the shared customs, habits, traditions and beliefs that, in combination, impart distinctiveness to any group of people. Heritage is the legacy; that which has accumulated over a period of time – a society’s inheritance. Heritage includes the natural as well as the cultural environment. Historic sites, naturally occurring landscapes, built environments (those that have been set up, put together or constructed by man), biodiversity and historical collections all form part of a nation’s heritage.
The National Trust of Guyana remains committed to the preservation of Guyana’s heritage.
To commemorate Guyana’s 48th Independence anniversary the Trust will be collaborating with other sister agencies the National Archives of Guyana and the National Museum to mount an exhibition in May 2002.
Preparations are underway for a television documentary of the history and development of the National Trust of Guyana.