Guyana celebrates 166 years of Chinese Arrival

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File photo: The Dragon Dance performed by the Chinese Association Dancers

January 12, 2018 marks the 166 years since Chinese arrived in Guyana in 1853.

In commemoration of this event a ceremony was held at the Windsor Forest Primary School on the West Coast of Demerara.

While delivering brief remarks, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo underscored the importance of the contribution of the Chinese towards national development.

Meanwhile, Charge d’ Affairs at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Guyana, Chen Xilai, committed his Government’s participation in the strengthening of bilateral relations with Guyana.

During the ceremony the general secretary of the Chinese Association, Jason Wang spoke of the contribution made by the Enterprise to the school.

“We have a track record of doing work at the school and that will continue as part of our duty. In 2013, we fixed the playground by doing some landfilling and we also built the two bleachers. We have maintained the bleachers and this year we rebuilt the fence and recapped the tarmac. Next year, we plan to do more to benefit the students and teachers. Last year, we donated some sports gears among other things.

Wang underscored that the village has a rich history for them, as the first Chinese President of Guyana, Arthur Chung was from this village.

Further, he noted that “the monument that recognizes Chinese arrival to this country is erected right in this school compound, so we have a mandate to contribute here and we will fulfill that mandate,”

The Monument at Windsor Forest Primary School (SN image)

The Monument at Windsor Forest Primary School was erected in 1986 by the Guyana-China Friendship Society to commemorate the coming of the first Chinese immigrants to Guyana on the Glentanner from Amoy in China.

They were all assigned to work on the West Coast Demerara at Windsor Forest (105), Pouderoyen (103) and Union (1). Nine had died on the journey to Guyana.

From 1853-1879, a total of 13,541 Chinese, which comprised a diverse group who hailed from different regions, spoke different dialects and embraced different religious and cultural beliefs, from China, were scattered across the counties of Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo.

They were among the smallest group of indentured labourers brought to Guyana, and initially comprised only men.

Later, a small number of Chinese women were brought to serve as indentured labourers. On completion of their indentureship, many of them returned to China or emigrated to different parts of the Caribbean. Of the lot that remained, several of them became astute business operators and engaged in commercial pursuits, including becoming barbers and tradesmen.

Over the years, the strong, comprehensive programme of bilateral cooperation has resulted in Guyana benefiting from the services of the Chinese medical doctors and technicians, the donation of equipment to the health sector, the educational work of the Confucius Institute, the support given to the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service, the donation of scientific equipment to the tune of $50 million to the Cyril Potter College of Education, infrastructural support for the expansion and renovation of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), the widening of the East Coast Demerara Public Road, and the donation of vehicles and other equipment to the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force.

Chinese indentured immigrants arrived in British Guiana aboard the ship Glentanner on January 12, 1853. The first 262 were joined, five days later, by an additional 85 indentured immigrants who disembarked from another ship, the ‘Lord Elgin’.

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