Sam Hinds • Forbes Burnham • Eon Sinclair
|30.2% of Guyana's population|
|Regions with significant populations|
United Kingdom, Canada, United States
|Christianity and Islam|
Afro-Guyanese people are the inhabitants of Guyana of Black African origin (as, formerly, as the Afro-Guianese they were the inhabitants of British Guiana). When planters made land or passage home available to East Indians as part of the terms of indentured labour in the late 19th century, when they had denied land to the Africans as emancipated slaves several decades earlier, Afro-Guianese resentment of other colonial ethnic groups was reinforced. (Note, however, that the emancipation process had provided tutelage by way of compensation, and that indentured labourers released by the termination of the indentured labour system received nothing, according to V.S.Naipaul.)
By the early twentieth century, the majority of the urban population of the country was African Guianese. Many Afro Guianese living in villages had migrated to the towns in search of work. Until the 1930s, Afro Guianese, especially those of mixed African and European descent, comprised the bulk of the nonwhite professional class. During the 1930s, as the Indian Guianese began to enter the middle class in large numbers, they began to compete with Afro Guianese for professional positions.
The Dutch West India Company turned to the importation of African slaves, who rapidly became a key element in the colonial economy. By the 1660s, the slave population numbered about 2,500; the number of indigenous people was estimated at 50,000, most of whom had retreated into the vast hinterland. Although African slaves were considered an essential element of the colonial economy, their working conditions were brutal. The mortality rate was high, and the dismal conditions led to more than half a dozen slave rebellions.
The most famous slave uprising, the Berbice Slave Uprising, began in February 1763. On two plantations on the Canje River in Berbice, slaves rebelled, taking control of the region. As plantation after plantation fell to the slaves, the European population fled; eventually only half of the whites who had lived in the colony remained. Led by Cuffy (now the national hero of Guyana), the African freedom fighters came to number about 3,000 and threatened European control over the Guianas. The freedom fighters were defeated with the assistance of troops from neighboring French and British colonies and from Europe.
Colonial life was changed radically by the demise of slavery. Although the international slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1807, slavery itself continued. In what is known as the Demerara rebellion of 1823 10–13,000 slaves in Demerara-Essequibo rose up against their masters. Although the rebellion was easily crushed, the momentum for abolition remained, and by 1838 total emancipation had been effected. The end of slavery had several ramifications. Most significantly, many former slaves rapidly departed the plantations. Some ex-slaves moved to towns and villages, feeling that field labor was degrading and inconsistent with freedom, but others pooled their resources to purchase the abandoned estates of their former masters and created village communities. Establishing small settlements provided the new Afro-Guyanese communities an opportunity to grow and sell food, an extension of a practice under which slaves had been allowed to keep the money that came from the sale of any surplus produce. The emergence of an independent-minded Afro-Guyanese peasant class, however, threatened the planters' political power, inasmuch as the planters no longer held a near-monopoly on the colony's economic activity.
Emancipation also resulted in the introduction of new ethnic and cultural groups into British Guiana. The departure of the Afro-Guyanese from the sugar plantations soon led to labor shortages. After unsuccessful attempts throughout the 19th century to attract Portuguese workers from Madeira, the estate owners were again left with an inadequate supply of labor. The Portuguese had not taken to plantation work and soon moved into other parts of the economy, especially retail business, where they became competitors with the new Afro-Guyanese middle class. More late, emigrated many East Indian for work in the lands.
Notable Afro-Guyanese people
- Akara, leader of the Berbice slave rebellion at Plantation Lilienburg
- John Agard, playwright, poet and children's writer
- Terrence Alli, former NABF light welterweight champion
- Clifford Anderson, former British Empire featherweight contender.
- Forbes Burnham, President of Guyana, 1980 - 1985.
- Basil Butcher, former Guyanese and West Indian Cricketer.
- Ashton Chase, Guyanese politician and legal scholar.
- Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, father of the trade union movement in British Guyana.
- Colin Croft, former Guyanese and West Indian Cricketer.
- Cuffy, leader of the Berbice slave rebellion at Plantation Lilienburg
- Damon, leader of the Essequibo rebellion
- Adrian Dutchin, popular Guyanese Soca artist and one half of duo, X2.
- Roy Fredericks, former Guyanese and West Indian Cricketer. Highest average for Guyana.
- Lance Gibbs, former Guyanese and West Indian Cricketer.
- Jack Gladstone, leader of the 1821 Demerara Slave Rebellion
- Eddy Grant, popular musician.
- Ebanie, popular musician.
- Roger Harper, Guyanese and West Indian Cricketer - Former Kenyan Cricket coach.
- Wesley Holder, political activist based in Brooklyn, New York.
- Desmond Hoyte, President of Guyana, 1985-1992.
- Sam Hinds, former President of Guyana, Prime Minister of Guyana.
- Carl Hooper, former West Indian Cricket Captain.
- Ezekiel Jackson, professional wrestler (real name Rycklon Stephens) who currently performs for World Wrestling Entertainment and was the final ECW Champion.
- Colin Klass, President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF)
- Eusi Kwayana, former Guyanese cabinet member and veteran politician.
- Clayton Lambert, American, Guyanese and West Indian Cricketer. Scored the most runs for Guyana.
- Lincoln Lewis, trade union leader
- Clive Lloyd, former Guyanese and West Indian Cricketer.
- P. Reign, Canadian rapper.
- Quamina, leader of the 1823 Demerara Slave Rebellion.
- Red Cafe, American rapper.
- Ptolemy Reid, former Prime Minister of Guyana
- Walter Rodney, historian and political activist.
- Dr. Frederick Hilborn Talbot, former Guyana Ambassador to the USA and Haiti, former High Commissioner to Canada, Jamaica,Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados;former Bishop of the AME Church in Tennessee, USA; author of African American Worship.
- George W. S. Talbot, current Guyana Ambassador to the USA, former pastor, former Lecturer at University of Guyana; Linguist (fluent in Spanist, French and English, conversant in Portuguese).
- Dr. David Abner Talbot, former advisor to Emperor Haile Selassie 1; author of Haile Selassie 1: Silver Jubilee, Contemporary Ethiopia, The Musical Bride; former journalist and Chief editor of the Ethiopian Herald Newspapers of Ethiopia.
Notable people of Afro-Guyanese descent
- Red Cafe, Brooklyn rapper.
- Deborah Cox, Canadian R&B singer-songwriter and actress.
- Jason David, Canadian-born American football cornerback.
- Peter Davison, played the Doctor in Doctor Who, has a Guyanese father of mixed race.
- JDiggz, Canadian rapper with an Afro-Guyanese mother.
- Melanie Fiona, Canadian R&B singer-songwriter, also of Indo-Guyanese descent
- Eddy Grant, British reggae artist.
- Leona Lewis, British singer with a Guyanese father.
- Ebanie, American singer and mix-audio engineer with 2/3 indo-Guyanese mother and Afro-Guyanese father.
- Kasey, American singer and mix-audio engineer with 2/3 indo-Guyanese mother and Afro-Guyanese father.
- Derek Luke, American actor.
- Maestro, Canadian rapper and actor.
- Nicole Narain, Playboy model, Afro-Guyanese mother and father was 1/2 Indo-Guyanese and 1/2 Chinese-Guyanese.
- Trevor Phillips, British politician.
- Rihanna, singer with an Afro-Guyanese mother.
- Saukrates, Canadian rapper/singer
- Simone Denny, former lead singer of Canadian based electro-dance pop trio, Love Inc.
- Eon Sinclair, bassist of Canadian rock/ska/reggae band Bedouin Soundclash
- Sean Patrick Thomas, actor (Save the Last Dance and Barbershop)
- Phil Lynott, the frontman of the rock band Thin Lizzy, with an Afro-Guyanese father.
- Révauger 2008, pp. 105–106.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.