New features for annual Portuguese Day Arrival observances

A scene from a prior Portuguese Arrival Day observances   

The event will also see a feature address by President David Grainger.

According to Boatswain the exhibition will showcase Portuguese fashion, delicacy, crafts and information to educate the public on the Portuguese culture and customs.

Several presenters are carded to speak at the function, each detailing in retrospect, the arrival of Portuguese, how they adapted to Guyanese culture and shared theirs as well.

In late 1834, a small group of Portuguese recruited from the poverty-stricken Portuguese-owned island of Madeira, arrived in Guyana to work on a sugar plantation in Demerara. Then on May 3, 1835, 40 indentured peasants arrived from Madeira on the ship, “Louisa Baillie”.

The arrivals were brought in through the private enterprise of the planters who were made aware of the great poverty and political instability in the island. The hard-pressed Madeiran peasants were most likely eager to seek their fortune in a land being referred to as “El Dorado”. By the end of the year, 553 others arrived and were contracted as indentured labourers to various sugar plantations.

From the time of the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and, particularly, during the period of the campaign to end slavery, the planters of the Caribbean and Guyana were aware of the acute need to find a substitute labour force that was both cheap and reliable to fill the ranks of the soon-to-be-liberated Africans.

They initially were interested in seeking a labour force from Europe since they realised that there was a decreasing proportion of Whites in the colony. They felt that this imbalance could be remedied by recruiting indentured labour from European countries.

In addition to strengthening their own security, they wanted to have an alternative labour force to compete with the ex-slaves for plantation jobs after emancipation and thus forcing down employment costs.

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