Guyana’s First Village: Victorious Victoria now 180 Years – by Francis Quamina Farrier

 – by Francis Quamina Farrier

The “First Village’ Arch, which has been designed by the villagers in 2016

There have been some occasions when I wished that I was born in VICTORIA, a village which is known as “The First Village”. As a matter of fact, when I was a young and up-coming journalist back in the 1970s and working at the Films Division of the Ministry of Information which was located on Brickdam in Georgetown in the building now occupied by IICA, I produced a Film Documentary entitled, “THE FIRST VILLAGE”. 

That film documentary is about VICTORIA and its history, with some scenes which are no longer in existence.   

On November 7, 1839, Plantation Northbrook was bought by 83 freed enslaved Africans with monies which they had saved from income earned over the years, from mini enterprises such as farming and poultry rearing, even while enslaved. What is not so well-known, is that the asking price for that plantation was unfairly and greatly increased in order to discourage the prospective buyers from becoming successful in their efforts to become property-owners, and so soon after emancipation. Becoming the owners of VICTORIA is the pride of the descendants of those 83 purchasers in 1839 and all residents of Victoria and those who love that iconic village.

Visiting that community for over sixty years I have seen its growth. I have also seen many Victorians strive and succeed. The first I would mention is Shetland Wilson the Calypsonian known as “King Fighter”, who ruled the roost for many years. (Listen to: “Come Le We Go Sookie” video below). He holds what I believe is the longest composition at the top of the music Hit Parade on local Radio, which was for over twenty weeks. The title of that composition was “Oh, My Dear”, which was in fact, not a calypso, but a romantic ballad.

There is a rich tradition of music in VICTORIA which includes The Masquerade. Although based in New York for some years, there are those Victorians such as Winston “Jeggae” Hoppie and Dr. Rosalind October who help to keep the African Guyanese Folk Culture alive and are very involved with the Guyana Cultural Association of New York’s (GCA) annual Kwe Kwe which is usually held on the Friday before the Labour Day Caribbean Carnival in New York and is extremely popular.

Over the past 180 years, VICTORIA has produced scores of great Guyanese; among them sculptor, artist and poet, Ivor Thom, who produced both the DAMON and the 1823 Monuments. There is also Justice Jo-Ann Barlow, Trade Unionist Stonewall Jackson and his son Barrister Rexford Jackson, Educator Clare Alicia Dougall, Attorney and Real Estate Broker Melanie Headley and New York-based Designer Claire Ann Goring, among scores of others.

VICTORIA has also produced some great families such as the POOL Family who are descendants from Newton Pool, one of the Purchasers of the village 180 years ago. A.B. Pool is a well-known professional Victorian Guyanese of today. His father, Mr. Pool, was such a great building contractor, that his name and fame spread across the Caribbean where he secured a number of building contracts.

Another great Family of VICTORIA is the Lutchmans. Educator Dr. Harold Lutchman is well-known and highly respected not only here in his native Guyana but in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom. Another celebrity VICTORIA Family is the Ainsworths. They established themselves not only in Education but also in Politics. Nonetheless, although there is obvious physical development in VICTORIA at present, many villagers have been expressing concern about the needs of the Youths; especially in the  area of education.

During my own walkabout in the Village last Saturday evening, and interacting with some of the youths, I recognized that many of them are unaware of much of the history of the Village.  Returning to his native VICTORIA after spending a number of years in Canada, Desmond Saul is at present, very active with the educational and social needs of the Youths of the village. Saul has expressed the view that , “There is a large mass of illiterate youth who are unemployable, because they are unable to read and write properly or not at all.”  At this time, Desmond Saul is doing what he can to help turn things around and is giving formal education to some of the Youths of the village. For even though VICTORIA looks relatively prosperous, and has had a very high educational standards and achievement in the past, the Youths of the village today need urgent attention in the field of education, and that is where Desmond Saul is making a tremendous contribution.

So what about that film documentary, “THE FIRST VILLAGE” which I produced at the Ministry of Information way back in the 1970s and which is about VICTORIA? My understanding is that sometime in the early 1990s it was dispatched to the incinerator and burnt. Could there be a copy of it in existence somewhere? There is so much in that film documentary which will be useful today. Happy 180 Anniversary VICTORIA.

On-Going home construction at VICTORIA in 2019. (Photo by Francis Q, Farrier)

Farmers of VICTORIA about to send off some of their Produce to Market on  November 9, 2019 .. (Photo by F.Q. Farrier)

King Fighter “Come Le We Go Sookie” (original).

King Fighter (Shurland Wilson) (March 10, 1928 – December 12, 1999) Born in Victoria Village, on the east coast of Demerara in Guyana, Wilson got his name, King Fighter, because he was a boxer known for his fancy footwork.

————————————————————————-

       NAMES OF PURCHASERS OF VICTORIA VILLAGE -1839

       Shareholders of Plantation Northbrook (Victoria Village)

John Sertima, William Lewis, Thomas Baillie, James M’rae, Frank Baillie, Samuel Benter, Romeo Isaac, Daniel Isaac, Thomas Colin, Martin Nkuany, Simon Hanover, Simon Scott, Thomas Hercules, John Lewis, Wm. Gamell Reaves, James Handy, John Wheelaii, Voltore Robert, John Milcel, Michael James, Simon Tate, Sampson Cooper, Isaac Chapman, Primus Samuel, Cupidore Hopkinson, Quashie Porter, Cornwall Porter, Caesar Solomon, Hall Porter, Quammie Adam, Hamlet Cato, Simon Spencer, Melville Porter, Quashie Bard, Quacco Hammilton, Medlin Hammilton, John Sion, Cross Sumner, Marlborough Sam, Pollidore Bentick, Cicero Hercules, Jiljjs Cumming, Gamby James, Moses Hopkinson, Bill Williams, Blackwall Lancester, Scipio Samuel, Pat Murphy, Ned Mackay, William Negaday, Alexander Porter, William Smart, Catherine Tom, Kenneth Jarrick, Hannah Porter, Sammy Knight, Hannah Porte, Adam Grant, Maui A Grant, Colin M’rae, John Fiddell, Simon King, Bellender Hopkinson.

Signed in my presence this 30th day of November, 1839,
C. H. Strutt, Stipendiary Magistrate. Witness to the several Signatures, Mary Strutt.

SOURCE: 1841 Session 1 [321] Papers relative to the West Indies. 1841. British Guiana.

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On November 17, 2019 at 4:20 am

    Francis
    We lived in GoldenGrove village and
    attended Victoria RC school. Walked the
    mile to school daily barefooted sometimes
    hitching a ride on my grandfathers donkey
    cart. Two brothers married two sisters
    one family lived in Nabaclais the other
    GG. Both had 7 siblings who grew up
    as brothers/sisters…first cousins.
    We all attended Victoria RC school
    where we were taught the three R’s
    Reading
    Riting
    Rithmatic
    By a strict but ‘brutal’ disciplinarian head
    master Mr Truman ! Fear his motivating
    factor. Caning with tamberind branch his
    method of punishment.
    It was interesting reading the history of
    Victoria village …thanks for the enlightenment
    Most of my ancestors are buried in the
    Cove and John cemetery next village up.
    My mother Olga was a very active member
    of the Victoria church/school in 50/60’s.
    After racial riots they moved to Canada
    where they exited in their 92 and 93 years.
    So many wonderful boyhood memories
    will remain with me until my exit.
    A bit of BG history re-written.

    Keep on writing my friend
    The pen (key) is mightier than sword.

    Saludos

    Kamtan uk/spain

  • Tim Mew  On November 18, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    So many stories, facts, history and past knowledge about Guyana is now forgotten and not passed onto the newer generations.
    A great pity as it would fill them with pride, courage and determination to succeed and grow.
    For us ex Guyanese living abroad, I can only say that it was a huge pity that for whatever reason we had to abandon our birth country.
    Stories like this still fills us with pride and renewed interest in Guyana, when we read them.
    I recently had to put together a presentation on Guyana 🇬🇾 that I called El Dorado. The amount of information presented had the audience absolutely amazed with both historical and present day Guyana.
    Tim Mew.
    Ex Guyana and Hornets Rugby player and third generation born Guyanese.

    • kamtanblog  On November 19, 2019 at 5:22 pm

      Tim we are the lost generation.
      Guyana’s loss …UK/OZ gain !
      Economic migrants benefit the adopted/host country.
      Will certainly be visiting in future

      Kamtan

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