When Barbadians emigrated to Guyana…

Some Bajans choose to forget our shared roots and history…

The period between 1863 and 1886 was the most intense period of Barbadian emigration to Guyana, but even as late as the 1920s and 1930s there were still Barbadians leaving for Guyana.  The majority of Barbadians who migrated to Guyana were cane-cutters.  The then British Guiana was a safety valve for a densely populated island such as Barbados that had limited job prospects for the mass of working class people, and little available and affordable land for the development of an independent peasantry.  The genealogies of Guyanese and Barbadians are so intertwined that it is not uncommon to learn of Guyanese who have grandparents from Barbados, and vice versa.  There are deep families ties in which, in one family, half of the children could be born in Guyana and the other half in Barbados.  My own extended family embodied this split national profile.  The familial ties are enduring, but the vicissitudes of development have been more favorable to Barbados, while the fortunes of Guyana have rendered the country less attractive by comparison in the contemporary period…

From the excellent Sunday Stabroek story Mudheads in Barbados: A Lived Experience


Filed under Barbados, History, Immigration

14 responses to “When Barbadians emigrated to Guyana…

  1. this is very good info, My great grand parent mr lawton gaylord saalsfield duke arrived in guyana in the 1890s and did not give us much info on his families in carter. All he said was that his father was superintendant of the island and his mothers name was elisa duke. He was born in st peters st michaels barbados in the 1860s. I have tried very hard to get some info with no luck on him. He was a sailor and arrived in guyana with a half brother carter with his yatch and never eturned to barbados. Would they have left ow can I find info on this man and his families.

  2. what will they think of next

    Guyanese should remain home in Guyana where they live. That would be better for everyone.

  3. jdid

    would be nice if we all knew about those links. I keep hearing about a lot of Trini – Bajan links from the early parts of the 20th century as well.

  4. Visitor 1

    History cannot be denied. Indeed, it is always good to look at where we have come from and how those who came before us lived. However, it serves as no reasonable excuse for illegal immigration. Mass illegal immigration of Guyanese is not solely an issue that confronts Barbados but many other Caribbean territories as well.
    I’m tired of the ridiculous Barbados bashing. Regardless of what all the convenient CSME shouters would like their respective nationals to think, Barbados has a proud history of embracing our Caribbean brothers and sisters at some of the most senior levels of the public service in particular.
    I can think of no other country in the Caribbean where a Barbadian is a Director of Public Prosecutions, notwithstanding the fact that many of our best lawyers have been hired by individuals and companies throughout the region. Here in Barbados a Guyanese man is our Director of Public Prosecutions.
    Nowhere else in the region can I think of where a Barbadian heads any island’s primary health care facility.
    Here in Barbados we have a Trinidadian man who heads our main hospital the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. And the list goes on and on…at one time the Deputy Director of Prosecutions was a Jamaican, while the DPP was Guyanese.
    Please don’t muddy the waters of the real issue, which is still one of illegal immigration, not simply hating or disliking someone from another country for hating or disliking them sake.
    Let’s have a little less spin and emotion please. Let common sense prevail.

  5. amusing

    Common sense prevail ? wholoss.. how many illegals are there ? no number yet .. because no one has a clue and for the clueless the taller the tale ..better. we don’t have a CJ and you worried about the DPP. you should tell Tony Best to stop writing about we people achievments in North America.. as according to your version of common sense, they ain’t belong dey

  6. Visitor 1

    @amusing: I do not condone Barbadians living illegally in the United States, United Kingdom or United Arab Emirates either. Illegal immigration is illegal immigration, whether it is Bajans doing it or Guyanese or Chinese in another person’s country. The ends to not justify the means…don’t be ridiculous.
    Anyone who leaves their own country, however maliciously intended or well intended, knowing that they intend to overstay their time in another country with no clear plan of what comes next other than to forage for work wherever it comes should suffer the consequences of whatever the laws of that country say the penalty should be – whether deportation or otherwise.
    Barbados has nothing to be ashamed of for enforcing its laws.
    ALL non-national who come here through the correct and proper channels are welcome to live and work here without any issues and we have embraced them for decades as our own. However, I will never condone illegal immigration from anyone, especially when political jokers inflame the issue with emotion to help bolster their popularity.
    Just take a casual browse of our court pages; it seems every week now illegal immigrants are increasingly trying to maintain a living with the downturn in the economy and the scarcity of jobs, by being forced to steal to survive.
    That is no better for them than it is for any country to try to maintain law and order. Your suggestion about numbers is also a non-issue. It is almost impossible to estimate the numbers now – but there is no tale here. I have been to every parish in Barbados and the story is the same – illegal immigrants are here in large numbers and what is unfortunate is that some Barbadians are hiding them from immigration officers only to exploit them by charging them exorbitant rents or exploiting them otherwise. I don’t condone that either. The best way to break the cycle, or at least nip it in the bud is to continue to enforce our laws, regardless of the emotional drivel that comes coated in a flag of so-called Caribbean unity and the never to be realised CSME.

  7. amusing

    Help me Rhonda.. help me..
    the article speaks nothing of illegal immigration and enforcement but one of intertwining genealogy and social history.. bfp may have indulge a wee bit with its heading. So you don’t need check into every parish.. save your nikes and gas.
    “ALL non-national who come here through the correct and proper channels are welcome to live and work here without any issues and we have embraced them for decades as our own”..your words… so why are you bitching about the nationality of the DPP and the head of the QEH..
    we want and we don’t want.. illegals have no place here but it is people like you who hide your prejudices behind the call for immigration reform and make it difficult for “common sense”

  8. Jay

    The blind leading the ignorant….say it cannot be so ?What a farce of an argument

    Bajans did NOT emigrate to “Guyana”.They did so to “BRITISH GUIANA”.The current governance of Guyana had nothing to do with its past success…..but simply put its retrogression.Enforcing the law IS common sense and that includes removal of non-nationals if they have overstayed their time or illegally present in Barbados

  9. amusing

    what is a farce is when comics suddenly pull from their backsides an argument that somehow Guyana is not the same country that our forefathers went to to earn a living that was hard to come by here, because it was a British colony back then. Was it the British that gave them jobs or did they earn a living off the land ? Better figure out who helped who .and it may not be as lily white as we , Eurocentrics , would wish for .And Jay, a country is its people not its government. Barbados is not D or B , it is Bajans . So you don’t like the government of Guyana .. cool , cause neither do i but to extrapolate that on the people exposes the trickery and bias that undermines a well thought out immigration policy that encourages and discourages to our benefit. that is common sense.. enforcement is the means of keeping that policy in equilibrium.

  10. just want to know

    It always amazes me with Barbadians, who have immigrated all over the world, some legally, some not so legal but find others who come to these shores as nuisances. When Guyana was doing so well in the thirties & forties , so many Bajans were immigrating there to find work, now they are having a difficult time we do not want some of our brothers & sisters here. Wake up Bajans what goes around comes around. Think about England, Canada & good old USA, do you think if all these Bajans come home you will have room for them, and think about the money they send to your families to keep you living the life of luxury while they travel through snow, heat, rain to keep you.

  11. Visitor 1

    @Just Want To Know: Oh boo hoo cry me a river. Check the earlier posts – those Barbadians who went wherever else in the world in the 30s, 40s, 50 and 60s – even those who have gone since. If they were found to be living illegally by authorities there they deserved to be deported. Wrong is wrong. If some of them sought to eventually regularise their status good for them.
    Believe it or not it’s actually much easier to send a little money home when you actually have status of some kind in the country where you have chosen to live. I refuse to let people like you force Bajans to feel like we are superior or are being holier than thou or arrogant just because we choose to enforce our immigration laws.
    This little rock of 166 square miles is not rich in natural resources of any kind except its people and I laud successive Government’s for generally good stewardship in helping us to make the most of what we have.
    Right now every body in Barbados is feeling the pinch of the world economic downturn so I guess you must be happy because right now we are getting what has “come around” as you put it and you know what? Our public services can only take so much strain. The Health minister put it all in perspective when he spoke about bold faced scams by people who fly in here pregnant and demanding medical treatment from around the region – as a “smart” way of getting to stay here.
    You like so many others are missing the point badly – ANYONE, whether Guyanese or Chinese who comes here through legal means and wants to live and work is welcome to do so – persons who try to trick and hide from immigration officials are not welcome – it;s quite a simple equation really. Catch a clue!
    @Amusing: While the article in question does indeed reference historical linkages between Barbados and Guyana the not so subtle intent is to help remind we “uppity Bajans” that we once depended on Guyana. And you know what I say well done to our foreparents and to those who assisted in that effort in Guyana. Well done – now snap back to reality – this is an immigration issue not a history lesson, no matter how well compiled and researched. Leave the emotion and walks down memory lane for light reading on a lazy Sunday afternoon for some youngster in Guyana or Bridgetown. In the mean time I support this Government, the Government of Guyana or indeed any other country where basic border security in this crazy day and age is ever so critical.

  12. amusing

    @visitor 1… speaking of light reading on a lazy Sunday afternoon, you should read last Sunday’s Nation, and you would have discover an ad (or notice) by the Hilton for an application for a non bajan in the post of food and Beverage manager .yes .. this issue again.. this tells us everything that is wrong with the immigration debate.. plenty pretense and posturing ( border security, the kind of words that would drive fear into everyone one ) and no real substance ( why a multinational company can’t find a suitable person or just saying so to manipulate the rules). The latter is the dangerous one for us with very serious implications. Is it an indictment on a education policy that has not turned out qualified candidates or is our work ethic so poor that we dont cut the grade anymore or is it that investors feel that they can do whatever in this land.
    As you have brought up health costs ,now i wonder if there are statictics on tax and nis compliances vis a vis locals and foreigners in this country.. but i see revenue department has been hauling some very prominent locals to court, the Minister of Finance has stated VAT owed and Minister Sukhoo lamenting lack NIS compliance among self employed.. yes 2 wrongs dont make a right, but where is our shame ? aren’t we 1st in the developing world or scamming by illegals more serious than scamming by us. BTW there many Bajan Canadian living here ,out of Canada for more than 6 months, illegally accessing free Canadian health care

  13. Well Well

    With all the talk about immigration legal and otherwise, the way things are going in Bim right now, bajans will soon have toimmigrate to survive, legal and otherwise