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(By Alex Wayne)It’s a unique little village that holds an interesting historical background. Over the years however, it has evolved from an undeveloped community where inhabitants were struggling to meet the necessities of life, to a now modern village with high potential for economic and ultimate social development.Poultry farmer, Shawn Baynes (closest to camera) and an employee tend to one of his many pigs.Victoria Village, located on the Atlantic coast of Guyana, some 18 miles east of Georgetown,Cheap Jerseys China, was the first village in Guyana bought by the combined resources of Africans who had recently won their freedom from slavery.The community was initially established as a plantation called Northbrook, in November 1839. Eighty-three ex-slaves from five nearby estates (Douchfour, Ann’s Grove, Hope, Paradise and Enmore) pooled their resources and bought Plantation Northbrook for 30,000 guilders or $10,Cheap Jerseys USA,283.63. Each of the 83 owned one plot of land. After its purchase the village was renamed Victoria, presumably in honour of England’s Queen Victoria, although some suggest it may have been named as such in honour of the freed slaves’ victory.It is credited with one of the first codes of local government in Guyana, established in 1845. The village grew up to become one of the leading exporters of products made from coconuts and cassava.The first church built there, a Congregational church, named after Wilberforce, the abolitionist, was erected in 1845. A memorial tablet was placed in the church honoring William Africa Baptiste, known as ‘Boss Africa’, who became accepted as the Father of the village. Baptiste, who died in 1881, was the first village schoolmaster.This historical masterpiece has always been prided by villagers who are now lamenting the fact that its traditional wooden and shingle structure was torn down several years ago by a former village council that promised to have it refurbished in concrete.This, sadly, did not materialize, and all that stands, as a reminder of this once much prized monument, is a very incomplete concrete structure that has been ignored for years.In May 1845, six years after the village was purchased, the owners agreed to a number of regulations for the proper management of the estate, which is among the first attempts at a code of Local Government in Guyana.The people in the village showed a great desire for church worship and used to travel as far as Le Ressouvenir, 11 miles to the west, to attend services conducted by the Reverend John Smith. At the same time, some of them were also taught to read and write.The keen desire for church worship resulted in the construction of church buildings. The first church was built by the Congregationalists in 1845 and named Wilberforce, after abolitionist who was prominent among those striving for the liberation of slaves.Other churches followed suit and soon the Wesleyans, Plymouth Brethren, Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist and Anglicans were numbered among those functional.‘Boss Africa’, despite his literary limitations, was the first schoolmaster of the village when he was appointed to the Wilberforce church that conducted school in the building with a government-aided programme.He eventually passed away in 1881 at the age of 92 and is immortalized by a tablet in his memory in the Wilberforce Church.The cultural standards of the village improved,Cheap NFL Jerseys China Stitched, chiefly influenced by the churches and the schools. Associations were formed with the aim of holding debates and suppressing indulgence in alcohol. The Cove and John sugar plantation and Belfield coconut estates boosted employment and thus,Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping, the economy.A fishing industry was started by the group and the catch brought to the village through the canal dividing Victoria from Cove and John.Victoria Village earned the reputation of being a most peaceful place in which to live.And it had a right to be peaceful because enshrined in its articles of understanding were a host of do’s and don’ts which no doubt led to the enormous moral success of the village. The committee of management, which was soon founded, did not only plan the development of the village, but also looked over the works carried out by residents who were the shareholders.Such measures implemented by the overseers were sometimes said to be harsher than that on the estates, but it had the desired effect. All shareholders and their families had to work their plots and certain crops had to be planted so that the village would have enough food.Each habitat was required to cooperate in cleaning and digging trenches to drain the land. They were also asked to construct dams and roads and to repair them when it became necessary.Discipline seems to have always been the watchword in the village, and strict adherence was attached to the upkeep of the brand instituted by the committee. There was to be no fighting, no swearing, no cursing or gambling. Drunkenness was abhorred. No strangers were allowed into the village.The attendance at church services on Sundays was made part of the curriculum of activities and played an important role in the spiritual upkeep of the inhabitants. Anyone found committing these calumnies was required to pay a fine of one schilling (24 cents)On the education front, it was compulsory that every child of age attend school regularly and punctually for the village leaders saw the importance of an education not only in its necessity to the longevity of the village, but also as a tool if and whenever the inhabitants might be called upon to venture out into the wider society.Today, things have changed dramatically in the village and of course have affected villagers in various ways.Whilst farming in the backlands was once one of the main means of survival for villagers this practice has dwindled dramatically due to the lack of proper drainage and irrigation.Small gardens still remain alongside the parapet of the Bellback ingress and access road. This is a welcoming sight, but that in itself poses its own problems. Actually because of these same makeshift vegetable gardens villagers are complaining of severe losses of poultry since the owners of these gardens have began poisoning the animals whenever they wander into the gardens.Some angry poultry rearers are contemplating destroying the gardens if nothing is done about this new episode. A visit to the Bellback Road revealed that the supposed gardens were not properly secured and some were indeed a mangled assortment of coconut staves and wire, leaving large spaces that allowed cattle, sheep and goats to gain entry.The poultry farmers are pleading with these garden owners to properly secure these plots, since it may result in physical confrontation between the two parties.Insufficient water supply is experienced by some sections of the village and this happens mostly in the ‘backdam area’ of Victoria. According to villagers, persons residing close to the public road access a constant supply of water while those beyond the railway embankment are subjected to on and off spells with no proper explanation for its cause.Drainage and irrigation is indeed a major problem in the village and this can be confirmed by the extensive flooding that occurs during the rainy season.A new crime wave in the form of repeated rapes is sweeping the East Coast and more than one case has been reported in the villages of Golden Grove and Haslington. One case so far has been reported in Victoria and this has plunged sections of the village into intense fear. Villagers are pleading with the necessary authorities to install streetlights along the road providing access into the village, since this may offer some added form of security for villagers.However they are thankful for the Vigilante Policing Groups that patrol the village at night, bring solace to many.There is no scope for employment in the village and while a few still struggle with their farming, some sell brooms in the city, while the majority of the male population is satisfied to simply laze around by day. This is evident in the number of idlers who hang around the Upper Level Barber Shop on the public road, line the roadways or sit for hours in the Catholic Church compound, verbally tormenting sundry villagers as they go about their business.Three small grocery shops supply the needs of the many housewives and the lone cemetery is in dire need of cleaning.Many may not know, but Victoria Village is the home of two of Guyana’s most popular masquerades bands. The renowned Joker is Wild band led by Adrian Waldron was created in Victoria and has taken most of the top titles over the years at the annual Mashramani competitions.At present, there is a division in this band and the relatively new Caribbean Warriors has been born. This year it took most of the top titles at the Mash competitions.Entertainment is on the rise in the village and several promoting agencies have emerged bring much frolic and fun for villagers.May fairs are most popular in this village as well as the annual village pageant, which has sparked much controversy after the judges’ decision is announced.Besides the Night Ryder Fish Shop and Bar on the public road, there is the very ‘alcove of sizzling entertainment’ as is seen in its many weekend ventures,Cheap NHL Jerseys, well attended by villagers.Entertainment may soon escalate further since popular Barbados-based promoter, Shawn Baynes, has returned to focus entirely on promoting entertainment activities reeking of the high-class glamour and entertainment allure he always brings to the platter.At present he is engaged in rearing of cattle, pigs and poultry, which is a means of survival rapidly being adopted by many villagers.Some villagers are of the opinion that since Victoria has such a rich and intriguing historical background, it should be refurbished and used as a tourist attraction for overseas visitors.
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