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|29.3% of Guyana's population (2012)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Guyana (Georgetown, Essequibo Coast)|
United Kingdom, Canada, United States
|English, Guyanese Creole|
|Christianity, Islam, the Rastafari movement, Obeah|
After the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, Afro-Guyanese people came together to develop small villages. They were not given land to compensate for their labor, unlike future immigrant groups. When planters made land or passage home available to East Indians as part of the terms of indentured labour in the late 19th century, given that they had denied land to the Africans as emancipated slaves several decades earlier, it created tension among the ethnic groups.
By the early twentieth century, the majority of the urban population of the country was Afro-Guyanese. Many Afro-Guyanese people living in villages had migrated to the towns in search of work. Until the 1930s, Afro-Guyanese people, especially those of mixed descent, comprised the bulk of the non-white professional class. During the 1930s, as Indo-Guyanese began to enter the middle class in large numbers, they began to compete with Afro-Guyanese 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. Later many East Indian immigrants arrived as indentured, and would later grow into a thriving and competitive class.
Notable Afro-Guyanese peopleEdit
- Akara, leader of the Berbice slave rebellion at Plantation Lilienburg
- John Agard, playwright, poet and children's writer
- Clifford Anderson, former British Empire featherweight contender
- Forbes Burnham, President of Guyana, 1980–1985
- Basil Butcher, former Guyanese and West Indian Cricketer
- 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
- Karen de Souza (born 1958), women and children's activist
- 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
- David A. Granger, President of Guyana
- Eddy Grant, popular musician
- Roger Harper, Guyanese and West Indian Cricketer - former Kenyan cricket coach
- Ram John Holder, actor and musician
- 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
- 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.
- Alana Shipp - American/Israeli IFBB professional bodybuilder
- 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
- Ivan Gladstone Van Sertima, associate professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University in the United States.
Notable people of Afro-Guyanese descentEdit
- Red Cafe, Brooklyn rapper.
- Deborah Cox, Canadian R&B singer-songwriter with longest-running #1 R&B track on charts
- 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
- Sonnet L'Abbé, Canadian writer
- Leona Lewis, First X Factor Winner with a Guyanese father.
- Jermain Jackman, The Voice UK 2015 winner
- 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
- Ashley Walters, London based actor, rapper and musician
- Wretch 32, British rapper with a Guyanese mother
- Leticia Wright, actress best known for her role as Shuri in Marvel's 2018 blockbuster, Black Panther.
- Roy Woods, Canadian R&B artist signed to Drake's October's Very Own recording label.