History of plantation slavery in Guyana
Date of first arrival of slaves in Guyana is not exactly known, but it is believed that the first group was brought by Dutch settlers. Many slaves were brought from West Africa in ships belonging to the West India Company. Sometimes slaves were imported through smuggling from the West Indies by British merchants.
Upon arrival of slave ships in Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo were auctions. The planters came from all sides for the purchase of slaves. Slaves for sale were exposed and carefully checked by buyers to determine their health status. Slaves were supposed to jump and wave my arms and legs. They shamelessly treated as dumb animals.
Entire families were sold at auction, but buyers are not worried about family relations of slaves. When selling husbands separated from wives, children from their parents.
On plantations slaves were placed away from home owner. Most of the houses were built for the slaves of old boards, twigs and earth and covered with thatched roofs, earthen floor was, there was no furniture, except for some items that slaves were able to do ourselves.
Although slaves were given daily diet, they grew some vegetables, bananas and root vegetables on small plots, which allowed the use of the owner. However, private farms do slaves could only on Sundays, when there was no work on the plantations. Also on Sunday, slaves could catch fish in rivers, canals and ocean.
Every adult on Sunday received a 1 pound salt cod, which was imported from North America. On Christian holidays were given about a pound of beef or pork, sugar and rum.
Each year the slaves was issued clothing. Men received a woolen jacket, a hat, about 6 yards of cotton and a piece of canvas to make a pair of trousers or two. Women received the same benefits as men, but no children. Children went naked until 9 years old, dressed in an unnecessary or clothing that their parents were able to find or buy.
Working day slaves began before dawn. Reeves drove them into the field. Reeves had been slaves themselves, selected white for the job. One white manager directed all the overseers.
In the fields the slaves worked until 8:00 pm, one hour break at noon. Slaves in the sugar factories were forced to work even more.
For the slaves were invented severe punishments for various offenses.
For example, if a slave struck a white man, he cut off his hands.
The most common punishment was flogging. Porcu-slave overseer produced under the supervision of a white manager. Nothing unusual happened if a slave beaten to death.