What Is Ethnicity And The Issues Faced By Guyanese People?

1155 words - 5 pages

What is ethnicity and the issues faced by Guyanese people?In this part of our essay, we will try to define ethnicity and the struggle for the conquest of power faced by the different ethnic groups. First, we will propose a definition of ethnicity in order to make the reader more at-ease with the concept of ethnicity and understand better the particularities of Guyana and the issues faced by Guyanese people.An ethnic group or ethnicity is a population of human beings whose members identify with each other, on the basis of a real or a presumed common genealogy or ancestry, culture, language and any other social aspect of their life.Guyana's society historically always have had a heterogeneous population due to the different colonization ( Dutch and then British) and triangular trade started by the Dutch in 1660s which brought African slaves in Guyana. Finally, Indians were brought by the British during the 19th century to work in the plantation. Nowadays, according to the latest Guyana's census in 2002 exist four major ethnic groups: Amerindians (original people from Guyana), Afro-Guyanese, Indo-Guyanese and the White. Professors Bissessar and La Guerre in their book Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana: Race and Politics in two plural societies define Chinese and Portuguese ethnic groups' role and contribution as important for Guyana as well.The first issue Guyana had to face concerning ethnicity was the fact that each ethnic group was playing a specific role in the economy of the country under the Dutch administration which went along after under British rule. The separation was known as so:The Europeans were representing the master class and occupying the highest social position of the society such as plantation owners, traders, administration employees, they were the most educated ethnic group and therefore were considered more capable of exercising those professionsThe Africans constituted the servile class and were assigned to field labour, domestic positions, artisans and factory hands. The characteristic of domination was really important in the Afro-European relationFinally the Amerindians occupied an anomalous position between the two extremes as Thompson said.Under the British rule put in place in 1831 some changes occurred which facilitated a redefinition of the role and status: with the Unification came along a democratisation of the panel of voters, owning twenty-five slaves was not required anymore to be part of the voters but having incomes over one hundred and forty three pounds. This change marks the beginning of the non-white ethnic groups in the political life of Guyana as only the Whites were slave owners. Moreover, in 1833 slavery is officially abolished in the country. Political life in Guyana is not ruled by ethnicity anymore but is ruled by money. However, it is important to note that East Indians stayed a low-politicized class during 1831-1928 period's which saw the emergence of coloured people association that had diversified...

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