Image from The Guyana Chronicle
Crabwood Creek is a small village in Berbice, Guyana. Its name comes from the major overgrowth of “crabwood” trees on the creek. Crabwood Creek is also located on the Corentyne River-- the longest river in Guyana that serves as the border between Suriname. Thus, its proximity to Guyana’s border facilitates trade and travel with nearby Suriname.
The early inhabitants were mainly retired indentured labourers from the Skeldon Sugar Estate, who were never able to return back to India. The British likely granted the land to encourage settlement and reduce costs associated with transporting workers back to India. The villagers used local wood to construct houses and for fireside kitchens. They also constructed their own roads prior to the government’s reconstruction.
Crabwood Creek’s employment revolved around timber, rice, and sugar. Crabwood Creek became a valued village during a Caribbean food shortage in World War II. The colonial government relied on the village to supply rice and other agricultural necessities for the region.
Many descendants of the original inhabitants, like much of Guyana, have since emigrated to the United States and the United Kingdom. That accounts for countless abandoned homes and lots in the area. Nevertheless, between 5,000-10,000 still call the historic village home. The current residents have adapted to economic trade opportunities while still preserving many cultural characteristics that originated in India and evolved in Guyana.
The physical presence in Crabwood Creek may be decreasing but its legacy continues to grow. Descendants of Crabwood Creek village have made lasting impacts in Guyana and abroad as engineers, business owners, pharmacists, and painters (among many other successes). Crabwood Creek is another example of the resilience and worth of Indian indentured servants and their descendants.
Research assistance provided by Darshani Bacchus.
Crabwood Creek - Guyana geography stubs. 2020
Mohammad Abdur Rauf. 1974. Indian Village in Guyana A Study of Cultural Change and Ethnic Identity.
Shabna Ullah. 2012. Crabwood Creek The world beyond Georgetown. Stabroek News.
Rauf, M. A. (1974). Indian Village in Guyana: A Study of Cultural Change and Ethnic Identity. Netherlands: Brill. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Indian_Village_in_Guyana/T-UUAAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=crabwood%20creek
Shabna Ullah. 2012. Crabwood Creek The world beyond Georgetown. Stabroek News. https://www.stabroeknews.com/2012/07/08/features/crabwood-creek/
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