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Was Guyana Better Under British Rule?

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This photo was taken from the Facebook Group, BG – a great group for seeing and sharing photos, videos, and stories of colonial times in Guyana.

First Published: 27th of May, 2018

Last updated: August 14, 2023 at 22:07 pm

Opinions will vary widely on this matter. Was Guyana better under British Rule? And should we have stayed that way? Some would say “yes,” some would say “no,” some would say “absolutely,” and some would say “sort of.” And the list goes on.

But what’s really the truth? Does rebellion really pay off? And can we compare our rebellion with that of the United States against the British Empire? What did the United States really gain from Independence from Great Britain? I mean, besides the mega-theater “Hollywood.” And would Hollywood not have been better if the United States were still a British Colony?

What was life in Guyana like under British rule? I’ve heard many stories. And I’ll sum it up here.

  1. You’d go to the market with just one cent, buy all you want, and still have “change.”
  2. Cane cutters would be home playing music, drinking and making merry under their houses by 10:00 A.M.
  3. Free education for all.
  4. Impenetrable national security provided by the Royal Forces.
  5. Visa free travel to England and Canada.
  6. Better health care.
  7. Better management of the economy.
  8. Opportunities for upward socio-economic mobility

So what did we as Guyanese really fight for, and why do we so proudly celebrate Independence on the 26th of May each year? While I’m not putting down the sacrifices of our forefathers nor the hard work of famous politicians such as Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham, I’m still asking myself, “what are we really free from?”

On the 28th of December, 2021, Team Guyana, South America asked the following question on the Guyana, South America Facebook Page.

Poll: Was Guyana better under British rule? If you are one of the few surviving persons who lived through both colonial and post-colonial times, please give your opinion and experiences in the comments below.

We received the following response:

Shanti Mathews: The British looked after the animals properly and under them there was less crime, and Georgetown was the garden city of the Caribbean. Successive Guyanese Governments have raped the country and made it much much worse then when it was under the British. It’s very very sad. They have betrayed their own people, busy lining their own pockets and whipping up race hate. They’re awful examples of leadership.

Ivor Cummings: Colonial rule was far better than what we have now.

Judith Smith: My grandmother used to say the country was cleaner. No garbage like now.

Den Med: Colonial rule was better than what was experience under the PNC Leadership. PNC put Guyana through Poverty, Hunger and Starvation. Long lines for basic items like Kero and Fry Oil. Jail time for eating BREAD, Butter , Cheese, other food items and most importantly, Bankruptcy of the Economy, after controlling 90% of the Economy, so much more , a Book is needed to describe the PNC Racist Political Organizations.

Richard Dass: Guyana was better off under the British rule. Everything went downhill after independence.

Red Mann: Yes

Fazal Ali: Remember under PNC, WE had wedding and my mother bring flour and potatoes from Trinidad and we had to hide it top of the tallest coconut tree in my neighbor yard.

Ulah Samaroo: Burnham rules the custom throw all them Berbice black people bread over board and seize all the peas, flour etc. Guyanese under the PNC suffers a lot . On to now Guyana can’t move forward children couldn’t take snacks to school more and more I can go on and on. Soldiers had bayonet boring people on the Essequibo coast people had to jump in trench to save themselves my husband was a teacher and couldn’t go to school OMG so much more so many waste years of people lives wasn’t easy.

Ulah Samaroo: PNC destroy Guyana many years. PPP always rescue the country PNC always pulling backwards years and years and years they have that country poor on to now shame on the people who siding with them and the wrong things they’re doing to Guyana. I think Guyanese suffers a lot because of the PNC.time for them to stop the girls said they did their job meaning they break up parliament.

Ng-Yuen Liu: Great topic.

Bernadette G De Souza: Yes it was!

Joyce Gibbs: I think it was better.

Charlie Greg: We still under colonial rule! Only they use our own kind to downpress us!

Jean Deen: WAS BETTER.

(See Post on Facebook)

As you can see from the responses above, almost 100% of the responses were positive in favor of the British rule.

So, are you one of the few remaining Guyanese who have lived through British colonial rule in Guyana, or have heard stories from your parents? If so, tell us in the comments below!

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