Mabaruma: Amerindian Heritage Village 2004
Guyana Chronicle
August 18, 2004

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The North West District (NWD), as it is normally called, has been one of the latest targets for potential tourism development in Guyana.

With its hospitable people, interesting history, and myriad features, Region One (Barima/Waini) has the inherent capability to attract people and investment.

On September 10, this year, Amerindians and other Guyanese are expected to assemble in the Mabaruma Settlement to celebrate Amerindian Heritage Day.

Mabaruma Settlement was selected as the Heritage Village this year because of its historical significance.

Amerindian Affairs Minister Ms Carolyn Rodrigues has pointed out that her Ministry is seeking to highlight villages in the four main hinterland Regions (i.e One, Seven, Eight and Nine) in which Amerindians live.

Mabaruma is one of the first communities in which Amerindians settled. During the Spanish War of the 18th century, many Amerindian settlements were uprooted. The Dutch, who occupied the country, did nothing to prevent the Spanish raids. In 1890, the British proclaimed the North West District as a British possession. This was followed by a Christian crusade and many Amerindians were converted into Christianity.

There is also a high population of Amerindians. The Mabaruma Sub-District's population is approximately 8,000. It has a geographic area of 3,000 square miles.

Over the years, Mabaruma has evolved into a developed community. It can be considered the ‘city' for the Barima/Waini Region.

To a large extent, the PPP/C Government has prepared it for development. It is also a potential zone for tourism.

The community's basic infrastructures have been significantly boosted over the years.

Like most interior Regions, communication and transportation are perhaps the two most important services for residents of Barima/Waini. This is because the area is a riverain community.

However, transportation to the NWD is more reliable today. Mabaruma is accessible via air services, and overland. Trans Guyana Airways Limited (TGL) has scheduled flights to that destination every week. In addition, the steamer operated by the Transport and Harbours Department (TH&D), provides services on a fortnightly basis to persons wishing to travel to NWD.

The more adventurous visitors may sail along the Essequibo Coast, into the Pomeroon River, the Moruca River, into the Waini River, Morawhanna, and unto Mabaruma.

There is a reliable service of speedboats operating from Charity, almost on a daily basis into Moruca at reasonable costs. Previously, passengers could only travel on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays and, occasionally, on Fridays.

At Mabaruma, there are reliable public utilities. In addition, there are a number of artesian wells in the community to provide potable water.

A few years ago, the Canada-based Queen's Project of International Development, assisted the Mabaruma Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) to complete its water project.

Visitors also have access to telephones and the Internet to keep in touch with their families back home.

There are 38 villages in this Sub-Region. Villages in the immediate Mabaruma environs are, Barabina, Mabaruma Township, Mabaruma Settlement, Hobo, Kumaka, Kobeoreimo, Hosororo, Bumbury Hill, Wanaina, Wauna Central, Lebanon, White Water, and Kamwatta.

These villages can all be accessed by road from the Mabaruma Compound, which is the centre of the Mabaruma area, where all the administrative activities take place. The Mabaruma Compound is noted for its cleanliness and white-washed rubber tree-lined avenue.

Residents believe that the most breath-taking panoramic view on a clear day is at Wanaina, where there are cloud-capped mountains against azure skies, rolling hills, meandering silver-streaked rivers and lush green valleys.

There are bus services to and from some of the nearby villages such as Hosororo, which is famous for its organic cocoa production and strong Catholic following. Here the Sisters of Mercy founded the school and the Catholic community years ago.

The convent was, however, closed in the early 1970s.

Life in Mabaruma is not as slow as in some hinterland communities. Residents depend mainly on agriculture for their economic livelihoods.

The health care services in the community are adequate to cater for the basic medical needs of the community. The hospital will soon be reconstructed to expand its services.

Meanwhile, since the Region is perceived as a malaria district, the Ministry of Health is testing a new anti-malaria drug there. However, it should be noted that there has not been any significant increases in malaria infection in recent years in the hinterland.

Of the 57 schools in Region One, 31 are in the Mabaruma Sub.District. Until recently, the only Secondary school was at Mabaruma.

There is also an active Community Library and Resource Centre in the middle of the District that can be readily accessed.

Mabaruma, which was originally named “Shiba”, (an Arawak word meaning place of rocks) is well known for football.

Mabaruma is a Carib word that means “my grater”.

A Regional team sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport was the first from the hinterland to compete in the Kashif and Shanghai games in 1999. Several of its players are now in national teams.

It also has the largest sports ground in the Region.

There is a Regional Guest House and a privately owned guest house (Broomes Hill) that provide accommodation for visitors.

Among some of the interesting sites in this part of the Region are the Kissing Rocks at Mabaruma and Skull Point and Tiger-Cave at Wauna. Wauna is also well-known for its oil palms and scenic attractions. However, the Region's untapped oil reserve is at Iron Point.

It extends from Pointa Player in the North West to Koriabo Village in the South, the Imataka Mountain range in the West, and Moraibo Creek in the East. (Government Information Agency - GINA)