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Payback project born from Highland slavery links forges new connections with Caribbean

By Hector MacKenzie

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David Alston and Dr Ross
David Alston and Dr Ross

NEW links are being forged between a Ross community and a Caribbean country once exploited by Highland plantation owners.

Dr David Alston has been researching the role of Highland landowners and merchants in slave-run plantations in the West Indies and in Guyana and Surinam.

Cromarty families the Barklys and the Davidsons of Tulloch were among many Highland plantation owners in the early 19th century, and their legacy is evident in the Guyana villages of Cromarty and Nigg, which Dr Alston visited in February.

Following a talk given by Dr Alston to the Cromarty Peace Group it was agreed that some reparation should be made for the exploitation of enslaved Africans and their descendants, and the group is now raising money to support a project to help children in the town of New Amsterdam – only a few miles from Cromarty and Nigg in Guyana.

Nigg: A place name familiar in Ross-shire.
Nigg: A place name familiar in Ross-shire.

All Saints Presbyterian (Scots) Church in New Amsterdam is 200 years old. They run a centre called Little Angels which provides child care, a development centre which provides training for young people, and they also work with the nearby prison.

Next year they plan to provide free lunches for more than 50 children in the local primary school, who without this support may not continue in education. The programme will be run by the charity Food for the Poor (Guyana).

To make this possible the church needs to refurbish the kitchen in their development centre – a 140-year old wooden building next to their wooden church. The cost of this is likely to be between £5000 and £6000.

David Alston at Cromarty in Guyana.
David Alston at Cromarty in Guyana.

Cromarty Peace Group is liaising with Rev. Dr. Selby Ross, minister of All Saints, and has launched a crowdfunding appeal to support the project which has already raised more than £2000.

David Alston said: “I visited All Saints Presbyterian Church in February with my colleague, Michael Hopcroft, and we were received with great warmth and hospitality. We were their only link with Scotland in this the year of their 200th anniversary. With this fund-raising we can help them to help their own community – and create a positive link for the future with this part of Scotland.”

The crowdfunder appeal is at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/cromarty-guyana

Related: Legacy of slave owner's daughter inspires Fortrose Academy penmanship competition

Shame of Ross-shire slavery links revealed in new documentary

Ross-shire's slavery secrets to hit the bookshelves

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