Increasingly anxious and upset that no ship had reached British Guiana (B.G) to ferry them back to India as promised, the restive indentured immigrants refused to accept weekly food provisions, and downed tools. Fearing that if they continued working it could be misinterpreted as a renewal of their five year-contracts, groups of desperate men would besiege the Governor and other officials into the new year 1843, protesting the hold-up and begging to be repatriated.
Weeks before, Governor Henry Light had warned, “Any delay in sending out vessels for the conveyance of the Coolies to India will have a bad effect on their minds, will excite their suspicions of want of good faith, and will probably lead to their passive resistance, by refusing to work; so that the proprietors of the estates will have to feed and pay without return.”
In a despatch to Colonial Secretary, Lord Stanley on November 30, 1842, Light declined to visit the Berbice plantations Highbury and Waterloo to brief the labourers as desired by the absentee proprietor Henry Davidson, another wealthy West India merchant and heavily compensated former slave owner. Citing the “great delay in the formation of the Court of Policy,” Light argued “it will be very injurious to the public service, if any further delay should be occasioned by my departure to Berbice, on an affair which it must be well known to the parties interested will produce no satisfactory result to them.”….