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Fort Canje near New Amsterdam

Fort Canje

The cursed fort. This is Fort Canje near New Amsterdam (Guyana). It was here that the Dutch tortured and executed the rebels after the great slave revolt of 1763.

It was always a sickly piece of land. Even now, few people live out here, on the swamps formed at the confluence of the Berbice and the Canje. The clay is always weeping oily water, and the air is itchy with mosquitoes. I remember thinking how fat and glossy they looked, as they settled on my jeans. This must have been a joyless posting for the Dutch. I could just make out their earthworks, bounding a plot in the crook of the rivers. There was no view beyond, just an enormous burning sky and a fringe of thick mangrove. At some stage, the fort had failed altogether, leaving only the occasional outcrop of brick. Later, the British had replaced it with another sad building: the Berbice Mental Hospital (which is there today).

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