One of the outlying, obscure little districts, not so much obscure today as it used to be, but a district in which people never took seriously their true county standing, is Mafeking, which adjoins the village of Mayaro on its western side. Mafeking took shape when wardens were growing active in the untouched eastern areas of the country. The name “Mafeking” was given to this area of roughly four square miles just around 1900. The Boer War in South Africa was raging then, and there was great excitement in Trinidad when in the move for Cape Town Mafeking was taken by the British.
Lying, as it does, just across the River Ortoire the people of Mafeking depended on Mayaro for everything, for it was Mayaro, the “town” as it were, that had whatever little commerce the area disposed of. But the Ortoire River is the western boundary of County Mayaro and so Mafeking, on the bank of the river, is at the eastern end of County Nariva. Yet the majority of people in Mafeking and Mayaro, who have not looked at the geography of the places, regard Mafeking as a part of County Mayaro mainly because their children attended its schools and they themselves see the shops and stores as their own. Fortunately, for the purpose of administration (the payment of rates and taxes, et cetera) the regional authority is the same – the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation.
Mafeking, like everywhere else in Trinidad, has grown and has become a very different-looking place from what it used to be in the old days. Here, there are no new roads of any consequence that shoot off the essential Mafeking, which is along the Naparima-Mayaro Road, although, along the mile-and-a-half strip there are some splendid, modern, and very beautiful houses, a far cry from what one would have seen in the 1940s. At about the middle of the mile-and-a-half strip, forming a T-junction and running off to the north, is what is known as Mafeking Road, and this road, now with some elegant houses and not like it used to be with just a few shacks, veers to the west towards open high woods, while at the curve, a branch of it turns easterly towards the village of Ortoire. Ortoire Village lies at the mouth of the River Ortoire and beside the coast, but it is in this section that Mafeking is developing most, where the river Ortoire forms a common border between what might be called Inner Mafeking and Ortoire Village. In this area there are a few new buildings on lands that previously got waterlogged and swampy in the rainy season.
But back to the essential Mafeking: one of the most prominent families in this district are the descendants of a man noted for raising the most industrious, numerous, and high-profile children in that section of Trinidad. He is Peter Duncan Campbell, who came to this area in 1920 as overseer on an estate called Nava. He was then a young man of only 22 and he had returned from World War I to which he had gone while still a teenager. He set up his house not too far from Nava Estate, just about midway between the estate and the Mafeking Road junction. He was a white Trinidadian, presumably of Scottish parentage, and he married Annie, a black woman of Mayaro. They produced seven children, and the family has distinguished itself in the economic life at Mayaro. The first Campbell boy, Victor, became prominent in the People’s National Movement government of 1956-1961, in which he was Minister of Works. Just before that he had established a sawmill at Mafeking, a business which, run with a brother, Rupert, made a considerable impact on trade and industry in the region.
Copyright NALIS, 2008