Emancipation Day Message from His Excellency, President Donald Ramotar
I extend hearty greetings to all Guyanese on the occasion of Emancipation Day, 2012. This day which is also popularly known as Freedom Day marks the anniversary of that very first Emancipation Day, August 1st, 1834 when the heinous system of slavery was outlawed in the British West Indian colonies.
While Emancipation did not end exploitation, it ended that barbaric system of slavery in which millions of persons were transported against their will to foreign lands and made to toil unremittingly without reward or recognition.
That such a system could not endure forever was never in doubt. The abolition of slavery represented a victory for the African people who stoutly resisted the horrors of that system. But it was also a victory for all those who were to be later brought to our shores. These future immigrants, while having to work under arduous conditions, could not lawfully be subject to enslavement.
Today on this the anniversary of the abolition of slavery, I pay tribute to our African ancestors for their unrelenting resistance, amongst which was the 1763 uprising in Guyana. I pay tribute also to the resolve of our African ancestors who after the abolition of slavery were instrumental in the development of our village movement against great odds.
Emancipation was the most important break in the chain of bondage, the first step towards Independence and towards the goal of nation- building. It offered the opportunity of the freed to demonstrate that they were capable of making a success of their liberation, and one of the ways in which this was demonstrated was by the creation of the village movement.
The village movement crystallized by our African ancestors remains even today an important vehicle for the empowerment and upliftment of all Guyanese. This movement remains one of the great achievements of the freed Africans. We should take pride in this achievement and work together – all of us – to ensure that this enduring institution is preserved and nurtured so as to contribute to the continuing development of all Guyanese.
Our villages remain signposts of our history. We have been shaped by that history. Guyana is today a multi ethnic and multicultural society because of that very first Emancipation. Let us all commit to preserving and keeping intact our unique social tapestry by respecting and celebrating our diversity as a nation of free peoples living cohesively in this great land that we call our home.