Alliance For Change
As Guyanese engage in Emancipation observances this year, the Alliance For Change (AFC) urges all Guyanese to reflect on the true state of our freedom.
The AFC notes that this year the observances fall at a time when Linden is caught up in the throes of mourning for three of their sons, whose lives were snuffed out as the people of Linden demonstrated in a manner synonymous with the rights of free men.
In no democratic society where freedom truly exists would men and women be prevented from exercising and enjoying basic human rights. The respect for and guarantee of human rights is the hallmark of a truly free society. When people have their rights taken away, then they can no longer claim to be free.
In this context, the AFC urges all Guyanese regardless of their race, colour, religion or political affiliation to use this Emancipation Day to stand together as free men and women; send a strong message that the struggles of our foreparents that led to their triumphant victory over bondage will not be trampled upon; and our freedom will not be taken from us – not through bullyism, tyranny or subterfuge.
The deprivation of the human rights of any one group of our people must be the concern of all of us. In as much as our ancestors stood together against colonial bondage and oppression, so too must we stand together as One People as we remind ourselves of our proud legacy eternalised in the words of our National Anthem:
Green land of Guyana, our heroes of yore,
Both bondsmen and free, laid their bones on your shore.
This soil so they hallowed, and from them are we,
All sons of one Mother, Guyana the free.
Great land of Guyana, diverse though our strains,
We’re born of their sacrifice, heirs of their pains,
And ours is the glory their eyes did not see,
One land of six peoples, united and free.
People’s Progressive Party
On the occasion of Emancipation Day 2012, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) salutes Guyanese of African descent in particular and all Guyanese in general. This year 2012 is the 174th anniversary of the Emancipation of African slaves in British Guiana and the PPP takes great pride in celebrating the anniversary.
Throughout these 174 years, citizens of African descent have made remarkable and significant progress in all areas of national development and social achievement. What they achieved to date would have made their ancestors proud with the achievements discernible from those days. It would have been like an impossible dream to those who were oppressed by slavery and exploitation.
Today, our African Guyanese population continues to make invaluable contributions to the progress of our country. This is now being done in the atmosphere of freedom and democracy.
The PPP-Civic is also proud that among the nations of the world, Guyana stands out as a shining example of how a democratic and multi-ethnic society with varying cultural backgrounds can unify to accelerate social and economic development and provide an improvement in living standards.
In any society, there will always be challenges to overcome. What has made us so successful thus far is our ability to rise above all obstacles and work together in the best interest of our nation.
Within this context, the PPP is confident that the problems now confronting us in Region 10 will be amicably resolved. The Party once again expresses deep regret over the fatalities that occurred in the police operation to maintain law and order in the region and the township of Linden.
The PPP also joins with sober minded persons in warning about the “wild men” in that Region who are apparently bent on sowing seeds of dissension and division. Lindeners are urged to resist these “wild men” and to refrain from destroying what they have worked so hard over the past years to build.
Let August 1, 2012 be seen as a day of assessment by all Guyanese to not only measure our successes, but to re-affirm our commitment to working together for the overall benefit of our country.
Working People’s Alliance
The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) salutes the people of Guyana, particularly the African Guyanese community, on the occasion of the 174th anniversary of the abolition of chattel slavery. This year’s observances are overshadowed by the shooting of unarmed protestors in Linden by the police. It is a vivid reminder that almost 18 decades since emancipation, the children of the formerly enslaved continue to face some of the very challenges their ancestors sought to eradicate. The anti-people nature of the state persists to this day.
It is, therefore, fitting that this year’s observances be dedicated to the Linden Martyrs, who were injured on July 18 and the people of Linden. WPA commends the people of Linden and the wider African Guyanese community for rejecting attempts by Government to draw them into a race war.
The decision to instead focus their energies on organizing a mass freedom movement is a serious blow in favor of the restoration of the emancipation spirit. What is particularly inspiring is that in the noble tradition of self-emancipation, this movement is led by the masses acting in unity with their own strength and native wisdom. WPA urges that this culture of self-organization for self-emancipation become the rule rather than the exception. A people relying on their own instincts are always in a superior position to those relying on directions from overlords.
WPA uses this Emancipation anniversary to call for a renewal of the Emancipation promise of a state and Government that stands not in opposition to the democratic and righteous aspirations of the citizenry but in the defense and promotion of a society free from domination and coercion. We call for a national plan aimed at restoring the villages to their once productive state in the areas of economics, education and culture. In this regard an economic revitalization plan for Linden cannot wait. Such a plan must have the direct input of the communities involved.
We encourage a conversation within the African Guyanese community aimed at educating the community, particularly the youth, about the contributions African Guyanese have made to the economic, political and cultural development of Guyana.
We call for a similar national conversation on Racial Reconciliation as a prerequisite to national healing and unity. WPA remains convinced that only a national Government can bring the necessary relief and security to Guyana and lay the basis for a lasting social and political reconciliation.
Progressive Youth Organization
The Progressive Youth Organization (PYO) joins in celebrating one of the most important holidays in our country’s history. Emancipation Day, August 1, 1838 was the culmination of many great struggles of African slaves. It constituted the first major blow for the complete independence of our nation.
As a young nation, we need to take inspiration from our past to proceed in developing our country. The sacrifices of our forefathers in fighting against slavery must inspire us to work tirelessly to promote our nation’s cause. In the past we were exploited to build European nations. Today, we have the opportunity of building our own country. So far, we have collectively made important strides.
Nation building is a huge venture and sacrifices and fairness are needed. All of us, especially young people, must be conscious that we need to put our shoulders to the wheel, in order to advance the best interests of our nation. We must also be prepared to equally struggle for our own and our future generations’ upliftment.
That is why we support the plan for the gradual integration of electricity rates paid by the people of Linden with that of the rest of the country. This is in the best interest of all.
We must also be aware that we have not reached the stage of full self-reliance. Neither the country nor the national private sector possesses all the means to advance us rapidly to that stage we aspire to. This means that there is a role for foreign capital to play in the process of development.
However, neither national nor international capital would invest in a climate where the atmosphere for production and productivity is not good. We must promote our country as a place where people are prepared to work diligently to bring about further advancement.
We must fight against any proposal that would make us dependent and which in the end would lead to under-development. The most prosperous countries in the world today are those whose people are prepared to work hard to build their nations.
Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
One of the primary functions of the Ministry’s overall mandate is to preserve and promote the cultural significance, the elements of our heritage and legacy as a nation.
The fact that Guyana is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society, wherein various groups have fashioned and now celebrate diverse origins, landmarks and anniversaries in their own specific reverent, exuberant, even educational manner, merely adds to the cultural mosaic and identity that is peculiarly Guyanese. Such an observance and celebration is this week’s Emancipation anniversary.
It is against such reflections that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport actively joins our African-Guyanese in celebrating this annual national event.
Emancipation is national if only because it was the catalyst which caused the arrival of other major groups to this land (except our first, indigenous people, the Amerindians). Therein lies’ a powerful reason for every group of Guyanese to embrace both the act and spirit and consequences of the legal full freedom of the African plantation slaves from British ownership, one hundred and seventy four years ago.
Every year, friendly provocative debates arise as to the long-lasting effects of plantation enslavement on its victims and their descendants. The Ministry regards the discussions as useful, especially if analyses and conclusions are motivating both pride and productivity.
Afro-Guyanese must be proud of the inescapable historical facts that their fathers’ sacrifices produced the countries first man-made drainage and irrigation infrastructure, established our country’s original village system and contributed the human resources to man the then colony’s professions, trades and entrepreneurial enterprises.
Reflection and self-examination must occupy afro-Guyanese consciousness at this stage of our history and national development even as they make merry at the soirees with traditional music, dance, foods and dress.
The Ministry increased its monetary contributions to the leading, registered, ethnic-specific afro-Guyanese representative and cultural organizations that are active in preserving and promoting their rich legacy.
Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation
The Chief Executive Officer, Michael Khan, management and staff of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation extend Emancipation Day greetings.
The abolition of slavery represents a watershed in history, ending centuries of the most abominable system known to humanity.
On this Emancipation Day 2012, it is noteworthy that we recognize the sterling efforts of the abolitionists. But even more important is that on this day we give honour and thanks to the millions who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that slavery could be abolished.
Long before the abolitionists began their noble mission, the slaves had begun a heroic and sustained process of resistance. In the course of that struggle, the burdens borne were great, the human toll heavy and the sacrifices countless. This was the colossal price paid to bring closure to one of history’s darkest phases.
It is my wish that we, mankind, never again return to such a state of human subjugation. On this Emancipation Day, it is also my hope that we will all commit towards securing our freedoms by working to build a society in which all are respected.
Here at the Georgetown Hospital, we will continue to serve our patients with respect regardless of race, religion gender or social class. In so doing, we will be playing our part in securing a future in which every person is equal in dignity.
People’s National Congress Reform
On the 174th Anniversary of the Emancipation of the Slaves, under the theme, “Reclaiming Our Rights through Unified Purpose”, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) joins other Guyanese organisations and the Guyanese people in general, in commemoration of this most important milestone in our country’s march towards social and economic independence.
On the first of August 1838, descendants of Africans in Guyana regained their freedom after two centuries of enslavement. Every August, therefore, it is fitting that the entire Guyanese nation should participate in the public celebration to commemorate not only the bloody sacrifices of the Africans who struggled, suffered and were slaughtered for the sake of the freedom we all enjoy today, but also the birth of the nation itself which was the consequence of Emancipation.
In fact, Emancipation is Guyana’s most important national celebration. It marks the start of the most significant demographic change through the coming of various ethnic groups – mainly the Portuguese, East Indians and Chinese; the transformation of the coastal landscape through the creation of free villages; the diversification of the economy into the production of food crops, gold-mining and logging; and, eventually, the liberation of society through the popular movements for labour organisation, constitutional reform and political mobilisation.
In celebrating Emancipation, we celebrate the diversity of the Guyanese nation and the rich cultural heritage of all our people. Emancipation was not for few, but for all. It is true that the African fore-parents of the Guyanese people fought for freedom 249 years ago in the Berbice Revolt led by Kofi; 189 years ago in the Demerara Revolt inspired by Kwamina; 178 years ago in the Essequibo Revolt led by Damon; and in so many other places at many other times.
Today, Guyanese of all races are the beneficiaries and heirs of our nation’s first freedom fighters.
After Emancipation, the free people established village communities which became the crucible of what became recognised as African-Guyanese culture which rested securely on the foundation of freedom and was manifested in their adherence to the church – almost every African was a Christian and almost every village had at least one church; the family home – regardless how poor, everyone was a member of a family and had a home in which to live; the school – in which they were enabled to achieve near universal literacy; and the farm — the provision grounds which made Guyana a major exporter of vegetables to the Eastern Caribbean by early in the 20th century.
This was the Emancipation Covenant for which the fore-parents of the African-Guyanese fought – freedom; faith; family; education and labour. Emancipation was about liberation, not just from enslavement on the plantation, but from all forms of restrictions that prevented them from enjoying a dignified life. They understood that Emancipation was not a single event that occurred on August 1. It was the start of a continuous process in which the emancipated must continuously emancipate themselves.
In our fore-parents’ world view, the consolidation of the family, acquisition of land, adherence to the faith, construction of homes, schools and churches, production and sale of commodities were all part of self-liberation. Emerging from the long night of enslavement, they knew that they could expect no charity from a vengeful plantocracy, or sympathy from the Colonial Government. They knew that they had to work hard and long to get by, much less to get on. They did not expect the Government to solve their problems. They had to be self-reliant, and they were.
It would have been wishful thinking to expect that a single legislative measure such as the Emancipation Act could erase the effects of a system which could be described as the greatest crime against humanity of the last millennium. Plantation slavery, however, cast a long dark shadow over the entire western hemisphere.
Although the prominence of a few successful celebrities, scholars, professional persons and sportsmen and women is often mistaken as proof that the Emancipation of Africans was successful, it is evident that a much larger number do not enjoy a high quality of life. Many problems still affect persons of African descent — discrimination; marginalisation; under-employment; inappropriate education; criminal violence; political misrepresentation; debilitating disease; and domestic instability. These remain causes for concern that must be addressed.
Emancipation, after all, was not a finite event that ended 174 years ago. Rather, it was the start of a long, continuous process which must aim at affording a higher quality of life to Guyanese of every race.
May all of the many activities taking place during this week remind us of the need for continuous struggle, in unity, to overcome and to win despite the odds.