The ‘black consciousness’ group, Cuffy250 will be holding its second annual “State of the Black and African Guyanese” forum come Sunday to discuss pivotal issues ailing the Afro-Guyanese communities.
The body sees frank discourse on issues facing this ethnic group as compulsory for national development.
According to executive member, David Hinds, the Cuffy250 committee is set on addressing matters of concern for the African community in order to develop and sustain an ethnically equal society.
In a public statement, Hinds expressed that the forum is being held at a critical juncture in Guyanese Post Independence history, where “the fragile multi-ethnic compact is under severe stress.”
Hinds related that following visits to various communities, “it has become apparent that commitment to the national compact has declined, which is having a negative effect on the ability of the social poor and their communities to advance their socio-economic and cultural development.”
Hinds said, “It has also led to the African Guyanese’s sense of alienation from the national community and the deterioration of confidence in their ability to secure equality of opportunity in Guyana.”
He pointed out however, that since the first “State of Black African Guyanese” Forum last year, “we have embarked on a two-pronged campaign—to raise consciousness among African Guyanese about their history, heritage and the factors that combine to stifle their quest for equality and empowerment, and to encourage and mobilize communities to begin to address their problems on their own.”
During the course of the year, over 30 forums have been held.
These include workshops and community meetings on the Essequibo Coast, West Berbice, Linden, West Demerara and Georgetown that addressed a wide range of issues that affect African Guyanese.
On Sunday, attendees who are expected to pay a $1200 registration fee will engage in discourse on Education, Youth and the Law, Foreign Policy, African Guyanese Organizations, Women and Violence, Human Rights, Ethnicity and Society, Leadership and Economic Policy and Development.
The Committee believes that these issues directly and indirectly influence communities. ‘We, therefore, feel that the time has come to begin a national initiative to return our country to its original promise of equality, justice, security and opportunity for all regardless of their cultural heritage, religious belief, race, ethnicity, sex, social class or sexual orientation.”
Cuffy250 believes that after 50 years of Independence, Guyana is yet to live up to its motto of “One People, One Nation, One Destiny.”
“From an African Guyanese standpoint, the last 50 years of independence, despite some sincere attempts at social engineering, has not brought enough relief to this group from the institutionalized domination that has characterized its post-emancipation experience.”
In particular, the last two decades have witnessed a rapid decline in the socio-economic and political fortunes of African Guyanese. It is for this reason, Hinds said, “we feel it’s high time that we begin a sober assessment of our Independence project. Hence our theme “Guyana Approaching 50 years of Independence: Reviewing the Past and Envisioning the Future””
He is adamant that any nation that is serious about its viability in a rapidly changing world must periodically re-visit its roots, renew its covenant and anticipate new global trends. “A nation has a sacred duty to engage in constant conversation with itself and we feel that as Guyana approaches its 50th Independence anniversary, it is an opportune time to begin such a discussion.”
Sunday’s forum is multi- fold. It is meant to be the beginning of a discussion on Guyana’s Independence experience over the last half-century and to tease out the advances, challenges and setbacks of the national project; “in other words, how far along the road are we in the journey to nationhood?” From that discussion, the Committee also wants to begin a conversation on what realistic goals can be set for the next 50 years. “What kind of nation and society do we imagine going forward” The Committee will also locate the condition of African Guyanese within this larger Independence project in order to make the linkage between the fortunes of the group and the macro-policies undertaken over the past 50 years.
The Forum will be held at the Critchlow Labor College Auditorium from 10 a.m. Opposition Leader David Granger as well as Nigel Hughes, Nicole Cole, Jonathan Adams, Vincent Alexander, Carl Greenidge, Onassis Granville, Dr. David Hinds, Aubrey Norton, Dr. Norman Ng-A-Qui and Sharma Solomon are expected to deliver presentations.
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