Happy Emancipation Day!
As Guyanese together celebrate 177 years of Emancipation from Slavery, it is hoped that as a nation we continue to embrace our Motto of – One People, One Nation and One Destiny.
Below are some messages that were issued to commemorate this auspicious emancipation observance.
PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM (PNC/R)
On the 177th anniversary of the Emancipation of the Slaves, 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 August 1, 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 foreparents of the Guyanese people fought for freedom 252 years ago in the Berbice Revolt led by Kofi; 192 years ago in the Demerara Revolt inspired by Kwamina; 181 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.
May all of the many activities taking place during this occasion remind us of the need for continuous struggle in unity to overcome and to win despite the odds.
THE MAYOR AND COUNCILLORS OF THE CITY OF GEORGETOWN
This is a period when all Guyanese at home and in the Diaspora take the time to reflect on the past, consider the present and contemplate the prospects of the future.
The truism is that no other act against humanity can be compared to the atrocity of slavery; the pain and brutality of the whips has constituted the most unimaginable burden.
Centuries of slavery could not break the indomitable spirit of the African people, but it inspired them to make sacrifices and to defer gratification to allow their descendants to enjoy the divine right of freedom.
Let us consider the pride and glory of our ancestors prior to their captivity and allow these values and beliefs, to guide us to the path of success.
We must embrace a paradigm shift, we must remove ourselves from lawlessness, corruption and indiscipline, let us unite to build a better Guyana.
Finally, let us commit ourselves to have positive attitude towards our environment. Let us join hands to restore the integrity and pride of our capital city.
THE CUFFY 250 COMMITTEE
The Cuffy250 Committee joins with the rest of Guyana in saluting the African Guyanese Community on the observance of the 177th anniversary of the formal abolition of slavery. We urge that, as we celebrate we should not ignore the uncomfortable truth about the state of the African Guyanese community. African Guyanese communities have been persistent victims of discrimination, stereotyping, and state violence. Stripped of their organizations, knowledge of and pride in their history and of their economic base, the African Guyanese community is in a worse state than it was in 1838.
In this regard, this year’s observances should serve as a reminder to all Guyanese, especially those charged with governance at all levels, of the Emancipation promise of liberty, freedom and equality. Cuffy 250 calls for a determined commitment in word and deed by government to make good on those promises; a commitment that must go beyond festivities.
African Guyanese must also participate in the restoration of its equal standing in Guyana. We again urge African Guyanese begin to plan as a collective to lift itself. We in Cuffy250 will set the ball rolling at our Third Annual State of the African Guyanese Forum to be held on Sunday August 9 at 10am at the Critchlow Labour College, where we intend to raise anew the quest for ethnic equality in Guyana.
GUYANA AGRICULTURAL AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION
GAWU, yet again joins in the national celebration marking the one hundred and seventy-seventh (177th) anniversary of the emancipation of the forefathers of our African Guyanese citizenry.
This has become a joyful tradition and one which holds great significance for us. Freedom from physical bondage which brought on unspeakable brutality and exploitation spawned by colonialism/capitalism was undoubtedly a step along the way to our independence, the breaking of the colonial relationships and the forging of a Guyanese nation.
It must be noted that freedom in 1838 was won and attained from the heroic and self-sacrificing struggles of the slaves. Today, we must not only embrace those struggles but they should inspire us as a people to jealously guard our independence and our general sovereignty in times when renewed efforts are being, more and more, seen to re-establish colonial relations in various regions of the world.
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) recognizes the major contribution of the descendants of those freed African slaves in the continuous development of Guyana and in all areas of our country’s life – sport, culture, politics, security, foreign service. So many have received acclaim regionally and internationally too.
Not only our Afro-Guyanese citizens but, indeed, our country has come a far way in these past 176 years. Though our times are serious and challenging, we can draw strength and heed the lessons from our forefathers – our hopes for a better life, society and world are realizable in our unity and principled struggles.
FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS OF GUYANA
The history of a nation is, essentially, the story of its people, “History” connotes past. And the past of a people – their arrivals, encounters, set-backs, challenges and achievements – must be recorded, remembered and studied in depth and objectively simply because people make nations.
Guyana is not one of the homogenous societies of this world. It is comprised of its indigenous people and descendants coming from Europe, Africa and Asia. These groups have had their varied and rich stories inter-woven into one tapestry titled “Guyana”.
Against these brief reflections, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) shares sentiments of observances and celebration with our Afro-Guyanese community on another anniversary of Emancipation from European slavery which dates back to 1838. We join with them and, indeed, the nation to reflect, and celebrate the outstanding achievements and encourage our brothers and sisters to plan constructively to pursue an even better future.
Today, despite the advances made, our nation still face difficulties aggravated by a troubled world. FITUG sees the need for unity in these times, a main factor to help us face current challenges and score other victories.
GUYANA TRADES UNION CONGRESS
177 years ago the cry of freedom reverberated throughout the British Commonwealth. It was the cry of Africans, enslaved for hundreds of years in chattel slavery, now free!
The achievement of emancipation, which was not without struggles, was among the first major accomplishment in a people’s march for self-determination. It is a march that has been paved with setbacks, challenges and achievements. Most importantly, this experience ought to serve as a reminder that freedom was/is never free. Freedom requires eternal vigilance and sacrifices to preserve and defend gains, even as achievements are marked along the way, and work is intensified to strengthen, deepen and advance the cause.
The United Nations Declaration fortifies the principle that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights….are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” This principle is safeguarded in the Constitution, notably, Title 1 that guarantees the ‘Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual.’ These instruments serve as reminder that the struggle must not cease until attainment is achieved for all.
And though the African community has much to be proud of, there remain concerns that ought to be addressed. Among the accomplishments are the roles played in laying the foundation of modern Guyana such as the establishment of the Village, Cooperative and Labour movements. Among concerns are the community’s socio-economic status and treatment in the political order. Thus it means the struggle for equality and freedom must continue.
As this generation marks the achievement of their ancestors 177 years ago, may efforts be redoubled to safeguard and build on it.
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