Today we join our brothers and sisters of African heritage to celebrate Emancipation Day 2017. This year marks 179 years since the abolition of slavery, a feat that deserves to be recognized and celebrate by all.
Extending messages on this occasion are a number of individuals and organizations below:

Emancipation Day – on 1st August 1838 – marked the end of over 200 years of enslavement in the colonies of Demerara-Essequibo and Berbice. This day marked, also, the start of Guyanese nationhood.

Emancipation enabled Africans who had been enslaved on the plantations to gain their freedom. It triggered, also, the immigration of Portuguese, Indian and Chinese indentured labourers. The descendants of these peoples, together with the indigenous Amerindians, make up the population of the free nation of Guyana today.     

Emancipation was the opportunity for people from four continents to build better lives for themselves and generations to come. They embarked on a series of movements to transform the colonial landscape and the peoples’ livelihoods.

The great ‘Village Movement’ started in 1839. This led, eventually, to the ‘political movement’ for civil rights and constitutional change and to the ‘labour movement’ for the improvement of conditions of work in urban and rural areas.
Emancipation Day, therefore, is a most auspicious event of Guyana’s history which should be observed by all. It was, indeed, the start of the process by which the plantations became the foundation of one nation and through which the various peoples began to live and work together in pursuit of a common destiny.
Happy Emancipation Day to all Guyanese!


Every August 1st since 1838, successive generations have reflected on the struggles of the original freedom fighters – Cuffy, Quamina and Damon and those with whom they organized and mobilized to effect redress to the darkest and most heinous act in human history – the enslavement of Africans in the Caribbean and the Americas.
Following centuries of despicable and inhumane enslavement, these indomitable African warriors demanded and fought for an end to hundreds of years of abhorrence. Freedom was restored and this represents the original independence in our nation’s history.
As was noted on the previous observance of this occasion the emancipation of African slaves predated the abolition of indentureship, the struggle for universal adult suffrage and labour rights, independence from colonial rule and the attainment of Republican status.
Now, in a democratic nation where freedoms have been restored and are zealously guarded, we thrive and look toward the future with great hope and expectation. Long may this continue as we build Guyana towards a glorious future of the good life in a green economy.


August 1 in Guyana marks a day of celebration of the attainment of freedom and the end of slavery. It is also imperative that we spend time reflecting on the life of tribulation and servitude that our foreparents were forced to endure for centuries under brutish colonial rule.
Even as we engage in the festivities of Emancipation Day 2017, the Alliance For Change urges the nation to reflect on the oppression and brutality of slavery and bondage, in all its forms, including its modern incarnations, and renew our national commitment never to return to the dark days of oppression, servitude and submission when basic individual freedoms were deprived and a ‘massa’ mentality pervaded.
As we engage in prayer, culinary delicacies, socializing and fraternizing we must never forget the sacrifices of our forefathers who suffered and paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we now enjoy. As the heirs of emancipation fought for by Cuffy, Accra, Damon and other heroes we have a sacred duty to ensure that their struggles and sacrifices are never forgotten or eroded. It is our duty to celebrate their lives and sacrifices and recognize their contribution to the human and social upliftment of our beloved nation.
The beat of the drums in celebration should forever remind us that we are called upon to ensure the protection of those rights and freedoms which were fought for and won at emancipation time.
Guyanese must guard against the forces who wish to return our nation to a state in which Guyanese are treated as the property for political, economic and other purposes. This is the solemn duty of every citizen.



The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) wishes to extend warmest Emancipation greetings to every Guyanese, especially our Afro-Guyanese brothers and sisters.
Slavery remains the most cruel and inhumane system of subjugation and discrimination known to human history. The celebration of its abolition is the right and duty of every single human being.
Under the most intolerable and horrendous conditions, the slaves were able to mobilize and struggle relentlessly for their freedom. When freedom finally came, the freed slaves and their descendants, though uneducated, demonstrated an exceptional degree of industry, thrift and financial acumen and hence, were able to acquire large portions of land, which today remains the foundation of our village movement and subsistence cash crop industry.
Indeed, the contributions of slaves and their descendants to every facet of life in this nation is simply immeasurable and it would be impossible to accurately capture in a mere statement of this nature.
As we celebrate this important historic and national occasion, we urge every Guyanese not only to reflect upon the herculean sacrifices of the slaves and their descendants, their incomparable struggles and their remarkable achievements, but also to use them as a source of inspiration and guide as we continue to work together to build a united and democratic nation, free from poverty and discrimination and one in which every Guyanese believes that he/she can achieve his/her true potential.
Happy Emancipation Day to all.

The WPA joins with African Guyanese in observing yet another Emancipation anniversary. Emancipation should be a reminder to all Guyanese of both the horrors of the system of slavery and the long struggle to overthrow it. The memory of slavery should serve to recommit us to a country and a world free of all forms of bondage. Slavery was a political and economic system which had far-reaching consequences for the very notion of who were classified as human beings. Africans were classified as chattel, not fit to be humans. So, Emancipation was the culmination of the struggle to restore the humanity of the enslaved.
Emancipation also meant the desire for freedom on the part of the formerly enslaved—to be free to live as equal citizens, to have the right to education, to practice their culture in its deepest sense, to build and nurture their communities and above all to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Since Emancipation in 1838, there has been a constant struggle to attain that freedom. The challenges to the freedom of African Guyanese and other powerless groups in our society have multiplied, causing many African Guyanese to question whether the Emancipation promise has been realized.
WPA, therefore, urges that our country revisits, as a matter of urgency, that promise of freedom. When one looks at the socio-economic condition of African Guyanese, we cannot, as a country, be proud of our track-record since 1838. The decline of the villages and the village economy has had dire consequences for villagers and African Guyanese in general.
The high rate of unemployment particularly among our youth population, the decline in the standard of education and the high rate of migration out of the communities are all consequences of that larger decline of the village economy.
WPA wishes to use this Emancipation anniversary to raise anew the urgency of the restoration of the right to work and to earn a living wage as fundamental human rights. While, we recognize that government has to juggle scarce national resources, we urge that the next budget shout treat with the matter of improved public service wages as a matter of high priority. More efficient government services cannot be realized outside of a living wage for government workers.


The final “full freedom” of Emancipation was won after decades of death, suffering, slavery and exploitation from 1763 through 1823 to 1834 and finally 1838.
The spirit of yearning for freedom – that liberty of mind, body and soul from ownership by others never deserted the African slaves and the indentured contracted workers who followed them after full Emancipation in 1838. Numerous were the uprisings, rebellions, protests, riots and strikes. Emancipation never came willingly or cheaply from the colonialists.
Against those sentiments, GAWU salutes the memory of those who struggled and sacrificed for freedom, and the descendants of our African forefathers who today have hopefully inherited their spirit of justice and true freedom from those who dared to stand up against the brutal, enslaving colonial system.
It is now popular to repeat that “had there been no Emancipation there would have been no Arrival”. But it is still a valid observation of our shared history. Both slaves “apprentices” and indentured labourers were children of the plantation – however illegitimate they were made to be.
Sugar is the historical reason for today’s diverse demography we know as Guyanese society.
It is perhaps a curious but understandable fact of Guyana’s socio-economic history that sugar brought us together, often forged bonds of collective struggle against the plantocracy and for independence.
GAWU feels that this Emancipation 2017 period should re-inforce in us all the lessons of the post-1838 history. In unity, strength is most sustained. Today, sugar workers are at a low ebb facing the disaster of unemployment as government flounders to fashion a valid structured lasting plan to rescue an historic industry. Closure threatens thousands – both sugar workers and other members of the working-class. As with the forced apprentices in 1838 today’s sugar workers face a bleak, hopeless future unless, economic sense prevails and the workers’ representatives are listened to with serious intent.
The descendants of Emancipation must all share in equal opportunity as our natural and human resources become available to development for all.



On this day 179 years ago the valiant struggle by Africans for human dignity and respect was advanced a step further with the Emancipation Proclamation which ended the most brutish system of man’s injustice towards another. Freedom from chattel slavery not only set in train a series of events proving to the world the indomitable spirit of the newly freed, and the capacity of human fellowship across racial diversity, but that of self-determination in charting a course for further up-liftment and development.
The nation will recall the dogged pursuit for economic freedom, via the Village Movement, that saw the purchasing of plantations to establish communities, local government, build stability, familial and otherwise, and advance development. This sense of thrift not only proved beyond a shadow of doubt a people’s capability, who though for hundreds of years toiled and lived under inhumane conditions, whips reigning down on their backs, families torn asunder, treated as property not human beings, in the four-year of Amelioration (1834-1834) were able to achieve what others thought impossible.
The achievements must not only be testimony of the ability to self-determine but also determination not to be enslaved or constrained by past unpleasantries. Heirs and beneficiaries of these struggles, sacrifices and gains must engage in redoubling of efforts, vigilance and insistency to be allowed to continue the forebears’ work. Zealously defending, protecting, strengthening and deepening what was bequeathed and leaving a firmer foundation for future generations must become the mantra and solemn pledge.
Freedom is not free, it requires eternal vigilance and continuous sacrifices. To the extent where Africans are deprived of equality in the social, cultural, political, civic and economic environment, all out efforts must be made to secure these.
And let it be said, in the pursuit of said determination, it must matter not the identity or diversity of those who suppress or support the cause. The only thing that must matter is the cause, for it speaks to and solidify the inalienable rights of all humankind.
To ignore this would be unlike the ancestors who worked with others in furtherance of their interests and resisted any who participated in their enslavement and deprivations.

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) joins easily with all Guyanese in the observance and, indeed, celebration of Emancipation 2017.
We are well aware of our colonial history which this occasion reminds us of. We recall that the British colonial plantocracy did everything in its guile and power to keep African slaves in plantation bondage even after the British Parliament passed the Emancipation Act in August of 1833. The enslaved had to wait until August, 1834 – one full year later – to enjoy liberty.
But with stiff conditions. They had to register as “apprentices” to work for limited payment on the same pre-1834 plantations. This apprenticeship was intended to last for four (4) to six (6) years.
FITUG highlights the foregoing to illustrate that freedom was not easily granted. Hundreds of slaves had died in the 1823 East Coast Uprising – just 11 years before 1834. Slaves on the Essequibo Coast saw their leader, Damon, executed for thinking that complete emancipation had been granted. To add salt to the wounds of the forced population, the Planters were awarded thousands of pounds as “compensation” for the loss of their African labour.
The slaves received nothing for their years of slave service.
But the Spirit of Man – however severely tested – is resilient and given to liberty. The African forefathers utilized savings from the Apprenticeship service to buy lands and began anew their lives under the new conditions. Since then their descendants have made admirable strides in the various fields of human endeavour.
They have become an important part of Guyana’s demography.
However, 179 years after 1838’s “full freedom” Guyana is still beset by modern day problems. Today, we see a new struggle being engaged in by Guyanese of various persuasions. The cost of living rises affects FITUG’s working-class members; crime is dramatic, dangerous and they are literally daily occurrences. The government itself does not seem inclined to negotiate a living wage for its own employees, even as the private sector – whether in commerce, mining, manufacturing or agriculture – lays out the restraints hampering production.
At this time, even as we celebrate our Emancipation Day and the positive strides made, FITUG urges workers to unite in solidarity against any burgeoning repression. We must take inspiration from the African pioneers of post-1838, in the pursuit of economic and social justice for all.
Let not the forefathers’ struggles be in vain. A reflective and happy Emancipation Day 2017 to all Guyanese.

Source: Aug 01, 2017  – Kaieteur News

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  • Gigi  On August 1, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    The irony of ironies. An emancipation message from the grand daddy of uncle toms to all the uncle toms and aunt jemimas who cling to their status with exaggerated grandiosity. Strutting around like peacocks,still very much proud of being wholly owned and controlled by massa. And let’s face it. Why not? If it wasn’t for massa, the whole lot of them wouldn’t be where they are now. Good grief! Even grand daddy uncle tom had to be rigged into his position because his kit and kin didn’t want him in. Yep! Being a grand daddy uncle tom is a coveted status! Emancipation? Free nation? What a hoot! The fact that you think so given the reality proves this burning desire to remain in chains to massa. To be honest though, it is a far better life than what you had back in Africa. I watched a documentary on Africa the other day and the unaffected natives – men, women and children – were digging away in the dirt with sticks to get at small bugs to eat. They were picking these insects right out of the dirt and eating them live, dirt and all. So yea, happy emancipation day – whatever it means to your people.

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