Emancipation Day 2021 -President Ali hails contribution of Afro-Guyanese

President Infaan Ali

— recommits to establishment of ‘One Guyana Commission’

ALMOST two centuries after the abolition of the most heinous crime against humanity, slavery, Afro-Guyanese continue to catalyse growth and development, making strides in every sphere of life.

“While we take the time to pay homage to our African-Guyanese brothers and sisters on the occasion of Emancipation, we must seize this opportunity to acknowledge, to value, and to celebrate their tremendous achievements and contributions to national development,” President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, said in his message to commemorate Emancipation Day, 2021.     

Undoubtedly, African-Guyanese have distinguished themselves in all spheres of human endeavour, the President said, noting that among the many achievements are the laying of the foundation of Guyana’s economic infrastructure, establishing the Village Movement, pioneering undertakings of the peasantry, developing local government systems, promoting co-operative institutions and other social organisations and being in the forefront of the emergence of local trade unionism.

Further, President Ali posited: “Our African-Guyanese brothers and sisters, remain integral to national development and continue to excel and contribute to our nation’s progress. African-Guyanese doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are among those on the frontlines providing life-saving care and treatment to our sick and infirmed.

“They are securing our borders, policing our territorial waters and safeguarding our towns, villages and communities. You are among Guyana’s dedicated teachers who are molding the minds and values of our children – Guyana’s future leaders. As sportsmen and women, you are making our country and region proud by your amazing accomplishments and performance.”
African-Guyanese also occupy senior positions in the State’s administration. They are working assiduously to improve the quality of public services offered to citizens.

On the private side, African-Guyanese farmers, fishers, loggers and miners are generating wealth; professionals and entrepreneurs are helping to propel industry and commerce.
“My upbringing and my political career have been molded by the bonds of friendship cultivated over the years. I have benefitted from the advice and support of a number of outstanding and dedicated professionals of African descent whom I am proud to call friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters,” President Ali said.

These relationships, however, are not defined by distinctions of race, class or religion. In the President’s view, it is the essence of being Guyanese. And while the nation looks forward with hope and optimism, on this occasion, they are called to reflect on their past.

The abolition of slavery was a defining moment in Guyana’s history, President Ali said, noting that it ended the abhorrent, inhumane system of human enslavement, which had seen millions of innocent Africans being transported across the Atlantic Ocean only to be sold into chattel slavery and forced into unmitigated toil and suppression.

To this end, he said: “Emancipation Day recalls the heroic courage and sacrifices of our African ancestors in their epic struggle for freedom and human dignity. Today, and every Emancipation Day, we salute the indomitable will of those who rebelled against the indignities of slavery.

“Guyana’s history is punctuated by uprisings – courageous acts by enslaved Africans, including the decisive blows for freedom that took place in 1763 and 1823. Freedom, however, was not accompanied by recompense for the atrocities committed against those enslaved.”

Emancipation Day remains a constant reminder of the debt that is still owed to Africans and their descendants.

“It is therefore fitting that on this day, we as Guyanese recommit to the goal of gaining international reparations for the crime of African enslavement.  Reparative justice must include a full and unconditional apology from those responsible and/or who benefitted from the transatlantic trade in captive Africans and their consequent enslavement,” President Ali posited.

Reparative justice, however, cannot be confined to such an apology, the President said, noting that it must go further.
“Guyana will continue to support the efforts being made within the Caribbean Community to press for the convening of an international summit to demand reparative justice for the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, African enslavement, and its enduring effects,” the Head of State affirmed.

Not only on the regional and international front, but also on the local scene, there will continue to be efforts which enhance the lives of Afro-Guyanese. President affirmed that every citizen will benefit from the opportunities which are being unlocked.

“We want every Guyanese to be part of this development, sharing in its transformation and in its resultant benefits,” the Head of State said.

In repeating what he said in his inaugural address to the twelfth Parliament earlier this year, President Ali said an essential part of his government is inclusion.
“As Guyanese, we should be defined by our nationality and by our common love for our country. The establishment of the ‘One Guyana Commission’ will give life to our vision of oneness,” the Head of State related.

Guyana Chronicle – August 1, 2021

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  • Derek Broomes  On 08/01/2021 at 12:50 pm

    Excellent aspirations Mr. President

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