President David A. Granger, during a festival on Aug. 1 to commemorate the 180th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, called on Guyanese to strive for “economic emancipation” that he noted would create a better quality of life and move Guyana towards development.
“Our fore-parents succeeded after centuries of sacrifices and struggles to become legally emancipated, but we must strive to secure ‘economic emancipation,” the head of state told a crowd of hundreds at the Union Culture and Sports Complex in #53 Union Village, Corentyne, Berbice, one of the villages, where the emancipation of slavery took place.
President Granger, who attended several emancipation festivities in other historic villages, before his stopover in Berbice, recalled the degradation slaves endured on plantations and the freedom they secured, saying, “despite their lack of education, they had a vision, mission, and purpose to establish these villages on four pillars for freedom, home, church, school, and employment.”
He said villages play an important role in nation building and promised to visit these settlements yearly, many where members of his administration were born. He called on Guyanese to make poverty history, like the slaves who in these villages joined together to purchase 6000 acres of land at the value of GY$1M, 180 year ago, in order to free themselves from slavery.
“This is a most auspicious occasion in Guyanese history, because after 200 years, Africans were freed from bondage on Aug. 1, and Guyana was never the same,” said President Granger, who reminded the crowd of Chinese, Indian and Portuguese Arrival Day celebrations he attended during the year, noting that people from four continents make up “this great Guyanese nation,” with the Amerindians being the first people to settle in Guyana.
In his commitment to empowering the nation though education, he urged Guyanese to educate themselves and become skilled in preparation for Guyana’s oil and gas sectors, and other industries, while calling on parents to make it their personal commitment to ensure that every child attends school in order for the country to benefit from the brilliant minds of the future.
The commander in chief, who was accompanied by First Lady, H.E. Sandra Granger and members of his cabinet, including Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, Minister of Public Communications, Catherine Hughes, Minister of Education Nicolette Henry, Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally, Minister of Health Volda Lawrence, Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton, were entertained by students during a cultural presentation of dance, poetry, and drumming.
Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase-Greene also attended the event.
As part of the festivities, 25 children received bicycles in keeping with President Granger’s 5Bs Initiative, which donates bicycles, boats, buses, breakfast, and books, to students across Guyana.
The leader later did a walkabout and interacted with vendors and organizations that participated at the ‘2018 180th Emancipation festival’, organized by the Berbice Association of African Groups.