first_imgLast year, Head of State, David Granger, described the emancipation of enslaved Africans as the most “important calendar event of the country” as he expressed the view that it “marked the start of Guyanese nationhood”.Mr Granger also expressed the view that the day should be celebrated by all Guyanese, because it not only marked the end of over 200 years of slavery, but it somehow paved the way for other watershed moments to be celebrated in Guyana, which in themselves ushered in a new wave of change and freedom.Driving home his point, the Head of State remarked that the great ‘Village Movement’, which was started in 1839 eventually led 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.He insisted that “Emancipation Day, therefore, 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”.The President’s viewpoint remains sound, and today the goal of creating a unified Guyana still remains the ideal ‘goal’. While it can be argued that the lives of Africans in Guyana and further afield have improved tremendously because of the struggles overcome by this resilient group of people, enough is not being done to tackle the more serious challenges that are now threatening their peaceful and continued co-existence as well as development.The truth is, as Guyana celebrates the 180th Anniversary of the end of Chattel Slavery in all of its forms, some African Guyanese are facing an identity crisis as a result of the failure of many of their elders to do more to safeguard their rich culture and heritage. As a result, there appears to be a growing distaste creeping up among African Guyanese for the basic things that make them African and set them apart from other groups of people.As technology advances and the Western influence continues to create tidal waves within South America, the Caribbean and other parts of Western Africa, the numbers of Guyanese who lack an appreciation for the natural colour of their skin, the texture of their hair, and their ethnic make-up are vastly increasing. Advocacy organisations and lobbyists group are not doing enough to dispel the notion that black is representative of power, beauty and wisdom.They continue to take a piecemeal approach to educating the younger generations on the importance of their history and culture, with every single Afro-Guyanese advocacy group painting a vastly different picture about what it means to be “African and proud”.The country’s leaders must devise more strategies to promote entrepreneurship at the village economy level, especially within communities that are predominately Afro-Guyanese. But they must ensure that such strategies do not lead to new inequalities between the various social groups.Sadly, discussions about black empowerment and taking pride in one’s ancestral heritage only creep up on days like today, and then fade away as soon as night turns into day. All Guyanese, therefore, must look to the deeper meanings and underpinnings of emancipation, in order to achieve a new level of consciousness and freedom.For African Guyanese, Emancipation must represent a convergence of the horrors of enslavement, overcoming enslavement, and confronting the sordid and persistent legacy of enslavement after it was the most dehumanising experience in our country and the world.It should also be seen as a day of triumph over subjugation and domination, whereby the human spirit refused to give in and give up in future.Guyanese can ill afford, as a result, to view this year’s Emancipation anniversary as just a token holiday to African Guyanese. It is not, and must be viewed as a recognition and affirmation of Black and African dignity and equal worth, and a reminder that all groups have a sacred duty to guard against domination.This is a critical aspect of the Emancipation Story, as it explains the current disparity in development among countries. It was this theory that was so ably articulated by our own Dr. Walter Rodney in his famous book ‘How Europe underdeveloped Africa’.Here in Guyana, the famous uprisings of 1763 and 1823 are inscribed in our consciousness. Emancipation eventually came not through the slave masters’ change of heart, but by the persistent resistance of the enslaved.last_img read more

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