October 1, 2016

APNU/AFC’s downgrades sexual abuse of children from a crime to something harmless

Child abuse is a big global problem. From reports, one in four children suffer abuse and between 10 per cent and 50 per cent of these are sexually abused. In Guyana, the Childcare and Protection Agency (CCPA) announced that up to last week, the Agency received more than 2200 reports of child abuse, including more than 400 who were sexually abused so far in 2016. This is just the tip of the iceberg since most sexual and child abuse cases go unreported.

Any country that does not see stamping out child abuse as a central component of its development agenda is doomed. Indeed, child abuse is one of the vilest denials of the fundamental and basic rights of children and adolescents. It is a repugnant and a massive problem for every country in the world. Governments anywhere cannot extricate themselves from the responsibility to fight against child abuse and to eliminate it. The commitment of any Government to fight child abuse is testimony to its soul.

I have had a difficult time over the last several weeks not giving voice to something that really rattled and outraged me. The Social Protection Ministry issued a statement which sought to highlight the heinous crime of sexual abuse of our children by describing it as the “deflowering” of our children. I chose to wait and see the response from the Minister and from the President and his Cabinet. I waited to see if anyone of them will have the decency and will take responsibility to withdraw that statement and for them to apologise for such an irresponsible, reckless attitude towards sexual abuse.

No one in Government has stepped forward to rebuke those who made such a blatantly irresponsible statement. The Minister has steadfastly not addressed and corrected the recklessness of the official statement of the Government. I thought that as we observed Child Week last week that it was a good time for the Minister and her colleagues in Government to apologise. But I am still waiting in vain and, therefore, I decided to speak out. While I commend some of the NGOs for immediately raising the problem, it appears that all of them have gone silent again.

This is fighting for our soul as a nation and we must not rest until the Government shows that it will remain strong on fighting child abuse. Viewing sexual abuse of our children as merely “deflowering” shows a nonchalance that is frightening. The fact is incontrovertible – sexual abuse of children is a heinous crime, nothing less. When we got together as a nation under the leadership of President Bharrat Jagdeo and Minister Priya Manikchand, we took a huge step forward as a nation to stamp out child abuse, deeming sexual assaults of our children as nothing less than a heinous crime. Sexual assault of anyone is a crime, but the sexual abuse of our children must be seen as among the most heinous crime anyone can commit.

The statement that rape of our children is just a “deflowering” of our children has unfortunately placed us on a retrogressive path – moving sexual abuse of children from a heinous crime to merely a deflowering of our children. Deflowering is not a crime. Remember that every day we go to the flower shop to buy roses for our loved ones; it is the business of deflowering. It is not a crime. An attempt to describe the crime of sexual abuse to deflowering represents a frightening attitude that moves sexual abuse from the crime of violence and denial of human rights to just an everyday, harmless thing.

The care and the protection of our children must be a non-negotiable tenet of any development programme anywhere in the world. When the People’s Progressive Party Government decided that the Constitution must cater for the human rights of our children by ensuring the establishment of the Rights of the Child Commission and the Childcare and Protection Agency, it placed Guyana on a pathway where our Government reinforced its responsibility to ensure that the welfare of our children is a central and enduring component of the development agenda. The attitude of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Government on child abuse has been nothing but frightening. Its reluctance to reject and reprimand those responsible for downgrading the crime of rape of a child from a heinous crime to merely “deflowering” is adding to a history of downplaying the crime of sexual abuse. We must not forget that the Minister and her Government deliberately allowed a person charged with sexual abuse of a child to be a candidate for the People’s National Congress in the Local Government Elections and he is one of their Councillors in the city. The time is long past for the Government and the Minister responsible to apologise and take responsibility to ensure that our attitude towards child abuse is one that is non-compromising.

(Send comments to doc_ram@hotmail.com)


AB de Villiers ruled out of Australia tour



South Africa’s captain AB de Villiers has been ruled out of the home ODI series and away Test series against Australia because of a persistent elbow injury. He will have surgery early next week and will need eight to ten weeks of recovery time.

“AB has failed to come through his fitness test this morning,” Mohammad Moosajee, SA team manager said. “Although the physio strapped his elbow while he was batting and he did have some relief with some shots, the elbow pain has not gone away completely.

“When the initial injury was discovered, the issue was that he was having impingement with certain shots. With that in mind, we advocated a period of rest, he has seen the physiotherapist for treatment, he received some bio-kinetics and rehab, and also saw an elbow specialist for the infiltration of cortisone. In most cases, you get resolving of symptoms within six weeks. This did not take place, so we gave him an extra week to see if it would recover.

“This morning, he had a couple of throwdowns. The elbow was strapped and he had some symptom relief. He probably felt about 80% better than without the strapping. But knowing AB, the complete cricketer that he is, he wants to make sure none of his shots are restricted. With that in mind, we decided on surgery and to give him adequate time to recover so he doesn’t hamper his career going forward.

“The recovery is anything between eight to ten weeks and we are hopeful he will recover for the Sri Lanka series in December.”

De Villiers will sit out the five home ODIs – beginning on September 30 – and the three Tests in Australia in November, one of which will be South Africa’s maiden day-night fixture. He also missed the two Tests against New Zealand in August and the one-off ODI against Ireland because of the injury.

Faf du Plessis, has been given the responsibility to lead the team in the One Day Internationals at home as the replacement to de Villiers.


Malone leads Savage Masters to 2 wins

Ramo Malone

Ramo Malone

After four thrilling games at the Everest Cricket Club ground at Carifesta Avenue and Camp Road in the Regal Sport Softball Tournament last Sunday, it was Savage Masters who maintained a perfect record after two matches as HS Masters was also in winners row in the Masters’ Category while Mike’s Wellman defeated tournament hosts, Regal All-Stars in the open category.

In the opening game on Pitch one, Regal All-Stars were stunned by an energized Mike’s Wellman team as Wellman cruised to a five wicket victory.

Taking first strike, Regal were bundled out for a mediocre 105 having only batted for 11 overs and one ball of their 20 overs. Sachin Singh (37) and Patrick Rooplall (24) were the only significant scorers for the Regal team as key destroyer, Travis Alphonso copped 4-12.

In reply, Wellman raced to the target inside 12th over finishing on 111-5. Blasting Wellman to victory were Rajesh Reddy, who scored a composed 30 and Andre Seymour blasting a solid 14.

Delroy Perreira looked to stop the Wellman guys on his way to match figures of 3-21.

In the second match on pitch one, Ramo Malone was the integral architected as Savage Masters prevailed over HS Masters by six wickets.

Batting first, Danny Mohanram Clubbed a top score of 34 to send HS Masters on their way to an imposing 149-7. Additionally, Mohanram was supported by Manoj Arjune and Rudy Samaroo who both struck an 18. In the bowling department for Savage Masters, Malone, Bheem Singh and Randolph Pereira all carted off with two wickets.

Chasing down HS Masters’ total, Savage made light work of the run chase, reaching 152-4 in just 16.2 overs. Malone returned to dismantle the HS bowling on his way to an unbeaten 64 not out. Sing also came back to score 34. Mike Ifill provided the only resistance for the defending team as he claimed two scalps.

In their second game on the same pitch, Savage Masters also defeated Albion Masters; however the match was much closer.

Taking to the batting crease first, a solid 95 was smashed from the blade of John Sumair who led the Berbice team to 164 all out, one ball short of the full quota of 20 overs.

  1. Bojh also got amongst the runs with 45. Herbert Gentle and Randolph Pereira both picked up three wickets to halt the onslaught.

Savage then responded with 165-9 from 14.4 overs, winning the close contest by one wicket in the bag.

 Kennard Luke led the batting with 41while Malone and Singh made 31 and 18 respectively. Sumair tried valiantly to stop the Savage batting taking two wickets.

In the final match, HS Masters rebounded from their first match loss to beat Tropical Springs by four wickets. Tropical Springs batted first and went on to make 176-7 compliments of D. Ramdin making 71 and V. Baljit slamming 33. HS bowler, Manoj Arjune carted off figures 3-14 from his four overs.

In reply, HS Masters made good of their chase, scoring 177-6. H. Wright made 37, A. Sookram got 30 while R. Khan took two wickets.

The action continues with six matches this Sunday at the Carifesta Sports Complex, Carifesta Avenue where pitch one will see Tropical Springs taking on Ariel Masters and Fisherman XI going up against Wolf Warriors. On pitch two, four games are carded as Wolf Warriors will play Regal All Stars, Regal vs. Success, Mike’s Wellman vs. Wolf Warriors and Mike’s Wellman vs. Success.

While the lone match at Malteenoes Sports Complex, Thomas Lands brings together Mike’s Wellman and HS Masters


Gambhir back in Test squad after 2 years

– Ishant replaced due to prolonged illness

Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir

Opening batsman Gautam Gambhir has returned to India’s Test set-up two years after playing his previous international. He was called up for the remaining home Tests against New Zealand in place of the injured KL Rahul. Rahul had injured his right hamstring during the first Test in Kanpur, while running between the wickets.

Also, fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who missed the first Test with chikungunya, will not play the second Test either as he is yet to recover fully. Uncapped Haryana offspinner Jayant Yadav will replace Ishant in the squad for the second Test in Kolkata. The BCCI said in a release that it would “continue to monitor Ishant’s progress”.

Gambhir was picked after showing good form in the Duleep Trophy, the domestic first-class tournament featuring the top-performing players in the country. He scored 356 runs in the competition from five innings at 71.20, and was dismissed only once without getting to a half-century.

A BCCI insider said Gambhir was tough to ignore in the current situation given his form and experience. “Gambhir is definitely under consideration because he has been doing extremely well, and even the team management feels that with 12-13 Test matches coming up there needs to be some experience [at the top],” the official said.

Gambhir, 34, played his last Test in August 2014, on India’s tour to England. He aggregated 25 runs on that tour, from four innings, as India went from a 1-0 lead to losing the five-match series 3-1. That series, too, was a comeback for him, as he was dropped in 2012 and missed all India’s Tests in 2013 due to a sharp decline in form.

Before that, though, he was one half of India’s successful opening partnership with Virender Sehwag. The pair scored 4412 runs, the most by an opening pair for India in Tests. Overall, he has 4046 runs in 56 Tests at 42.58, with nine centuries, and was a regular in the Test team between 2008 and 2012.

Rahul was picked to play the Kanpur Test over the more experienced Shikhar Dhawan. On the preceding tour to the West Indies, too, he had been picked over either Dhawan or M Vijay in three of the four Tests, scoring a fifty and a hundred in three innings.

Apart from his offspin, Jayant, 26, can also contribute runs down the order. He put in solid performances on India A’s recent tour of Australia, picking up seven wickets in the unofficial Tests at 22.57 apiece. In the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy he topped Haryana’s bowling charts with 33 wickets, and in March this year he claimed a match haul of eight against Mumbai in the Irani Cup – a first-class match that pits the season’s Ranji champions against a Rest of India XI. He also has a first-class double-ton to his name and a record-breaking eighth-wicket stand of 392, scored in partnership with Amit Mishra in 2012. (ESPNcricinfo)


9 Guyanese riders in TICC

Stephano ‘Sunny’ Husbands

Stephano ‘Sunny’ Husbands

Cyclists from all over the world, including Guyana will meet at the Tour of Tobago’s 30th annual Tobago International Cycle Classic (TICC) which began on Tuesday September 27 and will go until October 2 in the twin Island Republic.

The six-day event got underway with the opening ceremony at the Johnston Apartments, Store Bay with riders coming from Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic Colombia, Sweden, Ecuador, Netherlands, Martinique, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, France, Canada, USA, Australia, Aruba Barbados and the host country.

Guyana is represented by nine of the top local riders including team Coco’s Stephano ‘Sunny’ Husbands, who won the Victor Mecedo Road Race last Sunday, his team mate, Hamza Eastman who finished second in the same race. Raynauth ‘Obeya Man’ Jeffrey, Jamual John, Andre Greene, Romello Crawford, Juban Crawford, Andrew Hicks and Geron Williams and they will be looking to stop defending champion, Marlon Rodman out of Jamaica.

John, Jeffrey, Eastman, Williams and Husbands are all in the Under 25 division with Williams in division one. Greene, Hicks and both Crawford are in division two.

The second leg of the four leg race is set to begin today alongside the Young Men’s Christian Association Pool in Courland, Turtle Beach.

The Division One riders battled over four laps/100km on the Turtle Beach/Les Coteaux, Arnos Vale Circuit while The Division Two riders competed over two laps/50km

Additionally on the cards is a three stage international Mountain Bike Race.


GCC teach UG a lesson

Wilson picks up hat-trick

Keon Morris

Keon Morris

Action continued in the New Building Society/ Georgetown Cricket Association (GCA) 40 overs second Division competition with Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) hosting GCA’s reigning two-day second division champions University of Guyana (UG) on Saturday.

UG won the toss and elected to bowl after the game was reduced to 30 overs due to overnight and early morning rain. The Bourda boys were pegged back and found themselves precariously placed on 27-3 following the loss of opening batsmen Emmanuel Forde (5), Samuel Mc Kenzie (9) and Timothy Mc Almont (5).

However a 47 runs partnership ensued between skipper Martin Pestano Belle (20) and Joshua Wade (21), but just as they were on the verge of pressing home the advantage they both lost their wicket.

It then took another partnership worth an unbroken 44 runs, this time between Stefan Wilson (16*) and Denzil Harry (21*) inclusive of three fours, to eventually take GCC to 133-6 off their allocated 30 overs. Dennis Heywood took 2-16 and Suresh Dhanai 2-26 for the university students.

Stefan Wilson

Stefan Wilson

UG were off to a terrible start when Skipper Melroy Stephenson was comprehensively bowled by right arm pacer Encosie Julian in the second over for 6 (1×4). Operation recovery for the Turkeyen based sided revolved around a fighting 51 runs partnership between Dwayne Dodson (27 2×4) and Former Guyana u-15 player Leon Williams 11.

After being comfortably placed at 67-1 UG then lost a cluster of wickets and were left tottering at 78-8. In this span Stefan Wilson took 4-15 which included a hat trick.

Four of the UG batsmen went back into the pavilion without troubling the scorers. Ray Newton contributed handily batting at number 10 to score a fighting 20* (1×4) but it was too late a surge to take his team home and they eventually crumbled to be all out for 106 off 19.5 overs. Joshua Wade took 2-25 to support Wilson.

The win was GCC second in two games after they defeated Transport Sports Club (TSC) in their first round encounter.

On that said day, TSC visited Gandhi Youth Organisation (GYO) and beat them by 40 runs in a game also reduced to 30 overs per side.

Shawn Massiah

Shawn Massiah

After being asked to bat first the visitors were dismissed for 144 in 25 overs with veteran player Shawn Massiah and Charwayne McPherson leading the way with 47 and 29 respectively. For the host Keishan Singh and Avilash Dookie were responsible for three wickets apiece while Trevon France captured 2-42.

In reply GYO struggled to 104 before they eventually collapsed. Only France (27) and national youth player Yeudistir Persaud (25) showed any prowess with the bat in their team low score.  Former national under-19 fast bowler Keon Morris claimed 3-27 while Kevin Ross picked up two wickets with his off spin bowling.


Whitewash complete

– West Indies slump to heavy defeat against Pakistan

Pakistan players gather around Imad Wasim to celebrate Dwayne Bravo’s wicket

Pakistan players gather around Imad Wasim to celebrate Dwayne Bravo’s wicket

Pakistan completed a 3-0 whitewash of West Indies with a comfortable eight-wicket win in Abu Dhabi that exposed the World T20 champions’ weaknesses in conditions not conducive to big hitting. Sent in to bat, West Indies stuttered to 103 for 5 in their 20 overs, failing to get into gear after losing three top-order wickets to Imad Wasim’s non-turning left-arm spin.

Chasing less than six runs an over, Pakistan were never under pressure, especially after Jerome Taylor sprayed the new ball around in his first two overs, conceding four leg-side fours, a leg-side wide, and a set of leg-byes down to the fine leg boundary. Kesrick Williams, the debutant fast bowler, dismissed both openers in the sixth over of the innings, but Pakistan easily shrugged that setback aside as Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik steered them home with an unbroken partnership of 68 for the third wicket. Malik ended the match off the first ball of the 16th over, shovelling Carlos Brathwaite for a six over long-on.

When they won the World T20 earlier this year, West Indies only really struggled in two games, a narrow win against South Africa and a defeat to Afghanistan. Both games came in Nagpur, the venue with the largest outfield and most spin-friendly pitch of the tournament. Abu Dhabi’s outfield is even larger, and while its pitch didn’t offer much turn, it didn’t give the batsmen much bounce or pace to work with. This meant West Indies would need to look outside their usual T20 template to find a trustworthy run-scoring method.

Marlon Samuels drives during his knock of 42 not out

Marlon Samuels drives during his knock of 42 not out

They didn’t. By the start of the ninth over, three of their batsmen had been bowled by Imad’s stock in-ducker, and only one of them, Chadwick Walton, could claim mitigating circumstances. Having just come to the crease, he was undone by a back-of-a-length ball that crept through him at shin height.

The previous ball, knowing fully well the dangers of going across the line to an unfailingly stump-to-stump bowler on a pitch of low bounce, Johnson Charles had attempted a slog-sweep and missed. Then, Dwayne Bravo, having added 14 with Marlon Samuels in 21 balls, was bowled through the gate going for an open-faced sliced drive.

In typical T20 conditions, it is almost essential for batting teams to take such risks. In the specific circumstances of Tuesday’s game, West Indies needed a different approach. Perhaps they needed to peek into the Virat Kohli/MS Dhoni playbook, perhaps, and bunt the ball towards deep fielders and push for twos.

West Indies didn’t try that approach: they only ran nine twos in their 20 overs. Not coincidentally, Marlon Samuels, never the fleetest or most enthusiastic runner between the wickets, was at the crease for all but 2.3 overs of the innings. From the non-striker’s end, he also played a part in Andre Fletcher getting run out in the fifth over.

In the end, Samuels finished unbeaten on 42 off 59 balls, but he was by no means alone in struggling to up the tempo. Conditions are certainly not conducive to big hitting when Kieron Pollard ends up not out on 16 off 17 balls without hitting a boundary or a six.

A lot of this was down to Pakistan’s bowling. The spinners hit an awkward, short-of-good-length area and attacked the stumps, the ideal strategy for a pitch with low bounce, denying the batsman the opportunity to get on the front foot while also imperiling the horizontal-bat shots. The three left-arm seamers, including the debutant Rumman Raees, hit the same sort of length while constantly taking pace off the ball.

The few boundaries that came were off rare deliveries that offered a bit of swinging room: Samuels played a crisp front-foot cut off Imad, and pulled a too-short slower ball from Sohail Tanvir; Nicholas Pooran slog-swept Mohammad Nawaz into the grass banks, a shot that may have cleared the stadium roof in Sharjah.

Two balls later, West Indies were served another reminder of the difficulty of hitting big shots on this ground, as Pooran connected meatily with another big swing only to pick out deep midwicket. (ESPNcricinfo)


Wills fails to shoot Rockers over Jammers

neil-willsA game high 17 points by Berbice top player Neil Wills failed to secure a win for Smithfield Rockers against Rose Hall Jammers when play continued on Sunday in the A. Ally and Sons Basketball Tournament at the Fyrish Basketball Court on the Corentyne.

Despite, Will’s brilliance, the hero of the game was Michael King whose 10 points ensured the Jammers a 51-48 win over favorites Smithfield Rockers.

King got good support from Mickel Lewis (10) and Kebon Emanuel (8).

Jammers led most of the close encounter but stayed ahead at the end of each quarter; 12-11, 25-22, 37-34, 51-48.

In a losing effort, Michael Bowen (13) and Cledwin Cort (9) gave support to Wills.

Meanwhile, the competition continues on Sunday with Jammers taking on New Amsterdam Warriors at the Area ‘H’ Ground.

The tournament is being played in two zones with each team playing the other twice. Games are being played on a home and away basis.

Zone ‘A’ consists of Rosehall Jammers, New Amsterdam Warriors, and Smithfield Rockers while Zone ‘B’ has Fyrish Black Sharks, Ithaca Hardliners and GHD Basketball Team.

The tournament is being organised by President of the Berbice Basketball Association Vibert Garnett and sponsored by A. Ally and Sons.


Confident bodybuilding team jets off to the DR

Members of the head table at Olympic House on Tuesday (from left) Franklin Brisport-Luke, Kevon Bess, Alicia Fortune, Emmerson Campbell and Devon Davis

Members of the head table at Olympic House on Tuesday (from left) Franklin Brisport-Luke, Kevon Bess, Alicia Fortune, Emmerson Campbell and Devon Davis

The six-member team representing the Golden Arrowhead at the 44th annual Central American and Caribbean Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation Championship (CAC) is positive ahead of their departure on Wednesday.

Experience is one of the key elements the six- member team will be using to their advantage when they arrive for competition in the Dominican Republic.

The team consists of Alicia Fortune, Kerwin Clarke, Emmerson Campbell, Devon Davis, Franklin Brisport-Luke and surprise addition, Bruce Whatley.

President of the Guyana Amateur Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation, Kevon Bess, spoke to the media at Olympic House, Kingston Georgetown and said that he is sure the team will represent Guyana well and return home with medals.

“It is without doubt the athletes continuously improve their body and it becomes a daily practice and I think we stand a very good chance.” Bess stated

According to Bess, Alicia Forture will be representing the country in the female body fitness division while Emmerson Campbell will take part in the Men’s Physique category, however his height will determine which category he fits. Devon Davis will be heading out to defend his silver medal in the Bantamweight which he won in 2015 at the same event. Kerwin Clarke who is the reigning Mr. Guyana is expected to cop gold and overseas based Bruce Whatley will be heading over as well as the lone official, Franklin Brisport-Luke who will be looking to further his qualification as a bodybuilding judge alongside Frank Tucker.

While the team will be spare headed by Clarke, Campbell, who will be representing in the men’s Physique category noted that he is ready to win having finished fourth last year.

“Well I focused a lot on my nutrition and rest.” Adding, “I change up training regimen so I know exactly what to do, last year I got my feet wet but this year I will definitely bring home a medal no doubt,” a positive Campbell explained.

While both of the young men have had experience, the exposures in CAC Championships Fortune and Davis have achieved trumps the pair.

Davis, has tasted gold in the CAC as well as currently defending silver medalist in the bantamweight category, the champion is positive he will be bringing home the gold.

“I saw my flaws last time and I correct it and I will be looking for gold and I train hard to bring it home.” Davis pointed out.

Fortune as well is no stranger to the big stage but facing a minor setback, she is still in contention of medaling.

Highlighting that “Experience is important,” The female physique contender said she has been “putting in hard work lately, unfortunately having to do a surgery I couldn’t prepare but I had two months training with Hugh Ross I put in hard work and I leave nothing undone. I will do my best to do my country proud and fly the Guyana flag high.”

Bess added that “Campbell looks better, so I am hoping he returns with gold, Fortune knows her work and Clarke is bigger and better.”

The Guyana team has placed a lot of emphasis on their diet, a stand out feature that bodybuilding veteran, Frank Tucker would note is an integral part of medaling. The team is set to depart Guyana toady.

The competition runs from September 29 to October 2.


Indigenous Guyanese have much to be thankful for – Garrido-Lowe

Minister within the Indigenous People's Affairs Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe

Minister within the Indigenous People’s Affairs Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe

Indigenous Guyanese today have much to be thankful for, particularly the contributions of Guyana’s first Indigenous parliamentarian, Stephen Campbell.

The life of this renowned Guyanese, a descendant of the Arawak people, was celebrated on Monday at the Umana Yana as the Indigenous People’s Affairs Ministry prepared to wrap up its celebrations of Amerindian Heritage Month 2016.

Leading the discourse on his life and the significant role he played in making way for the freedom and opportunities afforded to Amerindians today, Minister within the Indigenous People’s Affairs Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe recalled the struggles endured by Campbell, particularly during the lead-up to Guyana’s Independence back in 1966.

Describing Campbell as a visionary, Garrido-Lowe said Indigenous Guyanese today, 50 years later, have a lot to be thankful for.

She said during the Independence struggles, Campbell had been attending meetings, Parliament and other places. “He wanted to make sure those Indigenous brothers and sisters were safe in their lands,” she said. His quest for this took him to meet the Queen of England at the time.

“We must never forget the path Stephen Campbell paved in our lives as Indigenous people today. Today in the hinterland, of the 212 villages, many of us own our own lands. So this whole process of Indigenous having their lands is because of the brave and visionary Stephen Campbell,” Garrido-Lowe told fellow Amerindians.

Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock said the great Stephen Campbell began the process of championing the rights of Amerindians. He said the Indigenous community seemed to have a shortcoming in celebrating its heroes.

“This is something we must correct. In honouring our heroes, we help the world better understand us and what we represent. We help to draw the world’s attention to the importance of our role in history. We record our own history, we become the heroes of our story,” such were the words of Stephen Campbell.

Campbell was the first Amerindian Member of Parliament in Guyana. He was elected to the Legislative Council of British Guiana on September 10, 1957.

Campbell was born in Moruca, a sub-district of the Barima-Waini Region, the northernmost part of Guyana, on December 26, 1897. His father was Tiburtio A Campbell, a boat builder, and his mother was Maria Dos Santos nee Osorio. Both parents died when he was very young and he was brought up by his grandmother whom he credited with teaching him the core principles of life: “religion and discipline”. He was a student of the Santa Rosa Mission School.

Amerindians feared that after Independence, whatever rights they enjoyed would then be ignored and the lands on which they have lived for thousands of years would be expropriated.

Campbell travelled to London to present a petition and lobby the British Government for recognition of Amerindian land rights. On his return, he set up the Amerindian Association to mobilise Amerindian pressure on the Independence Commission to ensure that Amerindians’ interests were taken into account in the Independence negotiations. Thus when Guyana attained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, the legal ownership by Indigenous peoples of land and rights of occupancy were embodied in the Independence provisions.

Campbell died on May 12, 1966 – two weeks before British Guiana gained Independence from Britain. He is the main reason that Amerindian Heritage Day is celebrated on September 10 – this was the day he was elected to Parliament. He has spearheaded a historic change in bringing to the fore the vital and rightful place of the Amerindian in the mainstream of life in Guyana and its future development. During the observance, some 18 Indigenous Guyanese were honoured for more than 25 years of service to the Indigenous community and Guyana in various areas. Among them were Rita Rebeiro, a teacher of Moruca Region One (Barima-Waini); the designer of the $10 coin, Ignatius; retired Army Captain John Flores; Trinidad-based Guyanese Journalist Miranda LaRose; the first Indigenous Priest Hannon Bennet (Posthumous) and Sculptor and University of Guyana lecturer, Winslow Craig.