I applaud the organisers of Buxton First of August Movement (BFAM) for planning and hosting emancipation celebrations that commemorate the liberation of African slaves. This is a vibrant, dynamic community, the like of which are almost non-existent in the country. The members are committed and dedicated to a worthy cause. Other communities should emulate this group to commemorate African emancipation, abolition of indentureship, and our first (Amerindian) peoples.
As the Buxton organisers note, the varied planned “activities serve as a mobilisation tool for the reawakening of the emancipation spirit of African people”. One can’t help but admire the work of these outstanding African community activists. Although from different parties, and some were victims of Burnham’s terrible governance, they come together to celebrate their identity. Their former enmity and differences do not prevent them from collaborating and working together to engage in activities beneficial to their people. These are a very proud people whose nationalism, concern for their community, and activities should be saluted and emulated by the rest of Guyana. The organisation’s celebration warrants our support. People of other ethnic groups should join our African brethren in this celebration of their freedom from slavery – it was a long, hard battle to end this dehumanising form of labour.
Like the Africans, Indians are also marking their liberation from another dehumanising form of labour – indentured servitude – with similar activities to the Buxtonians being planned next March to commemorate the centennial of emancipation of Indians from indentured bondage. Similar to how our African brethren in Buxton are observing emancipation anniversary, Indians also plan to host activities throughout Guyana to examine the way forward for the Indian community. The Indian organisers also plan a series of lectures on indenturedship, film festival, panel discussion of the state of the Indian community, ethnic relations, symposiums, seminars, a convention, a play, cultural presentations, and an academic conference open to the public. Those wishing to make contributions or offer suggestions on the commemoration or desiring further information on the planned programme on marking the end of indentureship can write to IndianDiasporaCouncil@gmail.com.
As the People’s Progressive Party Government did during its tenure to sponsor emancipation celebrations throughout the country, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change coalition should continue this tradition and fund the African celebrations. Similar sponsorship should be given to organisers of next March observance of the centennial of the British Government’s legislation abolishing Indian indentureship as well as to other ethnic groups celebration their liberation and or culture. We should learn to celebrate each other’s culture.