The preamble to our 1980 Constitution affirmed that slavery, indentureship and the concomitant resistance to the colonial plantocracy, formed the historic backdrop of the evolution of our nation-state.

Our Constitution pays homage to the “indomitable spirit and unconquerable will” of our African forefathers who, “by their sacrifices, their blood and their labour” bequeathed to us this dear land of Guyana. It salutes those “immortal leaders who, in the vanguard of battle, kept aloft the banner of freedom by the example of their courage, their fortitude and their martyrdom”.

What are not captured in those lofty words were the sufferings and sacrifices of Africans under slavery. So, today, as always, “Emancipation” should be a sweet word on the lips of every Guyanese of African ancestry, and I congratulate you most heartily as you cherish and celebrate this day.

I ask that our people of African origin continue to forge, with all other Guyanese, a common identity and, whatever our ancestral roots, we must recommit ourselves to building a strong and united Guyana.

As we celebrate, we must remember that the price for freedom is unity and vigilance. I exhort you to guard our freedom, to protect the gains of our historic and contemporary struggles, to keep alive the dreams of our ancestors for the good life. I ask you that, together with all other sections of the Guyanese society, to ensure that our Nation remain in safe hands by reposing full confidence in and support for David Arthur Granger as President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Happy Emancipation Day!