‘Guyanese stand on the shoulders of freedom fighters’

─ Eric Phillips in Emancipation message

 DPI, Guyana, Friday, July 27, 2018

Guyanese enjoy the benefits of a free country thanks to the struggles of three fallen heroes, Cuffy, Quamina and Damon, says ACDA’s Executive member, Eric Phillip in acknowledging the upcoming Emancipation Day.

Cuffy, who was captured in his native West Africa and stolen for slavery to work on the plantations of the Dutch colony of Berbice, in 1763 led a revolt of more than 2,500 slaves.

ACDA’s Executive member, Eric Phillips

While his yearlong attempt was futile, it was considered the first true attempt in the region by enslaved Africans to gain their freedom. It is, for this reason, Phillips believes that Cuffy is the true father of the nation: “We hear this argument that somebody is the father of the nation in political terms but the true father of the nation is Cuffy. That is why he is our national icon, our national hero, but because of this dialogue about who is the father of the nation, and it not being historically correct, we find that few Guyanese fully acknowledge Cuffy as our national hero.”

Meanwhile, Quamina was instrumental in the uprising of more than ten thousand enslaved Africans on Plantation Success, Demerara in 1823. His actions, according to researchers, fast-tracked the emancipation process.

Here’s a fun fact: Quamina Street was once named John Murray street, after the Governor who put down the rebellion. The street was renamed in the freedom fighter’s honour in 1985. A monument to him is erected at the junction of Quamina and Carmichael Streets.

According to Phillips, Damon who led the 1834 rebellion in Essequibo was the first to advocate non-violent protest before the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Damon’s ideology for non-violent protest is not something that is recognised by Guyanese as noteworthy.

“We should really appreciate Damon, we do not. The statue is in Anna Regina so it is far away from where the majority of the people are but before there was a Mahatma Gandhi before there was a Martin Luther King, Damon was the icon, non-violent protest but we do not recognise Damon in those terms but that’s what he did. He was a precursor to Mandela, the precursor to Mahatma Gandhi in terms of how to solve problems.”

August 1, 2018, will mark 180 years since enslaved Africans along with the rest of the Caribbean gained their freedom.

By: Isaiah Braithwaite

Image: Leroy Lyttle