Message by the Honourable Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, on the occasion of Chinese Arrival Day 2018
Georgetown, Guyana – (January 12, 2018)
Guyanese across the length and breadth of the country are joining together today to celebrate Chinese Arrival Day. Today marks 165 years since our Chinese brothers and sisters first arrived on these shores on January 12, 1853.
From 1853-1879, a total of 13,541 Chinese, which comprised a diverse group who hailed from different regions, spoke different dialects and embraced different religious and cultural beliefs, from China, were scattered across the counties of Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo. They were among the smallest group of indentured labourers brought to Guyana, and initially comprised only men. Later on, a small number of Chinese women were brought to serve as indentured labourers. On completion of their indentureship many of them returned to China or emigrated to different parts of the Caribbean. Of the lot them remained, several of them became astute businessmen and engaged in commercial pursuits, including becoming barbers and tradesmen.
Today, their descendants form part of the fabric of the Guyanese society and have made significant contributions to nation-building in the academic, sports and entrepreneurial fields. Some of the most distinguished Guyanese of Chinese
descent are former Chief Justice, Ian Chang; General Surgeon, Mr. Wallace Lee; Mathematician, Mr. Claude Lee; Entrepreneur, Mr. Stanley Ming and Cricketer Mr. Johnathon Foo. Most notably, the first President of Independent Guyana, the late Arthur Chung, was of Chinese descent.
In addition, Chinese organisations such as the Chinese Sports Club, have also made significant contributions to sports in Guyana. At one time the Club even boasted of having the leading hockey team in Guyana, which claimed victory in all the tournaments that it participated in in 1974.
As we observe the second annual Chinese Arrival Day, I want to encourage all of Guyana to take the time to appreciate the contributions made by Chinese Guyanese. I also want to implore persons who are Guyanese of Chinese descent to be cognisant of your roots and I want to encourage you to keep the vibrant culture of your foreparents alive.
As Minister of Social Cohesion, I have been tasked by His Excellency, President David Granger, to lead the Government’s efforts of creating a unified country. I acknowledge that Social Cohesion is a process that will require input from all Guyanese as achieving solidarity entails fostering respect and appreciation for all cultures and traditions. What we as a Government want to see is Guyanese from all walks of life embracing the immense beauty that is there in our diversity.
Therefore, I encourage each of you to maintain the vibrancy of your own cultures, while you practise respect, foster love and enjoyment of the cultures of your fellow Guyanese.
In 2018, let us endeavour to truly become ‘One People’, living in ‘One Nation’, following ‘One Destiny.’
Happy Chinese Arrival Day Guyana!