MESSAGE FROM THE HON. MINISTER OF SOCIAL COHESION WITH RESPONSIBILITY FOR CULTURE, YOUTH AND SPORT, DR. GEORGE NORTON ON THE OCCASION OF EMANCIPATION DAY 2019
It has been said that “Freedom is never granted, it is won.” On August 1, 1838, Guyana won when our African ancestors were finally emancipated from the barbaric practice that is slavery.
After 181 years, despite the atrocities inflicted on our foreparents, we stand firm in celebrating Emancipation Day as a reminder of their resilience and bravery.
Emancipation is also an appropriate time to reflect on the shaping of the Guyanese identity. Brothers and sisters, the year 1838 is perhaps the most significant in our country’s history. It not only marked the end of slavery, but it also triggered the immigration of Portuguese, Indian and Chinese indentured labourers, who, together with the indigenous Amerindians, shaped the culturally distinct nation that we cherish today.
Furthermore, the end of slavery signaled the beginning of a newfound independence for our emancipated ancestors; an independence that also showcased a high degree of social cohesion, as they came together and pooled their resources to embark on the formation of many communities throughout Guyana.
Even after all these years, their success in establishing united and self-sufficient communities deserve to be emulated.
I believe that the most meaningful way for us to observe this Emancipation is to embrace the diversity that it produced and work towards building this great nation that we have inherited.
Let us embrace the traditions of cohesion practiced by our ancestors, and exercise the spirit of resilience and courage in fighting against all forms of injustices and bigotry.
On behalf of the Ministry of the Presidency, Department of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport, I wish all Guyanese at home and abroad a blessed Emancipation!