“Victoria village, great grandmother of all villages”- Pres. Granger
─ joins 180th-anniversary celebrations
DPI, Guyana, Sunday, November 10, 2019
“The Guyanese nation will be forever grateful to Victoria.”
His Excellency, President David Granger, made this statement on Saturday evening, as he addressed thousands of East Coast of Demerara residents, at the Victoria Community Centre Ground.
Headlining the village’s commemoration ceremony in honour of the 180th anniversary of its purchase, the Head of State said that long before he became president, he selected the historic day as the National Day of Villages due to the date of its purchase. This was done by way of a parliamentary motion on November 7, 2013, but never assented to or implemented by the then PPP government.
“I’m a patient man; 2014 came, and Victoria celebrated its 175th anniversary… so, I waited until the 11th of November 2015, and with your help, I proclaimed the 7th of November every year as the National Day of Villages”, he said, to rapturous applause.
The president described Victoria as the “the great grandmother of all villages” and recalled the struggle of the village’s forefathers who, “started the great village movement.”
“It is Victoria that lit the flame that encouraged us to dream of equality of all people. The prospect of economic prosperity and the meaning of true liberty, after the most degrading punishment as enslaved labourers on the plantations of Guyana. It was Victoria which showed us how illiterate people who couldn’t even sign their names; people who buried their coins in the ground, not rich people, were able to transform an abandoned plantation into a prosperous village. It was Victoria which led the way, and showed how we could establish model villages, converting plantations from Skeldon to the Poomeroon, into a string of human habitations.”
He said that the nation pays homage to their fore-parents for what they have wrought in this country. Noting that as much as 60% of Guyanese reside in villages, President Granger added that all races can trace their ancestry to the villages which must be honoured. The Coalition Government, he added, believes that villages must be allowed to run their own affairs and manage their communities.
“That is why we are so keen on restoring local democracy.” He underscored, “I am a constitutional president. I won’t refuse to have Local Government Elections for 20 years. I won’t uproot democratically elected councils and install IMCs. That is why you made a good choice on May 11th of 2015, and that is why you will make a bigger choice on the 2nd of March 2020. Our government, your government is committed to local democracy!”
The Head of State cited the creation of Village Improvement Plans. These VIPs, he explained, will ensure the villages are used as economic, political, cultural and social machines to improve the lives of people, countrywide.
“Just as it led the village movement 180 years ago, I see the Victorians leading village renewal in years to come. I intend to come back in 2039 when you celebrate your 200th anniversary. I’ll be here so you have something to look forward to.”
The president also spoke about, the ‘Decade of Development’, which will see the rebuilding of the institutions of villages to ensure their continuity.
“It is a serious plan to move Guyana forward into the ranks of developed nations.”
He added that whilst some had their eyes on the new oil and gas sector, his government will ensure profits are used for the benefit of all Guyanese.
“We will put the better part of that petroleum revenue to ensure that your children are never poor again.”
In closing, the president, prior to requesting all sing “happy birthday to Victoria”, asked stakeholders to recapture the spirit of 1839.
“You’ve seen it on display. Change came 180 years ago, and change is continuous. We will continue to change this country once we have people with the energy and the foresight of our forefathers and the present generation of Victorians. I urge that these changes continue beyond the next decade of development. Tonight, we are all Victorians. Tonight, all of us share in this glorious heritage. Whether you are from Vreed-en-Hoop or Vryheid’s Lust, whether you are from Vlissingen or Versailles, tonight we are all Victorians!”
Also delivering brief remarks was Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Basil Williams SC. He described the East Coast Demerara community’s milestone as historic and commended the Victoria Day Committee, and the village’s Youth Development Organisation for all the work put into organising the event
The programme included performances by the National School of Dance and the Victoria Assembly of God Group, traditional African drumming, Folk songs by the Korokwa Singers and Victoria’s Children’s Group, Spoken word by Ahmed Parks, Drama pieces by the Drama Company, renditions by the Buxton Steel Orchestra and Masquerade performances by the Victoria Renegades.
Victoria Village, formerly named Plantation Northbrook, was founded after being purchased by eighty-three former slaves on November 7, 1839. It was the first village bought by free men and women in the colony and set an example for other communities to follow, launching what has since become known as “The village movement.” The village, still agriculturally based, is known for its coconut, cassava and agricultural production.