The turning of the sod and burial of the coins at the Parade Ground in 2000 represented a pledge made to the spirit of the ancestors

Dear Editor,

In life it is always in our interest to have a game plan for the purpose of giving structure to our thoughts.  It is through adhering to the tenets of that game plan, and by making adjustments to the game plan when needed, that we are able to arrive at actions that we are able to effect with purpose and act with confidence.  All game plans must address first a need.  The need must be assessed for relevance, and be prioritised.  The next stages would be general acceptance and implementation. In the year 1823 Africans in British Guiana (Guyana) attempted a revolutionary change in respect to the relationship to their labour power.  Because they chose to express their human rights, and they attempted to do so in a relatively non-violent manner, they were massacred, and some heads were displayed on locations along the East Coast Demerara.  In addition to such a gruesome display of barbarism by the militia and British forces who were avowed Christians, some other Africans who were captured were taken to the Parade Ground of the militia, an area comprising at that time the present Promenade Gardens and Independence Park (Parade Ground.)  Following a court martial a few Africans were deported from British Guiana, and others were executed in the Parade Ground with the heads of ten of those executed Africans being displayed on poles in the fort near the seawall.

The children of those Africans are yet to demand in a serious and structured manner, compensation and reparation for the barbaric and tragic assault on the human rights of our fore-parents.  However, we the ‘children’ of the victims alone have first and final say in determining how our foreparents will be remembered.  Any planning for a monument to the ancestors of an ethnic or racial group can only be culturally specific.  Why is it that the monument to immortalise the memory of our African foreparents is prevented from having all the cultural relevancies?

Is this déjà-vu? Our foreparents thought that petitioning would have given them redress.  It gave them betrayal and death.

The Minister of Culture misdirected the people of Guyana in respect to the desire of the family and friends of our artistic hero, the late Baba Moore, to have his body put to rest in Seven Ponds. Why is he misleading the Guyanese public once more?  Why would the Minister of Culture be at a loss to find a place to house our monument to the 1823 Martyrs, when the leader of his party and the then President of the country, Mr Bharrat Jagdeo, pledged to our foreparents by the turning of the sod and the burying of coins respectively, that their souls would be put to rest at the location where their blood was shed. We would like to make it absolutely clear by reiterating that the turning of the sod, and the burying of the coins respectively on August 1, 2000, were a physical gesture and a spiritual pledge solemnly made to the Spirit of our Ancestors, that the location where their blood was shed would be held by all as sacred ground.

We need to say no more.  Historical precedent put our Monument as priority over any persons playing football on the Parade Ground.  We are confident that when the truth is told about the history of the Parade Ground, no African would be prepared to play football again on the Sacred Shrine of his or her ancestors.

Yours faithfully,
Penda Guyan
Coalition for the1823 Monument to the
Parade Ground

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