This month marks 175 years since the abolition of slavery in Guyana, a significant milestone in our national calendar.
Slavery as we all know was finally abolished in 1838 which paved the way for the introduction into the colony of indentured labourers, the majority of whom came from India.
This is a good occasion to reflect on the long and difficult road we have travelled over the decades in our quest for nationhood.
To say that our foreparents suffered at the hands of the planter class is an understatement. They were stripped of their dignity and humanity by a brutal and ruthless system of oppression in which the only reason for their being was to provide free labour to the plantocracy.
The system was as oppressive as it was dehumanizing, but the slave-masters underestimated the strength, resilience and intellect of their subjects and their capacity to rebel and resist even against the odds.
We owe a deep sense of gratitude to our fore parents for having laid a strong foundation for the development of this country.
We have evolved today into a society in which there is a high level of ethnic tolerance and appreciation for diversity. Indeed we are enriched by our diversity and have today achieved a degree of multiculturalism that is not present in many other ethnically diverse societies.
Let us all as we pay homage to our ancestors pledge to contribute in our own modest ways to build a cohesive and prosperous country which every Guyanese could be proud of regardless of political affiliation or ethnic make-up.