President David Granger last night said this year’s independence anniversary serves as an inspiration to continue to work towards preserving the “free state,” establishing a “green state” and creating a “cohesive state.”
In his independence message, Granger explained that on May 26, 1966, Guyana established a free state, which recognizes our common and complex heritage, with the hope of ensuring equality and eradicating poverty.
“The ‘free state’ is one that is free from discrimination; it is one that is built on the basis of respect for cultural diversity, political inclusivity and social equality,” he said, before adding that it also “re-commits us to dismantling the divisions of geography.”
The president stressed that Independence Day celebrates the unique combination of the people who came – Africans, Chinese, Indians and Portuguese – and who, with the Amerindians, who lived here from time immemorial, contributed to the creation of a multi-racial and multi-religious state.
He noted that the free state that was established recognized a commitment to social cohesion through which citizens learn to accept and respect each other’s values and beliefs and to share the common space they call their homeland.
A “cohesive state,” he argued, is not a political expedient but can only be realized by respecting the differences and the diversity of society and by the removal of anger, hatred, ignorance and poverty. “It can be created by mutual respect for each other’s cultural and religious differences,” he said.
Granger added that the ‘green state’ is the natural product of the environment. “Our ecosystems – our coastland, hinterland, highlands, islands, wetlands, grasslands, lakes, rivers, rainforests and waterfalls – are our birthright,” he said before later saying that the ‘green state’ can flourish and can furnish a ‘good life’ for generations to come by engendering a spirit of shared social responsibility. “The ‘green state’ must embody a common commitment to the environment that arises from our unique, shared patrimony and that will lead to a prosperous future,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton, in his independence message, called for Guyanese to remember and recognise all those persons who played a role in fighting for Independence.
“Let us reflect on our achievements to date and resolve to move forward with all others in a spirit of shared nationhood as we endeavour to further realise our national motto: “One People, One Nation, One Destiny,” Norton encouraged.
He explained that it was because of the hard work of the former Presidents Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham and Janet Jagan as well as trade unionists Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, Jocelyn Hubbard and Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud that the country is able to chart its own destiny.
The minister, however, took the time to remind the citizens that with the right of self-determination comes responsibilities, such as the responsibility to continually move Guyana’s development forward with the same resoluteness as their ancestors. “Guyana has come a long way and we have even further to go. If we tackle head-on the challenges before us in unity we can overcome them sooner. We cannot have greater unity if we do not respect each other, embrace our diversities and demonstrate tolerance when confronted by our differences,” Norton stressed before adding that his ministry endeavours to take the lead in the vital process of nationhood by nurturing individual and community relationships towards building a more unified country.