President David Granger on Sunday committed to ensuring that a memorial is built at the Independence Park in Cummingsburg next year to commemorate the 195th anniversary of the 1823 Demerara Slave Revolt.
He also announced that August 20 will from now on be recognised as ‘Demerara Martyrs’ Day, according to a release from the Ministry of the Presidency.
The President made the announcement at the commemorative ceremony to mark the 194th anniversary of the 1823 Demerara Revolt, which was held at the site of the Monument on Atlantic Avenue. He said that while the event is modestly commemorated in Bachelors’ Adventure on the East Coast of Demerara, he will ensure that the Memorial is erected at the Park (also known as Parade Ground) where the history is buried.
The former PPP/C government had erected a monument to the 1823 revolt on a swathe of land between the seawall road and Carifesta Avenue in close proximity to the Kitty Pump Station and opposite the GDF Officers Mess at Camp Ayanganna. This was done against the wishes of prominent Afro-Guyanese groups which had wanted the memorial at Parade Ground which was associated with the events that followed the revolt.
“The Demerara Revolt is remembered in the village of Bachelors’ Adventure where the massacre occurred. The villagers built their own modest memorial to the Martyrs. I have published a Presidential order declaring 20th August ‘Demerara Martyrs’ Day’ and I have promised to erect a memorial at Independence Park to commemorate the massacre on its 195th anniversary in August 2018,” Granger told the gathering along the seawall.
The President said that the massacre was a turning point in Guyanese and colonial history. “We are assembled to pay homage to the more than 200 martyrs, who were killed on a single morning and to the uncounted others, who were summarily executed in succeeding days. The massacre took place at Plantation Bachelor’s Adventure, where the main body of troops commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Thomas Leahy confronted over 2,000 rebels. Martial Law was proclaimed and, after some talk, the troops were ordered to attack,” he said.
The release said that while a formal Court Martial was convened in Georgetown on August 25, 1823 under Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Arthur Goodman, public executions took place on the Militia Parade Ground, now known as Independence Park in Cummingsburg.
The Head of State said that it is important that all Guyanese commemorate this event so that future generations will not forget that their freedom was bought at the high price of the martyrdom of hundreds of enslaved Africans.