After making my presentation on Sunday, 20th August 2017 at the Atlantic Avenue Georgetown the site of the 1823 Monument, people have been calling for my speech to be published in the print media.
An edited version follows:
“On this fateful day Wednesday 20th of August 1823 over 200 of our ancestors were massacred at Bachelors Adventure on the East Coast of Demerara. Many of those enslaved Africans came from plantations that stretched from Mahaica to Le Resouvenir on the East Coast of Demerara.
The scars of the atrocities committed against our foreparents are very noticeable unto this day in the community of Bachelors Adventure, that was abandoned as a result of our ancestors’ action against the evil system of slavery.
“This all changed when the government of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham came to power in 1964. Our community was inspired by great leadership; we were encouraged to pave our mud dams through self-help labour with material assistance coming from the government; and from our vantage point we watched the estate communities flourish where dwelled the planter class which stole some of our backlands after our forefathers had pooled their resources to purchase villages.
“The African village movement was born out of the struggle of our ancestors, and our young people must be taught the characteristics that embodied this noble movement. We must no longer be subjected to racial discrimination that until recent times plagued our communities, we must at all times be prepared to defend the gains of the revolution. We dug the canals and conservancies by hand; we are the architects of drainage and irrigation all across Guyana’s coastal region. We erected the sea defences; we were the early educationists and health workers with our traditional knowledge of medicine; we were the midwives and doctors; we excelled in the legal system and opened up the mining industry through pork-knocking.
“The time has come for us to reflect on our past and where we are today. As a people we have become very careless, carefree and uncooperative in our communities, with a serious dependency syndrome taking a grip on our young people all waiting for the government to do everything for them while they are consumed in sprees and partying while disregarding social, cultural and economic responsibilities.
“Our young people must take pride in the way they dress or they will always be shut out from the mainstream of economic activity in this prosperous nation; we must all become pioneers for hinterland development, and there must be a resurgence of National Service.
Parents must be prepared to stand up against these unwelcome habits of dressing and bleaching our skins which causes skin cancer. Let us remain black and proud; we are all blessed.
A large percentage of our young people show no respect for elders; there is a moral decay that is eating away at the core of our villages resulting in serious under development.
“Literate villages and towns will at all times prosper agriculturally, industrially and commercially. Illiteracy will foster poverty, crime and violence and this we must be mindful of. Our forefathers laid down their lives fighting for the liberation of today’s generation, and it is through laying down their lives that the Emancipation of slavery became a reality on the 1st of August 1834.
“Let not their struggle be in vain; let us rekindle the spirit of the early African village movement which was founded on cooperatives.
“Let me take time to emphasize the importance of education in empowering individuals, building strong families, liberating communities and ensuring a prosperous nation where all can enjoy that good life promised by President David Granger.
“We can learn from the developed world with their many institutions of learning that promote agro industry, information technology and most of all, a green economy.
We must boost the capacity of the University of Guyana and with a booming oil economy and every town must see the establishment of a University of Guyana campus.
The plight of our young people regarding unemployment, poverty and crime must be addressed through research and project implementation at the community level.
“Sports and cultural activities help to positively mould the character of young people and eliminate the high incidence of mortality caused by non-communicable diseases, through lack of physical activity at the community level. Our population is highly obese; we need a body that can adequately ensure that our playfields all across the country are always in good shape. Once this happens the residents will ensure there is always organized sport and cultural activities, Crime will be at a minimum, there will be a better community relationship and residents will look out for one another; our people will slowly and surely get rid of behaviours that promote ethnic divisions.
“Those new housing schemes which were built under the previous administration are mainly without sports and cultural facilities; communities need community centres and playfields; this is the basis on which progressive communities are built, this is how deviance is addressed among the youth.
“We need more social workers, sports and cultural organisers, coaches, psychologists and physiotherapists to work with our young people.
“Too many of our young people are ending up in prison for being in possession of small amounts of marijuana, on account of a law which came into being under the Desmond Hoyte administration and which has turned innocent young men and women to a life of crime in an overcrowded prison that offers no sound rehabilitation programme. I therefore call on the government to address these punitive measures for small amounts of marijuana, something that is promoted on our radio and television programmes, especially by the music that is fed to our children. These young people are victims of a system that promote the use of marijuana through the media which is not censored.
“Then there are those political intellectuals who are critical of everything the government seeks to address with the aim of gaining political power from within and out of the APNU+AFC coalition. I beg the President to remain strong and committed to the development of this beautiful land of ours ensuring transparency and accountability in every institution of government.”