President David Granger while sharing the message of social cohesion, yesterday, told Berbicians at Highbury Village, East Bank Berbice that Guyana’s diversity was an asset and not a liability.
The president, who was at the time speaking at the Indian Arrival Day celebration held yesterday midday, noted that Guyana has always been, and will always be a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country, somethings the citizens should be proud of.
“Our diversity is an asset not a liability. We are proud of the variegated tapestry of ethnicity. We are proud of our shared past as we plan our common future,” President Granger said.
Touching on the economic expansion that came from the arrival of Indians 180 years ago in then British Guiana, the president observed that the ancestors’ resourcefulness and their agrarian roots in rural India were transplanted in Guyana.
“Indian skills in paddy and vegetable farming, coconut cultivation and cattle rearing; and their skills as boatmen, charcoal burners, goldsmiths, fishermen, hucksters, milk and sweetmeat vendors, shop keepers and tailors enriched the entire economy,” Guyana’s Head of State said.
President Granger stressed that migrants who came from India’s rural regions helped to diversify and expand Guyana’s rural economy. He added that the country’s Indian ancestors resisted the abuse, brutality, confinement and domination of plantation life, noting that their resistance included riots and strikes, and hence the country’s coastland is littered with memorials to the martyrs of riots.
“Indians’ entry into politics and trade unionism was inevitable in such circumstances,” Granger acknowledged.
The president also spoke of several union heroes, whilst highlighting that this year marks the 100th birth anniversary of Dr. Cheddi Jagan, the son of Indian indentured immigrants, whose contribution to the struggle for national liberation assured him of national respect.
Additionally, the president told the gathering, “Our destinies are intertwined forever in our nation’s future. We must swim together or sink separately.”
He stressed that Indian Arrival Day not only recognises the historical event of arrival, but also the survival of indentured immigrants and their descendants.
“The immigrants’ resilience allowed them to overcome adversity and to change challenges into opportunities,” he said.
Meanwhile, David Armogan, Chairman of Region Six stated that citizens must continue to recognize the efforts of the country’s fore parents and their sacrifices. “Let us work together, let us live together, let us build Guyana,” he stressed.
180 years ago Guyana’s Indian ancestors first set foot in the country. The first 164 passengers set foot at Highbury, East Bank Berbice on the morning of 5th May, 1838.