PRESS RELEASE 40TH ANNIVERSARY INDEPENDENCE MESSAGE People's National Congress Reform Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown, Guyana. Thursday, 25 May, 2006

The People’s National Congress Reform is proud of the not insignificant role the leadership of our Party played in the struggle for political independence.

Our Party, forty (40) years ago, welcomed Political Independence not as an end in itself, but as a means towards the eradication of poverty, backwardness, disease and underdevelopment, which were the hallmarks of the colonial era.

In this endeavour, we are pleased to join in saluting this special and significant milestone. We have had a long history of struggle and resistance to the policies of our colonial masters. We struggled against the invaders who first came to our shores; we struggled against the institution of slavery. We struggled against the iniquities of the system of indentureship. We struggled for political independence so that we could be the masters of our own house.

Independence is the celebration of the hard work and struggles of the founding fathers of this Nation. As we celebrate, let this occasion remind us of the heroes from early days like Cuffy, the leader of the great slave rebellion, to the modern heroes like Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow. The work of Cheddie Jagan and Forbes Burnham who mobilized the mass political movement and founded the modern political apparatus, which is still in place today, was an important juncture in the relentless struggle against oppression and the fight to gain our independence.

In accepting the instruments of Independence from the Duke of Kent, Mr. Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, then Leader of the People’s National Congress and Prime Minister, said “Today we say goodbye to the British as masters and shake hands with them as friends”.

While underscoring the new partnership approach, which must characterize the relationship with the former colonial power Mr. Burnham emphasized the need for self reliance and hard work, on the part of the Guyanese people, as essential in the struggle for a better life. His famous phrase “All I can promise you is hard work” resonates even now forty (40) years on.

Independence means that, as a Nation, we are responsible to fashion and craft our own economic, social and political destiny in a difficult, nay hostile, international environment. Our Party is firmly convinced that the most important asset, which we inherited as a nation and which is still our greatest asset in meeting our present challenges, is the resilience, industry and ingenuity of our people. Whether in Guyana or in the diaspora, Guyanese have proved themselves to be exceptional people. We need, on this occasion, to recapture the faith for overcoming the difficulties of the current period.

Looking back over the years, there can be no doubt that the People’s National Congress led Government, set the Independence ship of state on a very firm and steady course.

We should not, however, be naïve; our state is under threat at this time. It would be a tragedy if our hard won independence should be lost to crime, violence and corruption. We need to re examine our forms of governance and use our creativity and imagination in deriving modern and relevant structures.

Let us together rebuild Guyana as a place that our children and our children’s children will be proud to own and feel honoured to serve.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, 25 May, 2006