On the solemn occasion of the 169th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in Guyana and the rest of the world, the People's National Congress Reform joins in marking this historic event.

There is no doubt that the scourge of human traffic and enslavement of persons as unpaid labour in the plantation economy of the colonial system was a scar on the history of mankind and a blight on the consciences of the colonial perpetrators. Nevertheless, the descendants of the enslaved Africans forged a social order and a community structure which demonstrated and still continues to demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit and the aspirations to live as a free and dignified people.

Perhaps the greatest manifestation of that resistance was the village movement which emerged after emancipation as the freed African people combined themselves into cooperatives to purchase the estates of their former masters and laid the foundation for rural and agricultural development in Guyana. This spirit of overcoming adverse circumstances and disadvantageous conditions is, we believe, embedded in the spirit and consciousness of all Guyanese of all ethnic origins and remains a defining characteristic of our people.
The descendants of slaves were pioneers in many aspects of life in Guyana, in the rise and expansion of basic education, it the rise of a Creole peasantry, in the growth and expansion of trade unionism, in the growth and establishment of social and cultural norms. In particular, the PNCR wishes to stress the importance that the African ancestors played in giving emphasis to education as this discipline has been a powerful force not only for the development of the country but also for building national cohesion and racial harmony.

It is fitting therefore that, at this time, that the descendants of African slaves should be joined by the rest of Guyana as we commemorate this occasion and that we as a people recount the many contributions of the African people to Guyana's Political, Economic and Social development. The celebration of the ancestral foods, music, art, clothing and folklore which our African ancestors have pioneered are also an important aspect of generating a society confident in its diversity.

The PNCR therefore wishes every Guyanese of all races or creed an enjoyable and happy Emancipation Day. We do so while asking all Guyanese to remember that its history is a vital engine of its development and therefore the exploits and achievements of our African ancestors as well as our Indian, Portuguese and Chinese descendants must be remembered if we are to go forward with a confident stride into the future.

People's National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Thursday, July 31, 2007