August 2, 2023 -President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali, has reiterated his government’s commitment to the fight for reparations for the grave injustices of African enslavement. This commitment was expressed during the celebration of Emancipation Day 2023, a significant event commemorating the 185th anniversary of the formal abolition of slavery in Guyana.
President Ali declared, “We demand that those who were complicit in and who profited from the trade in captive Africans and African enslavement pay just reparations.”
CARICOM’s role in advocacy for African descendants
He noted the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) vanguard role in advocating for reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans. He said that regionally, significant efforts have been made to secure both recognition of, and compensation for, the atrocities committed during the era of the slave trade and slavery.
President Ali went on to say that the cessation of slavery in 1838 did not end the cycle of oppression, as freed Africans were still subjected to formidable challenges. However, these challenges were met with commendable courage and inventiveness.
Honoring African-Guyanese contributions and assuring an inclusive future
In recognition of Emancipation Day, the President highlighted the noteworthy contributions of the African-Guyanese community, which ranged from the development of the peasantry and the inception of the Village Movement to pioneering roles in local government and education.
President Ali encouraged citizens to honor those who, despite enduring unthinkable hardships, resisted and persevered.
He assured all African Guyanese of his administration’s commitment to preventing their political and economic marginalization.
“African Guyanese will share in the bounty that will flow from Guyana’s transformative development now and in the future. They along with all others will have a stake in national development and in the governance of our country. The One Guyana agenda is aimed at building such a prosperous and inclusive future.”
Despite this assurance, President Ali acknowledged the existence of elements both within and outside Guyana that continually fuel division and breed mistrust and suspicion for their own benefit.
He urged Guyanese to continue to reject these divisive attempts and expose those who incite disunity and fear, as they pose a significant threat to the nation’s unity and progress.