by STAFF WRITER
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 23, CMC – Guyana is marking the 47th anniversary of republican status with President David Granger saying it provides an opportunity to “celebrate the uniqueness of our nationhood”.
Addressing the flag raising ceremony at D’urban Park, Granger paid tribute to early inhabitants of the country whom he said “have welded our country, irreversibly, into a plural society.
“The Republic guaranteed greater cultural freedom, encouraged diverse beliefs, respected differences of creed, culture, race or religion and entrenched constitutional protection to proscribe discrimination.
“The Republic started the task of shaping a society that was culturally plural by promoting the unhindered celebration of the Christian, Islamic and the Hindu festivals. The Republic aspired to ensure that we would live together in harmony free from racial and religious conflict,” he added.
Granger said Guyana is committed to eliminating extreme poverty, eradicating inequalities; expanding the space for cultural diversity and enhancing the sense of national belonging.
He said the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country is becoming a more socially cohesive country, working “towards the well-being of all its members, fights exclusion and marginalisation, creates a sense of belonging [and] promotes trust.
“Guyana’s various cultural threads have been interwoven into the tapestry of nationhood. We celebrate, today, our republicanism and our pluralism. We have achieved unity by our diversity.”
In his address, President Granger highlighted the contributions of East Indians to the country’s development as they also celebrate the 100th anniversary of their arrival here as indentured servants.
He said said 2017 is an opportunity for Guyana to celebrate the contributions of the Indian community and credited the almost 240,000 Indians, who were transported to then British Guiana from 1838 to work mainly on sugar plantations, with contributing to the cultural and economic development of Guyana.
“Most of the indentured immigrants remained to make our country their home at the end of their contracts of service. They invigorated our cultural life with devotional festivals, colourful dress, tasty foods, vivacious dance, vibrant music, two great world religions – Hinduism and Islam – and other cultural retentions.
“Indian indentured immigration reshaped our economic landscape by making an indelible mark on the cattle, coconut, fishing, rice and sugar industries. The Indian impact is visible on every aspect of national life – the arts, business, diplomacy, education, engineering, industry, jewellery, law, media, medicine, politics, the public service and trade unionism,” he said.
President Granger said Guyana’s 47th anniversary as a republic “is a happy occasion to celebrate the uniqueness of our nationhood” intensified efforts to unite the descendants of fore-parents who were brought to these shores, either as enslaved workers or indentured labourers, to toil on the plantations.
“Independence reminded us, also, that it was their struggles – their resistance, revolts and riots on the plantations – which helped to make their descendants a free people and to make this country a free state.
“The establishment of the Cooperative Republic on 23rd February 1970 intensified our efforts to unite our peoples into a plural nation under the inspirational motto – ‘One people, One nation, One destiny’,” he said.