“Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” On 28th August, 1963, sixty years ago, Reverend Martin Luther King Jnr. delivered his famous “I Had a Dream” speech in the Capital City of the USA, Washington DC, where a quarter of a million people gathered near the Lincoln Memorial to listen to his speech addressing jobs, equality and discrimination. President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One year later, he signed the National Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Accidentally (?), on Friday 25th August,2023, at the launch of the University of Guyana (UG) Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, the Gladstone heirs delivered an apology for their ancestors’ involvement in slavery and indentureship. “It is with deep shame and regret that we acknowledge our ancestor’s involvement in this crime (slavery) and with heartfelt sincerity that we apologized to the descendants of the enslaved in Guyana,” said Charles Gladstone, one of the great, great, great, grandsons. The heirs donated 100,000 pounds to the University and will assist in other projects.
Incidentally, Guyana celebrated “Emancipation Day” on August 1st with a month-long event to follow commemorating the abolition of slavery. On the 17th August, some 35 Afro-Guyanese groups received an average of $1.8 M each for empowerment projects. This year, another $100 M was allocated to support 55 groups, being part of IDPADA-G. This is in keeping with the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 68/237, proclaiming the years 2015 to 2024 to be the International Decade for People of African Descent.
Co-incidentally, August 18th commemorated the 210th anniversary for the 1823 Demerara revolt against slavery. The very sugar industry which prospered from the input of slaves brought from Africa along with indentured laborers from Africa, India and other countries, was destroyed and dismantled by the PNC government during their two periods of governance, starting with the closing down of Leonora Estate in 1986. After pledging to make sugar workers see a good life with salary increases and keeping their jobs, being the back bone of the country, it was the PNC Government in 2015 who went against their words, broke their promises, closed 4 sugar estates and laid off some 7,000 workers without compensation. On taking office in 2020, it was the PPP/C Government who resuscitated the industry again, compensated the fired workers and started a revival program. “We are not walking away from sugar,” the Head of State, President Dr. Irfaan Ali recently promised.
After the PNC government ruined the economy and ran the country into bankruptcy during their 33 years in office (1967 – 1992 and 2015 – 2020), including 2 years illegal occupancy (having lost the NCM in 2018 and refusing to hold election until 2020), the country was depleted of foreign exchange and 92% of earned revenue went back to repay over-burdened debts. The PNC created job loses causing hundreds of thousands of the population from all ethnicities to flee the country for greener pastures overseas. This caused a severe brain drain among other things. Today, the PPP/C has created numerous opportunities and the country is currently in need of some 100,000 people to fill various vacancies. If the local market cannot supply this demand, the Government will be forced to import workers. Imagine, one government takes away bread from children’s mouths and another creates opportunities to feed not only the nation but the Caribbean! No wonder Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley and President Irfaan Ali are locked in arms as bosom partners supporting the ideals of reality, sincerity, prosperity and equality!
Through President’s Ali vision in his first term in office, he has implemented a “One Guyana” theme and assiduously working to eradicate all forms of discrimination which was practiced, propelled and perpetrated by the PNC government during their past two tenures. The PPP/C Government under President Ali’s leadership has implemented so many programs instituting cash grants to cushion the burdens of the high cost of living and discrimination manufactured, supported and encouraged by the previous administration. At the recent Housing Expo 2023, the government has distributed more house lots than the PNC did in their last 5 years in office. The PPP/C government has removed most of the taxes created by the PNC specially to burden the farmers and other industrial producers.
While the PNC Government had proudly and indiscreetly fired targeted ethnic workers, the PPP/C Government has an open policy to incorporate all Guyanese, ensuring that all are treated equally, fairly and honestly. The PPP/C Government has re-hired all the Indigenous community leaders fired by the PNC and have increased their numbers. The Christmas bonus taken away from the military forces by the PNC Government was restored by the PPP/C government. The school cash grant denied by the PNC government was re-introduced by this government once again to bring smiles to all the thousand of Guyanese children. GOAL scholarships given out freely and generously by the PPP/C government replace the one-sided affair when the PNC was handing out scholarships only to their kit and kin. The COVID-19, flood and Diabetes cash grants have brought much relief for Guyanese, something unheard of by the PNC.
A close analysis will prove that the very rights that Martin Luther King Jnr. fought for in the USA for the Afro Americans, were trampled upon and a blind eye was turned by the supermajority Afro supported PNC in Guyana. Burnham, Hoyte and Granger have all lacked the honesty, dignity and integrity of that freedom fighter. Now, Norton knows no better but to try and outclass his predecessors. The PNC’s perpetual racism, lies, deceits, skullduggery, corruption, rigging and mismanagement have incarcerated any opportunity of them being accepted by the local, regional and international communities as true representatives of right against wrong. MLK said “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” …
Will the PNC ever have a type like Martin Luther King Jnr. in their ranks to show a clean face and hand?