THE connections between the impending oil and gas industry, elections and how Afro-Guyanese can position themselves to capitalise on the upcoming developments were key issues addressed at the Buxton First of August Movement (FAM-Buxton) annual Eusi Kwayana Emancipation Symposium on Sunday.
The event was held at the Friendship Primary School, East Coast Demerara.
This year, the event was held under the theme, “The Coming Election and the African Guyanese Emancipation Agenda”, with panelists including former Foreign Minister, Carl Greenidge; Attorney, Nigel Hughes; University of Guyana History and Caribbean Studies Lecturer, Dwayne Benjamin; IDPADA-G Administrative Officer, Glenyss James; and FAM-Buxton Coordinator, Dr. David Hinds.
FAM-Buxton, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, views the impending elections as a defining moment in Guyana’s history. It focused on the implications of the elections for African Guyanese socio-economic empowerment.
“There has been a lot of debate on what that would mean. Some say we should be pessimistic because of what has happened in other countries, some say we should be optimistic. From the standpoint of African Guyanese, we should consider this a second Emancipation, because a lot of the problems we have experienced has to do with the fact that successive governments have not had the kind of resources to deal with the structural problems, problems of poverty,” Dr Hinds noted.
He added: “As far as African Guyanese are concerned, you have to think very seriously about your vote. The vote is important and it is even more important as we come to this moment when the potential of lifting Guyana from the bottom is very great. The vote is important. The most precious thing we have as citizens other than family, God, is the vote. Because the vote is defining.”
Benjamin expressed similar sentiments in his remarks.
“Elections is people participating in the decision-making through the vote. Next elections will be the single most defining moments of African Guyanese history in 21st century Guyana, and that’s because of one single factor— oil and gas. How do we get African interest represented? Why is [sic] the coming elections so important to [the] African emancipation agenda?” Benjamin asked.
He continued: “The emerging oil industry can have tremendous benefits to Guyana and the African community. Benefits include opportunity to transform [the] economy into a large-scale manufacturing that entails value-added production.”
Dr Hinds went on to challenge the African-Guyanese community to not only vote, but demand of those for whom they vote to perform and deliver on promises.
Hughes during his remarks renewed calls for constitutional reform, while James gave an overview of the accomplishments of the International Decade of People of African Descent Assembly Guyana (IDPADA-G) and how it has been helping to sensitise Afro-Guyanese about how they can position themselves to get involved in the oil and gas industry.