Harmon tells Lindeners at Freedom Fest
THE village movement which was established by our African ancestors after slavery was abolished in 1838, was the trajectory set to transform Guyana from a plantation state to a developed nation; a trajectory that the APNU+AFC Government has aggressively pursued to ensure that the sacrifices of our foreparents were not in vain. This underscored the message to Lindeners at the Freedom Fest celebration by Director- General, Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP), Joseph Harmon, on Thursday.
“Our African ancestors, he said, pursued an economic undertaking which was built on three pillars to ensure that their villages were developed. The three pillars: education, religion and agriculture were the cradle of the village movement and, by extension, the cradle of Guyana’s development and therefore it is on this village movement foundation, that the government has patterned after to ensure not only African Guyanese, but all Guyanese benefit. “When we look at it as a nation, what we see is the future when oil comes. What we have to do is to recognise that as the basis upon which we would develop Guyana…so the ex-slaves, they have set a platform, a foundation on which we can use to move the country forward,” Harmon said.
While the African forebears built schools in the villages, the education system continues to be of priority to this government and since going into office in 2015, the education budget was tripled and the largest chunk continues to go towards education, with the 2019 allocation being over $6 billion, the director-general said. “This is why the David Granger Administration…said that we want to make the nation an education nation; a nation that drives education, this is what will take us into centuries going forward with oil,” he said.
As first oil draws closer, Harmon related that the government will continue to plug money into education — particularly vocational education — as there are many opportunities in this field available in the oil and gas industry.
For maximum benefits to come from this very lucrative industry, Guyanese must ensure that it is governed by the more trustworthy and competent government, so that these benefits can trickle down to every citizen, irrespective of race and political affiliation. This was not the case in the past, and African Guyanese in particular suffered from marginalisation, he said. In realising that Guyana is on the right track, a track founded by our African foreparents, he urged all citizens to get registered and to make the right choice for our future.
African people entitled to oil wealth
A similar message was brought to the people by executive member of the Working People’s Alliance, David Hinds, who also underscored the importance of voting and getting registered. He urged the African counterparts to remember the sacrifices their foreparents made, to prepare Guyana for the benefits that are being reaped now by digging canals and developing the infrastructure for free. It is in this regard, that African people are entitled to this wealth as it will be like walking through a second door of emancipation, he said.
These messages were favourably accepted by the upbeat crowd who flocked the Wisroc Playfield to participate in the Freedom Festival, the third of its kind. The festival, which is the brainchild of Member of Parliament Jermaine Figueira, aimed at bringing an emancipation celebration to Linden, as residents were forced to journey to Georgetown and other parts of the country to enjoy similar festivities. The very colourful event saw men, women and children decked out in their very impressive African garb to enjoy an African cultural extravaganza of drumming, dance, song and drama. A taste of Africa was also experienced through food, drinks, cultural art exhibitions amongst other things. Prizes were given for those in the best African attire and the best tasting cook-up.