TODAY, Guyana celebrates Emancipation Day 2014 with many activities planned countrywide to observe what should have been the end of an abominable period of subservience of one people to a dominant class in the family of humanity.
According to an article published in today’s edition of this newspaper: “The abolition of slavery preceded the introduction of the indenture system to British Guiana and the cessation of both should be celebrated in a national context, because this was the genesis of the Guyanese nation. Our past, present, and future endeavours are intricately interwoven and cannot succeed without an ethos of unity.”
However, within the relativity of contexts, Emancipation did not confer true freedom on the ‘freed’ slaves because of economic dependence on the former slave masters. After the slaves were freed, the colonials imported contracted workers, including Africans.
As the author posits: “Slavery is a relative term. One can be enslaved by love, hate, societal mores, the defects in one’s own psyche and within the boundaries of one’s limitations: but an enslavement where one human being is levelled to the equal, and below, of a beast of burden is a degradation both to the oppressed and the oppressor, for while one allows the bestiality of his physical being, the other displays bestiality of a mind domineered by agreed and godlessness which, perhaps, is a worse enslavement.”
The abolition of slavery preceded the introduction of the indenture system to British Guiana, and the cessation of both should be celebrated in a national context, because this was the genesis of the Guyanese nation. Our past, present, and future endeavours are intricately interwoven, and cannot succeed without an ethos of unity.
And therein lies the tragedy of Guyana, in that we continue to see each other as ‘them and us’, without recognition that our future lies in bonding and not bondage, either to ethnic, cultural, religious, communal or any other mores and/or traditions; that our differences enhance our potential for growth and development, and the tapestry of our various cultures enriches our montage of nationhood, similar to the way our foods have blended and become Guyanised.
As Guyanese all across the country celebrate the freedom of our African ancestors from the slave masters, we should, as a nation, join in these observances, because, at the end of the day, we are, in the words of our national motto, coined by the late Brindley Benn, “One People, One Nation, (with) One Destiny”. And in the recognition of, and adherence to, the principles of this motto lies the true freedom of all Guyanese.