Speaking in Berbice at State House, New Amsterdam on the occasion of the launch of the New Amsterdam commemorative activities for the 250th anniversary of the 1763 Berbice Slave Revolt and the 175th Emancipation anniversary on Sunday, President Ramotar said there are lessons to be learnt from the 1763 revolt and others in that, “when we are united, we can move mountains, and we move faster and further ahead”.
Also in attendance were Culture, Youth and Sport Minister Dr Frank Anthony, Region Six Chairman David Armogan, Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green and New Amsterdam Mayor Claude Henry.
President Ramotar noted that the Berbice slave uprising could have been like the Haitian Revolution, had it not been for the fact that there was disunity among the leadership of the movement, in the course of the uprising.
The president pointed out that this disunity has been one of Guyana’s big shortcomings.
“Guyana could have been independent a long time before 1966, and we could have gone farther ahead, had it not been for the division in 1955,” he noted. He stated further that even in the short 47 years of independence, Guyana has come along, its development still continues to be thwarted by the question of unity.
“We have put our country on a stage where we can take off to further heights and achieve greatness… but we have to begin to see unity,” he advised. Towards this end, the president said in celebrating the 250th anniversary of the 1763 Berbice Slave Revolt and the 175th Emancipation anniversary that Guyanese not only commemorate these events, but take lessons from them, and together try to do what is best for the people of Guyana.
He posited that this would be the best way to commemorate the sacrifices of those who had fallen in the revolt in 1763, and in 1823 and in Enmore and Rose Hall. “Those are the things, the lessons we can take from them and do duty to them by binding together,” he stated.
The commemorative activities which will span two weeks (July 28 – August 11) are organised by Council of Friends of New Amsterdam (COFONA), an organisation geared towards developing New Amsterdam with support from other agencies within and outside of the community and region.
The activities include international presentations, panel discussions, workshops, daily cultural and photographic displays, candle light vigil and a libation ceremony on the eve of Emancipation, followed by a heritage ball and an evening of drumming and poems for Cuffy’s children. They will run under the theme, “From Resistance through Emancipation, towards Empowerment”.
Prior to the opening ceremony, members of COFONA and other youth and culture groups in New Amsterdam participated in a street parade from Mark’s Bridge to State House.