Social Cohesion Minister extends Chinese arrival day greetings
For the first time, January 12 is being observed as Chinese arrival day as it was only five days ago that the day was designated by President, David Granger.
Notably, Guyana’s first President was Chinese, the late Arthur Chung.
In a message to mark the occasion, also recently appointed Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton noted that “the Chinese have made substantial contributions to our beautiful country since their arrival on January 12, 1853 and it is vital that we acknowledge these contributions and ensure that as we foster a unified country, we preserve the Chinese Culture.”
For the entire period of 1853 to 1879, a total of 13,541 Chinese landed in Guyana. These persons were diverse in their own right, since they came from various regions, spoke different languages and had varying religious beliefs.
They came as the smallest group of indentured labourers and were distributed to the sugar plantations in the three counties of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo. Fortunately, families were kept together in the distribution.
Dr. Norton alluded to the Chinese contributions to the local society including their tasty cuisine, folklore and the language which continues to be spoken by natives and is even taught here at the Confucius Institute.
Chinese have been fully integrated into the Guyanese society and have been able to excel in virtually every area, including in academia, the legal and medical fields.
The Chinese were astute business men, who operated grocery stores and were druggists, butchers, hucksters, cart and boat cab owners, barbers, laundrymen among other things. Their contribution to commerce can still be seen today with various businesses across the country.
We must also not forget that the Chinese were able to contribute to the development of sport in Guyana as well. Some might remember the Chinese Sports Club, which is now known as the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club. Among the sporting disciplines of the club were cricket, tennis, hockey and basketball. The club, however, shone at hockey and in 1961, eight of its members were selected to tour with the national hockey team which won the first and only Quadrangular Hockey Tournament among British Guiana, Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados. The club went on to have the leading hockey team in Guyana, winning all the hockey tournaments in 1974.
The Minister said “Chinese, like all other ethnic groups in Guyana, must be recognised for their sterling contributions and must be integrally involved in every aspect of building our beautiful country,” adding that “as we celebrate the arrival of Chinese in Guyana, let us use this time to reflect on our rich diversity and pledge to work together to foster and promote Social Cohesion.”
Guyana is commonly referred to as the land of six peoples, owing to our rich ethnic diversity, but we must remember that we are one people, in one nation, working towards one destiny.
The recently appointed Minister pledged to ensure that the Ministry fulfils its mandate and build a socially cohesive society.