President celebrates Arrival Day with hundreds at Highbury, E.B.B.
By Royan Abrams
The Head of State, Ministers of Government, along with members of the opposition were among hundreds of Guyanese who turned out at Plantation Highbury on the East Bank of Berbice to celebrate Arrival Day 2017 where the first batch of East Indians landed on May 05, 1838 on the SS Whitby.
On this day 179 years ago, 128 men, women and children landed at the location after being told that there was a shortage of labour force on the sugar plantations following African emancipation.
Under the former administration, May 05 was renamed from Indian Arrival Day to Arrival Day to cater for all indentured immigrants. However, after the APNU+AFC government assumption to office, President David Granger gradually named a day for each of the other races and continued celbrating May 05 as Indian Arrival Day.
In his remarks, President Granger told the large turnout at Highbury that Arrival day reminds all that social cohesion must not be taken for granted, and that it is a work in progress. He added that Indian Arrival Day answers one of the most fundamental questions of how diverse people have lived together in a multicultural and multi-religious society.
According to the Head of State, Indian Arrival Day is significant this year because the observance coincides with the centenary of the end of Indian Indentured immigration. President Granger acknowledged that those immigrants who stayed in Guyana have made an invaluable impact on the country’s cultural, economic and social landscape.
“They brought with them a rich culture, their believes, their customs, their beautiful dances that you see moments ago, their dress, their festivals, their foods, their music, their rituals, their speech and traditions. Indians cultural values encourage strong bonds brings the Indian communities closer together with the creation of small Indian villages” he said.
President Granger while turning his attention to the creation of a cohesive State, recalled that the Indians have also contributed to creating a common culture, one of tolerance, mutual respect and a culture that lay the basis for a social cohesion.
He said, “in this society like any other society, in the work has its differences and social cohesion can overcome those differences and still needs to be strengthened in each social strata, each occupational sector and each geographical region.”
He reminded that the Indian presence teaches all of improved relations and respect.
Chairman of the Berbice Indian Arrival Committee, Chandra Sohan and Regional Chairman, David Armogan while addressing the gathering, separately spoke of the history surrounding Indian Arrival to Guyana.
The crowd was entertained with performances from the Guyana School of Dance and other groups across Berbice.
Present at the Indian Arrival Day celebration at Highbury were the former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of Social Cohesion Dr.George Norton, the Regional Chairman David Armogan, representatives from the India High Commission among others.