Emancipation Day ‘not just a dress up’ affair- Pres. Ali touts unity
Thousands of Guyanese were Monday dressed in traditional aAfrican fashion as part of efforts to commemorate Emancipation Day but President Dr. Irfaan Ali said that the day is not just a ‘dress up’ affair.
He believes it presents the occasion to push national unity and his ‘One Guyana’ ideal.
August 01 commemorates Emancipation Day in Guyana and the English-Speaking Caribbean. It celebrates the end of African enslavement – an inhumane system that lasted for centuries.
President Ali said that Emancipation Day serves as a reminder of the contributions of Afro-Guyanese and African people all across the globe. He also said that it is a reminder of their fight for freedom and the right to preserve their culture.
“It’s not a dress up day… our ancestors fought so that we can enjoy their victory,” President Ali said as he addressed an Emancipation Day event at New Amsterdam, Berbice.
But beyond honouring Africans, the Head of State emphatically stated that Emancipation Day should encourage people to work together in the interest of all.
These statements appeared to be in response to earlier remarks made by Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton.
Moments before the President’s remarks, Norton refused to greet the Head of State by shaking his hand. Instead, the Opposition Leader nodded his head and turned away.
Later, Norton, while providing brief remarks at the event, said he would only share a cordial relationship with the President once he is satisfied that his administration is working to improve the lives of all Guyanese.
The Head of State, however, posited that his government has been implementing programmes to benefit all, stating a massive housing programme in Region 10 – an opposition stronghold – is evidence that the government is not neglecting any particular group of people.
Importantly, too, he said that he stood ready to discuss developmental plans and priorities with anyone but he does not intend to wait around forever.
In May, Norton failed to show up for a meeting with President Ali on the much-needed appointments to various constitutional bodies. The Opposition Leader did not show up for that meeting nor did he respond to a letter sent to him from the President.
The President has since labelled this as not only regrettable and disappointing but also “a demonstration of immaturity.”