by Zena Henry
For the thousands that came out to witness the Independence Day celebration held at the Independence Arch Brickdam on Tuesday May 26, the heavy down pour came more as a blessing than a humbug.
The celebration which has not been held at that location for numerous years was well received by citizens who braved the rain from the early hours of the morning to get a good position to witness the morning’s wreath-laying ceremony.
Eight wreaths were laid representing the trade union movement, military, police, women, youth and politicians. The People’s Progressive Party (PPP), a major architect of Guyana’s independence from British colonial rule, was invited but the party opted to snob the event, having not recognized the government as freely and fairly elected at the May 11, 2015 polls.
With a full military flank in the fore, invited dignitaries, local and foreign personages, witnessed what some say was the revival of national pride as the dedicated Independence Arch which was a gift to the Guyanese people following their 1966 Independence came alive with the singing of national songs, the continued recital of the National Anthem and pledge and the raising of the Golden Arrowhead during a 21-gun salute.
After receiving his military welcome and observing all protocols, President Retired, Brigadier David Granger in his address to the nation urged Guyanese to fulfill their duties that is to continue the work of Guyana’s founding fathers, “to transform a divided colony to a united nation.”
Guyana gained its Independence on May 26, 1966, after some 350 years of Dutch and British rule.
Gaining Independence, the President said was a movement not taking place just in Guyana but across the Caribbean for a number of years.
“Workers were the pioneers of Independence. It was they who rebelled against British colonialism,” as they struggled to deal with the stress that following after the first and second World Wars.
Rebellions that took place in the 1930s and onward throughout the Caribbean and Guyana saw the death, and injuries to many. “Today we pay homage to the workers for their sacrifice,” the President said.
He also paid respect to the trade unionists who aided in the pre-independence struggle, recognizing the 176 persons who died as the government then used deliberate tactics to thwart the country’s will to be Independent. “Independence came in 1966 after decades of distress and distrust let us now not dwell on the pains of the past but look within, to the future.”
The President said that the struggle of past leaders should be the force to drive the country and promote change from subject to citizen, from colony to nation and from sub-nation to liberation and from discrimination to the light of dignity and equality.
Quoting the nation’s first Prime Minister Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham who said that “Independence is a means to an end”, the President urged that change be that end; change in society and its economics and the treatment of each other as a nation made up of six races.
The Independence Arch was recently refurbished free of cost by BK International and Cummings Electrical. Several public spirited citizens also contributed to thye face-lift of the area.
The Independence Arch was presented by the then Canadian-owned Demerara Bauxite Company (DEMBA) as a gift to the people of Guyana on their achievement of independence.