About 200 persons Sunday morning marched from the East Coast Demerara to Georgetown to galvanise support for the construction of an 1823 Slave Rebellion Monument on Parade Ground and pressure government ito address several grievances.
The Coalition for the 1823 Parade Ground Monument does not recognise the government-built monument constructed near the Kitty Seawall and instead plans to build its own on Parade Ground where the revolting slaves were executed after mock trials. Government has said that its monument has been sited there because it is more visible to a wider cross-section of Guyanese travelling around the city and up and down East Coast Demerara.
The Remembrance Walk started at Plantation Le Resouvenir where the revolt began on August 18, 1823, in memory of the rebels’ heroic sacrifice, sensitize the public about the rebellion, publicise the intention of the Coalition to build the 1823 Monument at the Parade Ground and insist that those in authority respect the rights of all ethno-cultural groups in Guyana.
“It signals the intention of the African Guyanese community to take charge of our own lives, take charge of the way in which our stories are told, the way in which our heroes are represented,” said Coalition member, Melissa Ifill.
The Coalition has begun raising an estimated GUY$20 million to build the monument.
Political Science Professor David Hinds said he wanted the march to mark the beginning of securing a number of political gains. “I’m hoping from my standpoint that this is the start of a prolonged rebellion and resistance because we are in the midst of a government that has been in power for twenty-one years and has shown no sign of sitting down and solving the deep-seated problems of the country,” said Hinds, an executive member of the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA).
In addressing the gathering at the Basketball Court, Parade Ground, he planned to “destabilize” one-party government, corrupt officials and take advantage on poor and Black people. He also cited poor performances in Mathematics and English as well as paltry old age pensions that must be addressed. “We have to stop backing down and face them like we mean business and let them come out and confront a conscious people and mobilize people who believe that this country belongs to us and all of us have a right to be part of this country,” he said.
He emphasised that no East Indian was attacked or their property damaged by any of the predominant Afro-Guyanese participants in the estimated six mile walk.
Political Scientist Aubrey Norton assured that the push for the construction of their 1823 Monument to the African slaves who were executed because they fought for freedom was not aimed at stoking ethnic tension. “This is not anything about ethnic fights. The 1823 group believes that all Guyanese are equal and should be treated equally but we abhor the fact that the government attempts to treat African Guyanese as if they are not part of this political process,” said Norton, a former General Secretary of the Peoples National Congress (PNC) political party.
Walking along the East Coast Demerara and into the city, the participants on the walk chanted several slogans including “We need our monument at Parade Ground,” “We must build our monument without torment,” “This is our country. We want accountability,” and “Stop the political lying and racial profiling.” Their placards read, among other demands, “What we need is a better life for all Guyanese,” “ “Guyana for all Guyanese. African demands equal rights,” “The Parade Ground is Sacred Ground,” “Respect our African history and culture,” and “The 1823 heroes will be honoured at Parade Ground.”