Though elated that the coalition has been voted into government, the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA) on Saturday pledged to be vigilant and hoped to have a say in candidates for upcoming local government elections.
Delivering the Kwanzaa Message, ACDA Executive Member, Elton McRae believed that most attendees voted for the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition and urged them to continue their support for the new government. “We would like to see them stay in office for some time so my first charge to you is to give support to this government, give them all the help they need while at the same time let us hold their feet so that they do not get out of hand,” he said.
With Local Government Elections scheduled for March 18, 2016, Mc Rae said ACDA members and supporters need to ensure that political parties do not impose wrong persons as nominees. “We need to ensure that the local government leaders that we choose come March be people that we can trust, be people who will be working for our development; not just put there because they are the popular ones in your communities, not just put there because the parties want us to put there. We need to dialogue with whoever is going to be there to ensure that they service our communities,” he said.
The 23-year old organisation also announced that it would soon be asking government to support plans to allow Afro-Guyanese to increase their stake in Guyana’s economy from the current less than three percent to between 20 and 50 percent in the next four to five years. “We need to ensure that the people that are managing this economy recognise this and give us the wherewithal. We need to approach them with programmes,” he said.
ACDA Director, Eric Phillips said the organisation was thankful for “our new government” and “our new President” because it has “started to do many things that ACDA has fought for.” Referring to Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams who was among the attendees, Phillips credited him with working towards the establishment of a Lands Commission to ensure that “our ancestral land is back in our own hands.”
Mc Rae urged all Afro-Guyanese to join ACDA in working together with government to address the issue of ancestral lands through the proposed Ancestral Lands Commission. “It is something for the entire Afro-Guyanese population to be involved in because our villages are being taken over, our ancestral lands are at risk today so we need that Land Commission to ensure its viability and security,” he said. He reiterated the need for government support to ensure that each community produces food for its survival rather than being merely a ‘dormitory’ where residents sleep and go to Georgetown to work.
The ACDA officials also reiterated the need to pursue reparation with the Guyanese and British governments for slavery and the death of 450,000 persons who died at that time. “We need to ensure that the just demand of the Africans is realized,” said McRae.
Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration in Western African diaspora in the Americas that runs from from December 26 to January 1. The observance honours African heritage in African-American culture and ends with feast and gift-giving.