by Samuel Sukhnandan
As panelists for the Cuffy (Kofi) 250 Committee eight annual forum on the state of African Guyanese met to discuss critical issues on Sunday evening, Chairman of the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G) Vincent Alexander issued an appeal for the new government to retain the forum.
Alexander said the decade is an important opportunity to review the past and plan for the future, and the annual forum seeks to motivate the individual and collective of African Guyanese, be it organisations or communities, as well as the wider community.
“The immediate way forward has to be the preservation of IDPADA-G, ensuring that in keeping with the UN (United Nations) declaration on the context of Guyana today, a context where there has been regime change that we ensure that that new regime recognises its obligation to facilitate the existence of and to work with IDPADA-G for the recognition, justice and development of people of African descent,” he said during the discussions.
Back in 2018, the then David Granger-led administration had set aside GYD$68 million for an unknown entity in the National Budget but it later became clear that that amount had been for IDPADA-G. The headquarters is housed in a building owned by pro-coalition Elections Commissioner, Charles Corbin who is also a brother of former People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Leader, Robert Corbin. That building had also housed election campaign operations for the PNCR-led APNU.
The International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015-2024, was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in a resolution adopted on December 23, 2013. The declaration addressed the question of the state of African people in the diaspora.
Alexander noted that people of African descent still face barriers as a result of social biases and discrimination present in public and private institutions, and that the forum could be used as an integral part of that decade where “we seek justice,recognition and development.” According to him, it could serve as an important mechanism for feedback on these issues affecting African Guyanese.
“What we are into is something that the state has an obligation to facilitate and so an integral, critical way forward for us and this forum which seeks to bring together African Guyanese throughout the length and breath of Guyana is to address our issues and ensure that IDPADA-G continues to exist. And its continued existence, given the nature of this forum, that we in the future use this forum to do the things that Cuffy 250 sought to do when they established the forum,” he added.
The IDPADA-G chairman noted that the forum will also seek to address more specific things, particularly those issues confronting African Guyanese in their economic, social and cultural life.
The IDPADA-G launched a Cooperative Credit Union Society to financially empower Afro-Guyanese in July, 2019 and have also discussed the reintroduction of the village council to various African-Guyanese communities. A proposal to reintroduce Guyanese history in secondary schools in the curriculum was also made. Business conferences for farmers and fruit vendors were also held, with focus on the growth and development of the African-Guyanese community.
IDPADA-G, which comprises 48 organisations was established in 2017, and is working to develop a strategic plan for the years 2020 to 2024, when the decade ends.