Georgetown, Guyana – (August 20, 2017) President David Granger said that the International Decade of People of African Descent (IDPAD) is too important to become an opportunity for racial or religious recrimination or to serve as an outlet for ‘fake’ history. He also called for purposeful and expeditious actions to ensure that the objectives of the Decade are met. The Head of State made these remarks, today, at the Cuffy 250 Committee’s Fifth Annual State of the African Guyanese Forum, which was held at the Critchlow Labour College on Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.
“We need to work very hard so that the next 80 months are used to achieve out objectives. We recall the fate of the United Nations [UN] International Year for People of African Descent, which began on January 1, 2011 when the Government of the day converted that event into a ‘song and dance’ show and there is nothing to show for the International Year. This must not be the fate of the International Decade,” he said.
Last year, in his address at this very forum, President Granger had called for the establishment of a Plan of Action, which focuses on education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, particularly for young people. This challenge was taken up by the Committee, which subsequently, formed a core group called the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM). This body, which is tasked with coordinating the programmes, plans and events for IDPAD in Guyana, has completed a draft plan of action, which will be fine-tuned through workshops and consultations before its implementation.
The President said that since the inauguration of the Decade in 2015, almost 40 months have already elapsed and, therefore, the CCM has to be resolute and avoid deviating from fulfilling its mandate. The decade comes to an end on December 31, 2024. “The opportunity afforded by the Decade is unlikely to present itself again… Bickering seems to be a preoccupation of some people in this country. All I urge is that this is not the time for bickering. This is not the time for brawling and breaking down. This is the time for organisation, for education and for implementation. This is a Decade for determination and our children and grandchildren will not forgive us if we fail them at this critical time,” he said.
In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a Resolution calling on member states to take steps to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance faced by people of African descent. The President said that Guyana has an obligation to take action and urged all stakeholders to carefully study and examine the contents of the CCM’s draft report.
“I urge the CCM not to ignore the validity of our history and, at the same time, I urge the CCM to ensure that the document it puts forward in its own name and the name of this international Decade are based on the best information. The Decade must be forward-looking. The plan should be about the future,” he said.
Expressing his Government’s support for the programme of activities for the Decade, the President informed that in July consideration for the new budget cycle began and noted that if financial declarations are to be made in support of the UN’s Declaration, then such an allocation have to be determined and finalised between the next 10 weeks.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johnathan Adams, who is a member of the CCM, said, “We are responding to an international crisis and an international mandate to do something about our condition, which is a grim but unrecognised one. Today, we choose to trace on this grim canvas, a picture of hope, determination and success.”
He made reference to the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA)-International Development Bank (IDB) Survey, in which young people expressed opinions of being discriminated against, stigmatised, inequitable recipients of resources, excluded from participation in the wider society on the basis of race rather than lack of qualifications or gender, criminalised and racial profiled.
Mr. Adams informed that in the draft report four recommendations were made to achieve recognition for African Guyanese. Four education policies, eight education programmes and 16 educational projects were recommended. In terms of achieving justice, three education policies, three education programmes and 14 projects were recommended. Similarly, one educational policy, four programmes and six projects were recommended to ensure the achievement of sustainable development. There are also a number of recommendations that seek to address other areas of development.
Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Representative to Guyana, Dr. William Adu-Krow said that the International Decade provides a solid framework for UN member states to join together with people of African descent and take effective measures for the implementation of a programme of activities aim at improving their lives.
He noted that in Guyana, people of African descent wear a symbol of resilience from the struggle for civil rights and Independence. He also informed that in October later this year, a UN working group of experts on people of African descent will be visiting Guyana at the Government’s request.
The Cuffy 250 Committee is made up of a group of Guyanese in the United States and Guyana, who came together in 2013 to observe the 250th anniversary of the Berbice Revolt, led by Cuffy, against the system of slavery. It is dedicated to encouraging socio-economic and cultural revitalisation within the African Guyanese community and the fostering of ethnic and racial equality in Guyana. This year, the forum was held under the theme “Repositioning African Guyanese for Justice, Recognition and Sustainable Development”.