Georgetown, Guyana – (September 2, 2017) President David Granger, yesterday, called on the Guyana Branch of the Pan African Movement to take up the mantle of helping to restore villages to being incubators of entrepreneurial zeal, where small businesses, especially in the area of agriculture, can thrive and provide gainful means of employment for residents. The President was at the time delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony of the 29th Anniversary Conference of the Pan African Movement of Guyana, which was held at the Critchlow Labour College.

President Granger told those gathered that the empowerment of African communities will originate out of the revitalisation of villages across the country and called on residents to embrace entrepreneurship as an economic engine. “Programmes for the economic empowerment of Guyanese people of African descent could well originate in our villages, which, famously became the cradle of African economic empowerment after Emancipation in 1838. The freed Africans pooled their resources and invested their savings to buy abandoned plantations. They converted those plantations into human settlements. Villages are vital centres of human settlement and economic enterprise. Two out of every three Guyanese still live in villages. Villagers are repositories of accumulated knowledge and expertise,” the President said.

The Head of State said villages should never have become dormitories and must return to being power houses of food production. “Villages must be revitalised to provide the bases for small and medium-sized enterprises, including cottage industries, to be established to provide employment and generate wealth. They have the potential for increased agricultural, agro-processing and value-added production. Villages, also, can expand the range of services, which they present provide for residents. Given the skills of our people, I have no doubt that we can produce to satisfy our needs and the export market. If we start supporting our communities and villages, then we can empower housewives and families in the villages. We have the power in our villages,” the President said.

As the country joins with other states to observe the International Decade for People of African Descent, President Granger said the opportunity to empower and reclaim dignity for these peoples must not be wasted. “People’s right to a life of dignity and equality can be fulfilled only if their economic rights are respected. Organisations must mobilise for the task of economic empowerment, beginning in the villages. There needs to be a purposeful movement. The Pan-African Movement (Guyana branch) has a place in this country and a role to play in the economy in order to develop initiatives to re-energise our villages, one enterprise at a time,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Granger, praised the organisation for its consistent advocacy for a better life for Afro-Guyanese, but said there is still more which needs to be done to provide every citizen and descendants of slavery with a better life. In this regard, he spoke of the importance of Pan-Africanism, which he said has its roots deeply embedded in two historical events. These are the Trans-Atlantic Trade and the Scramble for Africa, which resulted in the invasion, occupation, division and colonisation of most of Africa’s territory from the late 19th Century.

“It is not a closed chapter because the wounds are still bleeding and as long as they bleed, Pan Africanism has work to do. Enslavement and imperialism, the twin evils were based, broadly, on the domination of Africans by Europeans and were predicated, consequently, on the notion of racial superiority. The Pan-African Movement has been a clear and consistent voice for three decades calling for respect for the rights, the recognition of the condition and the retention of African-Guyanese culture. The Movement has been toiling, sometimes quietly, to improve the conditions and to promote greater consciousness of African culture in Guyana,” the President said.

President Granger said Pan-Africanism is inseparable from Guyanese nationalism as it has, at its heart, the struggle for human dignity and equality. It is both an ideology, or a set of ideas, and an institution, which is based on the organisation and mobilisation of persons to support its ideas, he said. The President said Pan-Africanism is an important means for mobilising public opinion at the personal, national, regional and international levels in the cause of ‘reparative justice’ for the crimes committed during the period of slavery.

Dr. Joycelynne Loncke, Secretary of the Pan African Movement of Guyana, in an invited comment, said the Movement has heard the President’s charge and will now discuss among its membership how they can advance that call to action. “We are overjoyed and particularly privileged to have him with us and to listen to his charge. We take his charge very seriously. We are a very quiet organisation but we will implement as far as we can, some of the suggestions that he has made and we will ensure that during our workshops, we will be discussing agricultural initiatives particularly for women. We hope that we can contribute greatly to the growth and development of the country,” she said.

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