President David Granger: It’s good to be here again. Honourable Amna Ally, Minister of Social Protection; Honourable Annette Ferguson, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure; Regional Executive Officer, Mr. Rupert Hopkinson; Regional Executives; good people of Anna Regina and Region Two:
I didn’t expect this big ceremony; I expected just a simple engagement- particularly with the young people. I came here with three purposes, three reasons. The first is to meet young people and I’m glad that the prayer was delivered by this child, that I was greeted and given this garland by three beautiful young girls.
Today, we’re celebrating young people and I’ve come to meet them and to hand them these kites so that on Easter Monday we can all participate in that Guyanese tradition of kite flying. Now first of all, what is the purpose of Easter? Whether we are Hindu, Christian or Muslim or we have no belief, Christians believe that this is a holy week. Today, Thursday, is called Holy Thursday. Tomorrow, Friday, is called Good Friday and the reason is that Christians re-enact the passion of Christ.
When I was young like you, people would be very sad all week because during Lent, for forty days and forty nights, people would be denying themselves of their pleasures. Some people would not eat meat. In fact, Lent starts at something called Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is at the end of Carnival. Carnival means goodbye to meat. So, for the whole of Lent people would not eat meat.
So Lent is a period of sadness, of fasting, and this is the last week of Lent and it reminds us of the passion and the suffering of Jesus. Tomorrow, Friday, the Christians will remember his crucifixion and on Sunday they will remember his resurrection. So Easter is the most important festival in Christianity, not Christmas, Easter because Easter symbolises the death and the resurrection of Jesus. It is the reason behind Christianity. So that is the first purpose for coming here, to help the citizens and the residents of Anna Regina and Pomeroon-Supenaam to celebrate the festival of Easter.
The second reason is that I love this place, Anna Regina. I love the Pomeroon; I love the people because it is from this region I got a lot of my ideas which I’m now trying to put into practice. The whole idea about school boats and school buses came from this region and I came back here at Charity to present the first school boat. I went into Tapakuma to present a bus. Bicycles have been presented but these ideas came from Pomeroon-Supenaam, nowhere else. Out of ten regions this is the region that gave me those ideas as to how we can serve the children of Guyana. So coming here is a time of nostalgia for me, it’s a time of remembrance, is a time of the realisation of the way people live and how their needs could be satisfied.
So that the second reason for being here but in the final analysis it is all about people; all about how we relate with one another and this festival, these kites, this visit, all these things are about how Guyanese see and treat one another. You know, sometimes in the islands in the Caribbean people don’t understand why only Guyanese would go into their ball fields or onto the beach to fly kites. People think Guyanese are some type of strange people because nowhere else in the Caribbean people used to fly kites at Eastertime but if you want to see a child cry don’t give him or her a kite at Eastertime.
So that is the reason for being here, because children like to fly kites and every child in Guyana, every big person in Guyana, could look back to the days when he or she was a child and had a kite to fly. So today we have come, not only the President of the country, but two ministers of the government have come to this place, for this purpose and to these people – the beautiful people of Pomeroon-Supenaam.
So those are my simple sentiments I want to share with you. This is not a political rally; this is a social engagement between Guyanese. We’ve come to celebrate an important festival and let me tell you this: since I became President, I started to live in a place called State House. When you come to Georgetown you will see State House on Main Street but since I’ve been living at State House strange things have started to happen. One is that last year Diwali there were two rows of diyas leading from Main Street into State House. There were Hindu ceremonies in the Benab in State House compound. First time I’ve ever seen that happen and I’m no longer a young man. It is the first time that it has ever happened in my lifetime – Hindu ceremonies at State House, Phagwah. A few weeks ago people were enjoying themselves, throwing abeer, dancing, and singing – singing chowtaals in State House.
What that symbolised is that the President is not for one religion or another, he’s for all religions, he’s for everybody and equally last year, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslims came into State House to break their fast after the month had passed at Eid. Well they didn’t come exactly at Eid, they came a little while after because they broke the fast before they came and then we all came together as Guyanese.
So in State House now, we see festivals conducted by Hindus, Phagwah and Diwali; we see Eid by the Muslims and we see prayers by the Christians and it shows you how in Guyana there is unity in diversity and today I have not come as a partisan President, I’ve come to you as a people’s President sharing these kites to children of all religious groups, of all backgrounds here in Essequibo in the Pomeroon-Supenaam. So that is the purpose for which I have come and I am very happy to see you here.
Thank you very much for coming out and let’s get on with the business of sharing kites.
Happy Easter to you all, Pomeroon-Supenaam!