Georgetown, Guyana – (May 23, 2019) President David Granger, this evening, attended the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Mocha Arcadia, East Bank Demerara, where he told the residents that the community is well on its way to progressing socially, economically and culturally and that they can be assured of Government’s continued support.
Speaking at a special ceremony held at the Mocha Community Ground to commemorate the occasion, President Granger said that Mocha-Arcadia’s Village Day, today, is a fitting reminder of the age and the origins of villages and how they have transformed plantations into a nation; subjects into citizens and domination into determination. He noted that Mocha was one of the plantations acquired by Africans after Emancipation and was part of the historic village movement, which transformed a string of plantations on British Guiana’s coastland into a chain of human settlements stretching from the Corentyne to the Pomeroon Rivers.
“Free Africans, seeking to break their dependence on the plantations and eager to own their own lands, pooled their resources and set about purchasing, either collectively or individually, some of the abandoned plantations. The Governor and the Executive Council of British Guiana formally declared Mocha a village on the 23rd May 1894. The formal recognition of Mocha as a village coincided with reforms aimed to decentralizing local government. The declaration was made under the provisions of the Village Ordinance of 1892 which vested village councils with powers to vote, raise taxes, appoint councillors and execute village works,” President Granger said.
Noting that Mocha-Arcadia is a product of the village movement, the Head of State said that the village served as a custodian of the legacy of self-organization, which characterized the village movement. The pioneers of the village movement organized themselves to administer their own affairs and to promote the development of their villages, he said.
“Villages mobilized residents to develop their infrastructure by coming together to dig dams and drains and to build bridges, roads and kokers. They established churches for their religious education and schools for the instruction of their children. Villages became market places. Households maintained kitchen gardens for green vegetables. Farms in the back-dam produced fruit, ground provisions and plantains and farmers sold their produce at vibrant village markets. Villages fostered micro-businesses such as bakeries, clothing stores, retail shops and parlours proliferated. Cottage industries produced drinking chocolate and households made sugar-cake, black-pudding, souse, mabi (mauby) and other beverages for sale,” he said.
Further, he noted that villages generated skilled artisans – blacksmiths, tinsmiths, contractors and carpenters – who built and maintained bridges, houses, kokers and other minor public works; garnered savings and overcame the hurdle of access to capital by pooling their savings, establishing savings and credit associations and retained their own ancestral traditions of raising funds such as through box-hand and established burial societies and associations to preserve and promote cultural customs, practices and traditions.
“African villagers did not ‘sit on their hands’. They adopted ingenious solutions to their problems. They mobilized, organized and petitioned for economic, political and social empowerment. Mocha-Arcadia has inherited this proud legacy. It has sustained the practice of self-organization. We, Guyanese, for the most part, are children of villages. Two out of every three Guyanese still live in villages. Persons living on the coastland, by and large, owe their places of residence to that movement which began with the village movement which included Mocha. Vibrant village economies are essential to reducing inequality and poverty and generating employment. Villages are not historical artefacts; they are living communities which remain central to human development. Villages – all villages – must be revitalized and restored as engines of enterprise,” he added.
In this regard, President Granger said that the Government is supporting and will continue to support the development of villages and communities from the bottom-up, through four main areas.
“We have developed the 4 ‘Is’ of community, municipal and neighbourhood development – Institutions, Infrastructure, Investment and Information technology. Local democracy is not ceremonial ritual. It is an essential element in empowering neighbourhoods and municipalities to take control of their own affairs. Investment is the lifeblood of any economy. Your government is revitalizing village economies, particularly through its support for cottage industries and small and micro-enterprise development at the level of the community. Improvements in infrastructure, particularly productive infrastructure, are necessary to construct drainage and irrigation and farm-to-market roads,” the Head of State noted.
Further, he said that communities are being modernized and linked through information and communication technology (ICT) as the provision of information services remains vital to enhancing democratic participation and human freedoms, creating greater economic opportunities and improving education and efficiency.
“Improvements in institutions, investment, infrastructure and information communications technology are aimed at ensuring happy homes, happy families and happy communities. This is our ideal of the good life for all. Mocha-Arcadia has been resilient. The community has been benefitting, in recent times, from development; land leases have been issued and more have been prepared and are awaiting to be uplifted; dams and drainage canals have been cleared in order to support agriculture to ensure food security; roads are being improved; street lights have been installed along the access road to enhance human safety; and young people have benefitted from skills training, including entrepreneurial training to become self-employed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chairperson of Demerara- Mahaica (Region Four), Mrs. Genevieve Allen said that the community forms a part of the history of Guyana and therefore the residents should feel proud and celebrate what they have achieved.
In addition, Chair of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Mr. Rudolph Adams in his remarks, said Mocha has come a long way from the planation it was over a century ago. He noted that there is much to celebrate and residents and be proud of in the community.
The event was also attended by Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon and Deputy Chairperson of Demerara- Mahaica, Mr. Earle Lambert.