Four years after attaining its political Independence, our country declared itself as a Republic and assumed the title of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. These two historical milestones – Independence and Republic status – form an unbroken continuum of our people’s struggles to lift themselves out of the state of want and deprivation, to exist as free men and women in an indivisible state and by working for the development of all.

Our country’s national motto, “One people, One nation, One destiny”, is the tripod upon which our independent and republican statehood rests. The elements of our national motto commit us to the pursuit of unity; it affirms our sovereignty and shapes our ambitions.

‘One people’ acknowledges the different strands which constitute our country’s ethnic diversity.  It celebrates our rich and vibrant multiculturalism while promoting our common citizenship.

‘One nation’ signals the indivisibility of our state.  It commits us to defend vigorously our God-given patrimony, to zealously guard our sovereignty and prudently manage our resources for the benefit of all.

‘One destiny’ asserts our shared aspiration to live in a society in which our children are provided with opportunities; where the exertions of our workmen and women are fairly remunerated; where our elderly can enjoy their golden years in comfort and good health and where our vulnerable are provided with protection and support.

The ‘One Guyana’ project, which I recently launched, celebrates our oneness as enunciated in our national motto. It is aimed at excising the vices of ethnic rancour, hatred and divisiveness; breaking down barriers of mistrust, suspicion, and stereotypes; and fostering greater tolerance and understanding.  The One Guyana Project will encourage respect for the immeasurable worth of every citizen regardless of his or her race, religious belief or class.

The establishment of a One Guyana Commission attests to the inclusive approach which is necessary to realise the ambitions which we set ourselves both at Independence and upon becoming a Republic.  As I alluded in my address to the National Assembly, the One Guyana Commission will be given legislative effect. It will harness the goodwill which exists in our society and to take the practical steps which are necessary and desirable to cement our society while “respecting the diversity from which our oneness springs.”

The purpose of the Commission would be to try to do just that in relation to the practical steps we can take to cement our one society, encompassing and respecting the diversity from which our “oneness” springs. The Commission will foster the free contention of our people’s voices, honour our ancestral heritage while celebrating our multiculturalism.

The festival of Mashramani is a celebration of our multiethnic identity. Unfortunately, this year’s observances, including today’s flag-raising ceremony, have had to be moderated because of the coronavirus pandemic.  We rest assured that the pall of this pandemic will disappear, and with it will come the return to the radiance, colour and liveliness of our Republic celebrations.

In the meantime, let us continue to celebrate our Republican anniversary in the best possible way – by working and living together in peace and harmony.

May God bless our Republic! May God bless each of our citizens and our efforts at fashioning a One Guyana!

I thank you.