Statement from President Dr Irfaan Ali
In my statement on Arrival Day, I sought to put forward a message of common values, of common struggles, and ultimately what I hope would lead to reconciliation among our people. In that message, I stated that every group that came here did so for a better life for themselves and their descendants.
I was not and could not ever have been referring to our African ancestors, who did not come here of their own volition but were captured, brought to our country in chains, and brutally enslaved. Indeed, it is their sacrifice and struggle for freedom and against oppression that should inspire us to continuously secure our freedoms and democracy for a better Guyana.
To my fellow Guyanese who felt offended by the way in which the language was structured, you have my unreserved regret and assurance that the struggles of our enslaved African ancestors would never be understated and unappreciated. They gave their lives for our freedom and as a nation, we must be forever grateful.
I affirm and repeat the thrust of my personal and public mission in reconciling this country after a very divisive period in our history. As I expressed in my Arrival Day message, we must find deeper, more meaningful ways of celebrating our collective diversity, of pooling our collective wisdom; moreover, we need to begin and sustain the practice of speaking openly and honestly with each other. This year as we celebrate Arrival Day, we do so with a greater sense of purpose that as a collective we stood together for a free and democratic Guyana.
With respect to our ancestors, our National Anthem reminds us that we are “born of their sacrifice, heirs of their pains”. I invite you once again to join together, to forge the unity of voice, of purpose, and of our people that would make them proud.