Georgetown, Guyana - (November 10, 2019) President David Granger, last evening, told the residents of Victoria village that they should be proud of their village’s history as their ancestors, despite their struggles, persevered and pioneered economic independence and democratic empowerment, which resulted in a better life after emancipation.
The Head of State made these statements in his feature address at the commemoration of the 180th anniversary of the purchase of the village.
“Victoria is not the mother of all villages. It is not the grandmother of all villages. It is the great grandmother of all villages. And tonight, we acknowledge that it was Victoria which started the great village movement. It is Victoria which lit the flame that encouraged us to dream of equality, equality of all people; the prospect of economic prosperity and the meaning of true liberty after the most degrading punishment as enslaved labourers on the plantations of Guyana,” he said, noting that the Guyanese nation will forever be grateful to Victoria.
The President said it was this village that showed how “ordinary people” who could not even sign their names, were able to transform an abandoned plantation into a prosperous village.
He reminded that it was ‘Victorians’ who led the way and showed how a modern village could be established by converting plantations from Skeldon to the Pomeroon into a string of human habitations.
The Head of State said long before he became President, his intention was to honour Victoria and other villages on November 7. It is for this reason that a motion was passed in the National Assembly in 2013 declaring November 7, the National Day of Villages. This day, he explained was chosen because it was the date of Victoria’s purchase.
Noting that over 60 per cent of Guyanese still live in villages, he said persons of all ethnicities can trace their ancestry to the villages.
“We must honour the villages. It’s not just a place where you live. That is a place where you farm. It’s a place where you meet people, where you develop relations, where you [practice] culture,” President Granger said.
The President stressed that the Government believes that the villagers must be allowed to run their own affairs and manage their own community. ‘That is why we are so keen on restoring local democracy,” he said, reminding that the Local Government Elections were held twice in three years after a 20 hiatus.
Additionally, he said, Government since taking office, has established four new municipalities – capital towns – in Bartica, Mabaruma, Mahdia and Lethem.
The President said the Government has created Village Improvement Plans (VIPs), which will ensure financing is available for village improvement and that the village is used as an economic, political and social machine to improve the lives of Guyanese throughout the country. He said that the VIPs will cater to the protection of institutions, improvement of infrastructure, investment in the restoration of farmland and increase use of Information Technology.
“Tonight, we are in Victoria. Just as it had led the village movement 180 years ag0, I see the ‘Victorians’ leading village renewal in years to come because I intend to come back in 2039 when you celebrate your 200th anniversary,” the Head of State said, to loud cheers and applause.
The President reminded that the villages which were established in the wake of emancipation rests on four pillars: the home, the church, the school and the farm.
The Head of State emphasized that Victoria has a permanent place in history. He said that despite being poor and illiterate, the villagers’ ancestors pooled their resources together and bought the village.
“They were able to plan for future generations, transforming their lives and transforming the lives of their children and grandchildren,” he said.
President Granger explained that the village movement started on 7th November 1839 when the village was bought for 30,000 guilders. He urged ‘Victorians’ to collect the postage stamp, depicting ‘the purchase’ of the village, which he launched in November 2016, so that their children can grow up understanding the role that Victoria played in transforming Guyana.
The President noted that Victoria also pioneered local government as the villagers were able to create an agreement with regulations for village management. This included the election of office-bearers, collection of taxes, the prohibition of drunkenness, cursing, swearing and gambling.
“The people knew what they were doing although they never went to school and they were able to bring about this transformation in the lives of the village and the country as a whole. So, Victoria we owe you a debt of gratitude,” he said.
Aside from maintaining a rich cultural renaissance, the President said, the villagers were also able to maintain a high standard of economic development through the establishment an agriculture society, which would hold annual fairs for villagers to bring their best fruit, vegetables and animals to be sold or exchanged. He said the other villages subsequently started to emulate Victoria.
The President assured that the Government will continue to invest in the village to ensure residents live comfortable lives.
“Victoria led the way before and it can lead the way again. We look to you. We look to your energy. We look to your resilience. We look to your commitment to show Guyana what you can do, what you have done and what you will do in the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Victoria Village Day Committee, Mr. Basil Williams, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, called on the villagers to honour the struggles of their ancestors and to celebrate their accomplishment.
The event was held at the Victoria Community Centre Ground under the theme: ‘Magnifying our African ancestry, celebrating our cultural diversity’.
The thousands in attendance were treated to a rich cultural programme, which included drama, song, dance and drumming.
Among those present were Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, who is performing the duties of Prime Minister; Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Mr. Sydney Allicock; Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland and several Ministers of Government.