By Bhisham Mohamed and Devina Samaroo
“Independence brings change, change from colony to nation; change from subject to citizen; change from segregation to
liberations; change from discrimination to the lives of dignity and equality.” These were the words of President David Granger as he addressed thousands at a flag-raising ceremony held at the rehabilitated Independence Arch on Brickdam.
Granger reflected on the struggles of Guyanese citizens in their fight for freedom as he paid homage to them for their devoted services in making Guyana what it is today – an Independent nation. “Guyana today celebrates the independence it gained on the 26th May 1966, after 350 years of Dutch and British colonisation … We’re assembled at this national monument in solemn remembrance of the lives of our heroes …. We’re assembled here to pay homage to those who agitate for decades to achieve national independence.”
President Granger recognised the ordinary workers, the legislators, and the politicians for their contribution to the struggle of freeing this nation from foreign rule. Though this struggle occurred years ago, the President reminded Guyanese that as citizens of this beloved land, it is their duty to continue the work of these brave souls in order to transform Guyana into a united nation.
He reminded too that change is a process driven by the industrious efforts of dedicated individuals as he urged Guyanese to pour all their efforts into ensuring “we live together in peace, love and harmony”. He urged Guyanese to not dwell on the pains of the past, but look forward to the future with faith.
In quoting the words of Guyana’s first Prime Minister Forbes Burnham in his closing remarks, Granger said: “Independence is a means to an end. The end must be the changing of our society and the revolutionising of the economy. Change indeed is never-ending. Let us resolve, therefore, to work together to change our society into one great economy. Let us try to change our economy into a great prosperity; let us change our country into a nation of love, a nation of unity. Happy Independence Day. May God bless you. May God bless our country.”
Parade and salute
The ceremony was also spiced with military pomp and splendour that included a 21-gun salute. Besides, thousands braved the rain to be part of history since it was the first time after Guyana gained Independence in 1966 that the hoisting of the Golden Arrowhead was done at the Independence Arch on the eastern end of Brickdam, Georgetown. The national colours – red, white, black, green and yellow –were on display in abundance not only for spectators present at the momentous ceremony but to the world at large.
The ceremony was slated to commence at 08:00h by which time all the diplomats, Heads of Government, Ministers of Government and other invitees trickled in under the white tent and anxiously awaited the arrival of His Excellency, David Arthur Granger and First Lady Sandra Granger.
Minutes before his arrival, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and his wife, Sita Nagamootoo, arrived at which point the Prime Minister was escorted to the podium for a military salute. Then, the sound of sirens from afar was the signal to indicate the arrival of His Excellency. Three outriders were spotted from a distance followed by a police vehicle and the presidential entourage
comprising three well-polished black cars. The President’s vehicle bearing the emblem of the Cacique Crown was in the middle.
President Granger stepped out of the vehicle to thunderous applause from the thousands who had assembled to get a glimpse of the man who has promised to unite the nation. He was welcomed by Prime Minister Nagamootoo along with top military men including Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Mark Phillips; Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud; Fire Chief Marlon Gentle; and several other high-ranking officials.
Without any hesitation, the programme went into full steam with the sounding of the trumpets as the Last Past was observed in honour of Guyana’s fallen heroes. As customary, a two-minute silence was also observed. Then it was time for one of the most anticipated parts of the programme – the wreath laying led by President Granger followed by the Army Chief-of-Staff, Police Commissioner, Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green and other representatives. The eight wreaths were neatly placed on the base of the Independence Arch, made of quartz stone from the Mazaruni River. After that important aspect, there was a brief address by the Eighth Executive President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, who urged Guyanese to evolve as one and dedicate their energies towards building Guyana as a nation.
The second most important part of the programme was the hoisting of the National Flag then there was a prayer done by Ashiana Narine, a student of the Bishop’s High School and the National Pledge recited by Anjanie Mohabir, a student of Queen’s College. The Guyana Police Force band took over as they played “Guyana the Free” followed by the singing of the National Anthem after which, the President took the final presidential salute and made his way to his presidential entourage to depart. As he left, he waved to those who came out to be part of the festivities to mark Guyana’s Independence Anniversary.
Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green, Senior Counsel Brynmor Pollard and Sister Mary Noel Menezes have been accorded with
the Order of Roraima- Guyana’s second highest National Award-when the list of awardees was announced at the Independence Day celebrations at the Guyana National Stadium Tuesday evening.
Green’s honour was a surprise to many, given his disastrous management of the capital city, but according to Eshwar Vevakanand Persaud, Protocol Advisor in the Ministry of the Presidency, Green was honoured for his long and outstanding involvement in the struggle for independence and his role in providing public service for three generations.
Meanwhile, Cacique Crown of Honour awards were also announced to several persons for their long, outstanding and dedicated service in the fields of politics, public service and community work. Among them are: Edith Bynoe, former Minister of Government; Oscar Clarke, General Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform; Yvonne Harewood–Benn, former teacher and Minister of Government; LLewelyn John, former Minister of Agriculture, Home Affairs and Local Government; Professor Winston McGowan; Eshwar Vevakanand Persaud, Protocol Advisor in the Ministry of the Presidency; Supriya Singh-Bodden, Founder of Guyana Foundation; Justice Donald Trotman; and Elsworth Williams, Apostle Full Gospel Fellowship.
Golden Arrow of Achievement
The Golden Arrow of Achievement was awarded to the following:
Edgar Wrensford Adams, former Ministry of Works and Guyana Defence Force Officer (for long and dedicated service as Captain, Pilot Coast Guard Commander and Marine Surveyor)
Ivor Allen, Businessman and Contractor (for long and outstanding service in the public sector, in the field of politics and in business)
Jeanne Atkinson, President of the Amerindian People’s Association (for long and dedicated service to the indigenous peoples of Guyana)
Basil Brentnol Blackman, former Coast Guard and Guyana Defence Force Officer (for long and dedicated service in the Maritime Sector)
Paulette Euranie Bynoe, Director of the Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Guyana(UG) (for her outstanding contribution to environmental education, training, research and the development of national policies on natural resource management issues)
Mitzy Gaynor Campbell of the Kidney Foundation of Guyana (for long service with exceptional dedication in the public and private sectors and in social work)
Malcolm Chan-A-Sue, Executive Director of Aircraft Owners’ Association (for long, dedicated service and outstanding service in the field of aviation)
Ivor Winston Crandon, Professor of Neurosurgery at the UWI (for his outstanding service in the field of medicine, for surgery in general and neuro-surgery in particular)
Doreen Patricia Duncan, retired Head Mistress (for long and dedicated service as a teacher and as a community worker in Region Two)
Fazil Shahibbdeen Ibrahim Hakh, Proprietor of F& H Printing Establishment (for outstanding service in the printing industry for over thirty-five years)
Maruice Bertwinsdel Henry, Ministry of Regional Development and Ministry of Legal Affairs (for long, dedicated and outstanding service as a Public Servant)
Sherlock Ewart Isaacs, Clerk of the National Assembly (for long and dedicated service in regional administration, in the Cabinet Secretariat and in the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana)
Leila Jagdeo, former General Manager of Guyana Book Foundation (for long and outstanding service in the Guyana Book Foundation)
Jean Benedicta Imelda La Rose, Programme Administrator of the Amerindian People’s Association (for long and dedicated service in indigenous rights activism)
Dr Paloma Ramona Francis Mohamed, Senior Lecturer of Faculties of Social Sciences and Medical Sciences (for her extensive and exceptional contributions in education and culture at the national and international levels)
Prince Albert Pompey, Councillor of Woodlands/Farm Neighbourhood Council (for long, dedicated and outstanding service in the field of local government and in politics)
Evan Brewster Bridgewater Semple (for long and meritorious service to the People of Guyana and as a Minister of the Anglican Diocese)
Gwendolin Agatha Tross, retired Lecturer (for long and dedicated service as an educator in nursing and for her pioneer role in the establishment of the degree nursing programme at the University of Guyana)
Maurice Wilfred Veecock, Senior Lecturer at UG (for service of an exceptionally high quality as a water resources and hydropower engineer in the Ministries of Works and Energy and Mines)
Anna Catherina Islamic Complex (for its outstanding service to the community in the West Demerara area)
Olga Bone Ministry of Education and University of Guyana (for long and dedicated service in the field of education)
Wordsworth Mcandrew, Broadcaster/Folk Researcher (for long, dedicated and outstanding service to Guyana, especially for his research and celebration of Guyana’s cultural heritage and as a broadcaster)
Medal of Service
The Medal of Service was awarded to the following:
Mabel Baveghems, former Member of Parliament (for long and dedicated service in the field of politics)
Gordon Chase, Ministry of the Presidency (for long service, with exceptional dedication, in the Guyana Public Service)
Roylance Patricia David, Executive Director of the Adult Education Association (for long and dedicated service in the field of education)
Jaitun Haniff-Persaud, Confidential Secretary to the Speaker (for long and dedicated service in the Public Service and more recently in the Parliament Office)
Noshella Lalckecharan, Assistant Director of Nursing Services at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (for long and dedicated service in the field of nursing)
Godfrey Emerson Marshall Advisor on Forestry for the Guyana Forestry Commission (for long and dedicated service as a Forest Officer)
Sheik Shakur Niamatali, Managing Director of Variety Woods and Green Heart Ltd (for long and outstanding service in sustainable tropical forest management, wood utilization and marketing of forest products in the development of Guyana’s Forestry Sector)
Dionysia Niewenkerk, Chairperson of Women’s Group, Lethem (for long service in the field of women’s affairs and in politics)
Amrita Thomas, Vice-Chairman of Region 7 (For service of a consistently high quality to the residents of Region 7)
Burnell Lancelot Thomas, former Vice-Chairman of Region 10 (for his long and outstanding involvement in the field of culture and in politics)
Military Service Star
The Military Service Star was awarded to Brigadier Mark Anthony Phillips, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, for service of an exceptionally high quality and beyond the normal call of duty in the Guyana Defence Force.
Military Service Medal
Wilbert Arlington Lee, retired Colonel of the Guyana Defence Force (for distinguished service beyond the normal call of duty as an officer in the Guyana Defence Force)
Walter Leyland Francis Morris, retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Guyana Defence Force (for distinguished service beyond the normal call of duty as an officer in the Guyana Defence Force)
Carol Audrey Lewis-Primo, former Assistant Commissioner of Police (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Police Force)
David Kenneth Ramnarine, Assistant Commissioner of Police (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Police Force)
Carl Vonludwig Grahame, Deputy Director of Prison (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Prison Service)
Welton Cuthbert Trotz, Director of Prison of the Guyana Prison Service (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Prison Service)
Desiree D’Santos-Moore, retired Station Officer of the Guyana Fire Service (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Fire Service)
Peter Wilson, retired Station Officer (for sustained and dedicated service of a high order in the Guyana Fire Service)