Happy Arrival Day

Dear Editor,
As we celebrate Portuguese and Indian Arrival Day on May 3 and May 5, respectively, we must continue to show our gratitude to our ancestors for their sacrifices which have shaped our present and influence our future.
Berbice is blessed to have the villages of the Portuguese Quarter and Calcutta along the Corentyne Coast. A strong reminder of our indentured immigrant past. Clearly, the beauty of these two cultures remains ever-present in the ancient county.
Thanks to the arrival of the Portuguese and Indians, we have gained independence. The influence and contributions of many sons and daughters of these two cultures including Minster of Finance Peter D’Aguiar and HE President Dr Cheddi Jagan have spurred significant growth of our nation.
These two esteemed sons of Guyana formed and led their own political parties which championed the cause of the Portuguese and Indian members of our society. This is but a small example of the great heritage that has been rooted in Guyana thanks to the arrival of the Portuguese and Indians.
The recent celebration of Labour Day on May 1 was not only a celebration of today’s workers but it was also another form of showing our continual gratitude to the sacrifices made by the Portuguese and Indians that arrived many years ago to help build the sugar industry of Guyana. It is with this gratitude we continue to show our respect to these fellow citizens who on equal footing have led and built our nation, leading us to where we are today.
They have strengthened our future by continually making significant contributions to the development of Guyana. As another humble son of Portuguese and Indian immigrants, I must also acknowledge the difficulty faced by the Portuguese and Indians in our society despite the many contributions made over the years. The disunity in our society that many attribute to the sugar industry and the redistribution of labour in the 1800s continues to be a challenge of today yet to be overcome.
For those who do not share nor identify with the heritage of the Portuguese and Indians, I invite you to consider how different Guyana’s history would be today without the contributions of these two great cultures. We must not see each other as perpetual rivals, but instead, accept that we each have a positive role to play in our country’s development. With this in mind, as we celebrate the arrival of our ancestors to Guyana, let us recommit ourselves towards and continue to strive for unity and shared prosperity in the future Guyana we hope to achieve.

Best regards,
Jamil Changlee