It is the responsibility of leaders to unify Guyana – President Ali
President Dr Irfaan Ali, during the launch of the commemorative centenary stamps launched in honour of Janet Jagan’s 100th birth anniversary, said it is the country’s leaders who will have to take up the responsibility and lead the charge towards achieving unification.
“This does not rest on the people out there. This rests entirely on the shoulders of leaders. We cannot lead without dignity. We cannot lead in a way that is disrespectful to the laws of our country. I assure you; every single day of this Government’s life will be spent dedicated to this task; it will be achieved. It must be achieved. We have to break down those invisible walls and bring our people together, we owe this to the legacy of those who worked tirelessly, and selflessly, we owe this to our future generation, and we have to fix it now and fix it in this generation, and to not leave this burden upon those who will come after us. So today, as you reflect, I ask us to reignite in ourselves that spirit which saw us victorious so many times in our country. We are at our best when we’re united,” Ali charged.
He lauded the former President for the role she played in fighting for a unified Guyana and added that much still needs to be done in the area.
“The time has come for us in this country to reflect with honourable intentions, to reflect with a passion, and a commitment to achieve what those who struggled selflessly, wanted to achieve. And that is the unification of our people. It is the most pressing issue for us as a people. We talk a lot these days about economic bonanza that will come about, the great wealth that will come, about lifting our people from poverty. But today I say to you, the greatest of tasks and challenge for all of us, is unification of our people,” the President noted.
President Ali hailed Jagan as the torchbearer of freedom and democracy – principles which he said the PPP still adheres to upkeep. He noted that she left behind a legacy that immortalises her in history since the party she has helped found has produced six Executive Presidents and numerous leaders in the political and civil arenas.
The President also called on those gathered to remember the former President’s role as a “trailblazer” on the path to Guyana’s liberty, first from the stronghold of colonial rule and later from the vice-like grip of dictatorship when she joined her husband, former President Cheddi Jagan, on the political frontlines. Ali said that Jagan’s fighting spirit was complimented by her warm and kind heart.
He added that the former President often gave away her earnings to people, oftentimes strangers, who needed help. Jagan had a special affinity for children and published a number of children’s books as she looked to give back in every way possible.
“Janet Jagan’s achievements were innumerable and monumental. But the greatest of these were the two which constitutes her outstanding legacy to this country – freedom and democracy. Today, we commemorate the centenary of her birth. We mark this auspicious anniversary with the issuance of this commemorative stamp. It is a small gesture for a woman who believed in the goodness and greatness of small things,” he said.
Janet Jagan is recognised as one of Guyana’s foremost women leaders and would have worn several caps throughout her years of service to the Guyanese people. She wore the hats of first female President, Prime Minister, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Government Minister, freedom fighter among many others.
Jagan was one of the founders of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the party’s youth and women’s arm – the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) and the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO). She died in March of 2009.
In her honour, the Cheddi Jagan Research Institute in collaboration with the Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC) launched the commemorative centenary stamps at State House on Tuesday. The launch was conducted by President Ali.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mark Phillips, who has responsibility for the GPOC, said that the practice of issuing commemorative stamps to honour historic landmarks is one that is revered across the world. He noted that Jagan was a woman of extraordinary political significance to Guyana. He noted that she was a true believer in strong and active leadership and had a vested interest in the betterment and development of Guyana.
He said that stamps will serve as an added preservation of Jagan’s legacy and political contribution to Guyana.
The stamps will be available across four denominations and will depict four memorable occasions – Jagan’s visit to London in 1964, her address at the United Nations General Assembly as President in 1998, a light moment during her Presidency during December 1997 and August 1999, and her address at a May Day rally in the 1970s. They go on sale today and will be available at all post offices across the country until stocks last.
Ian Jagan, the former President’s great-nephew, represented the family at the launch. He remembered her as a very loving, caring and hardworking woman. He urged everyone to continue to work to realise her vision of making a united Guyana.
The Cheddi Jagan Research Institute was also represented at the launch. (G2)