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51st Independence Celebrations of Guyana

May 26, 2017

Dr. Cyril Kenrick Hunte, High Commissioner of Guyana in South Africa hosted a reception to celebrate the 51st Independence Anniversary Celebrations. Speaking of relations between Guyana and South Africa High Commissioner Kenrick Hunte said, "Mutual respect, cooperation and common interest between Guyana and South Africa have formed the foundation on which our bilateral relations have been built, for we share common ground with South Africa on issues of ending poverty and underdevelopment; promoting peace, security and human rights; and working to achieve the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.  

Photo: Dr. Cyril Kenrick Hunte, High Commissioner of Guyana in South Africa (r) and Mr. Nkosinathi Nhleko, Minister of Public Works

We seek to engage South Africa in trade and investment that will be equally beneficial to both countries. ‘We look forward to sharing our experiences on (mitigating) … the impact of global warming, the demarcation of national parks, the identification of protected areas, and the safety and security of wildlife’.    

Through technical cooperation agreements, educational opportunities and cultural exchanges, we know we can learn much from South Africa and, they in turn, can learn much from us."

Speech by His Excellency, Dr. Cyril Kenrick Hunte, High Commissioner to South Africa from the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana

On behalf of His Excellency, President David Arthur Granger, and the Government and people of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, may I say welcome to our fifty-first Independence Anniversary Celebrations.

We are very happy that you took the time to share our Independence Day with us.  And to His Excellency, President Zuma, and the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa, our gracious host, I bring you special greetings from His Excellency, President Granger and the Government and people of Guyana.

Our diplomatic relations with South Africa began in 1994.  Prior to that date, however, Guyana was actively involved in the struggle to end Apartheid so that freedom, human dignity and democracy were attained in Southern Africa. To that end, Guyana, led at that time by Prime Minister  Forbes Burnham, took an active part in the work at the multilateral level, especially at the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Caribbean Community, in order to ensure that Apartheid was no more.   
In particular, the Government of Guyana banned Guyanese cricketers and other individuals from participating in sports events that violated the 1977 Gleneagles Accord of the Commonwealth. Additionally, it is apposite to note that the Commonwealth Secretary General at that time was a Guyanese: Sir Shridath Ramphal, a former member of the first class of Guyanese diplomats just after independence in 1966.  

Guyana provided financial resources for the freedom fighters in Africa and granted scholarships to Southern African students to attend training institutions in Guyana, as this was not accessible to them in their home countries.

There was one Guyanese novelist, Ambassador E. R. Braithwaite, and one internationally known Guyanese singer/composer, Mr. Eddie Grant, (‘Gimme Hope Jo’Anna) who used their artistic talents to convey the message why Apartheid must end.  Incidentally, the song, ‘Gimme Hope Jo’Anna’, was banned by the Apartheid Government for obvious reasons. Please therefore indulge me as I will ask to have that song, ‘Gimme Hope Jo’Anna’, played at the end of the formal part of our program.   

Additionally, since there was a shortage of skilled personnel in the frontline states, including Zambia and Zimbabwe, Guyana in the 1970s seconded skilled personnel to assist in the work conducted in several Government Departments.

Equally important, Guyana developed a safe and secure transshipment hub that facilitated the movement of Cuban troops by airplane to Angola through Cape Verde, a critical link at a time when alternatives were non-existent; and when economic and political costs were high for any country that engaged in the anti-Apartheid struggle.
This indeed was not an easy choice to make ; but Guyana never shirked from its resolute commitment in ensuring that Apartheid was abolished; and embraced these actions wholeheartedly, because we believed that freedom, liberty and democracy are indivisible and sacrosanct, for no one can be human, if any other human being is denied the same human rights. This is the spirit of UBUNTU that Archbishop Desmond Tutu explained; and I quote:
“None of us come into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings, unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. (He ends by stating), “I am, because other people are.”  End of quote.   

Your Excellencies,
In recognition of Guyana’s contribution to end Apartheid and to ensure freedom in Africa, Mr. O. R. Tambo visited Guyana in 1987. In his speech at a rally welcoming him to Guyana, Mr. O. R. Tambo stated the following ; and I quote:
‘This rally is a powerful message to us that the people of Guyana and their leadership take our struggle as their own (because)  … the chains that bind us, bind you as well… (but)…there is no doubt that Apartheid is retreating (and that the struggle) … is certain to be won.’ End of quote.

Certainly, Mr. O. R. Tambo’s statement reflected the notion of UBUNTU and his prediction was correct that Apartheid would end, as it did seven years later in 1994.  

Your Excellencies,
Mutual respect, cooperation and common interest between Guyana and South Africa have formed the foundation on which our bilateral relations have been built, for we share common ground with South Africa on issues of ending poverty and underdevelopment; promoting peace, security and human rights; and working to achieve the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.  

We seek to engage South Africa in trade and investment that will be equally beneficial to both countries. ‘We look forward to sharing our experiences on (mitigating) … the impact of global warming, the demarcation of national parks, the identification of protected areas, and the safety and security of wildlife’.    

Through technical cooperation agreements, educational opportunities and cultural exchanges, we know we can learn much from South Africa and, they in turn, can learn much from us.

Additionally, Guyana has embraced a Green Development Program ; and we are looking for partners to help us build a strong foundation so that future generations can enjoy the same natural environment that we have come to cherish, with its many different flora and fauna in the Guiana Shield.

The Guiana Shield encompasses contiguous lands in Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.  Hence, this is a cooperative responsibility that these six countries share in maintaining the pristine environment, for these plants and animals are the original owners of the Shield.  Consequently, they do not have passports or visas and they will never understand borders.  

On another topic, it should be noted that we have a technical agreement on air travel with South Africa; and there are upcoming agreements for University exchanges as well as other programs in several sectors, especially in mining, tourism, agriculture, agro-processing, and energy.  

Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In today’s world, where the international community is being fractured by all sorts of barriers; and diplomacy is being tested at every turn, we hold the view that international cooperation must be the focus of Government-to-Government collaboration in order to successfully deal with matters related to climate change and ending terrorism which is a transnational crime that requires transnational solutions.  Consequently, we all share in this collective obligation and as members of the international community, this is another cooperative responsibility to find workable solutions in the shortest possible time, for all the low hanging fruit have already been harvested and only the hard work remains.  

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
This year South Africa is celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of Mr. O. R. Tambo, a remarkable human being who galvanized the international community against racism and Apartheid; and one who worked tirelessly in mobilizing the international community in order to ensure a free and democratic South Africa.  

In this regard, we celebrate with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the South African people the contributions of Mr. O. R. Tambo, for his life exemplifies humility, integrity, passion and patriotism.   Join me, therefore, in paying homage to this distinguished son of the soil.

Finally, we thank you for your time and your presence here today, as we celebrate our fifty-first independence anniversary. We look forward, with confidence, to the growing bilateral relations between South Africa and Guyana. Please, therefore raise your glasses in a toast to our future success. Thank you very much.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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November/December 2018

 
 
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