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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

National Day of Villages

Hits: 3650 | Published Date: 07 Nov, 2013
| Speech delivered at: 63rd Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Joseph Hamilton, MP

Mr. Hamilton: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I will not attempt to speak to 1839, 1834 or 1831. I will attempt to speak to myself as a village boy growing up in the village. Secondly, what the villages have become today, and I suspect that in keeping with the resolution the last line is suggesting that in order to respect the pioneering purchases and to promote national appreciation of the village movement at all levels I would humbly submit that to do that we that are in this House tonight will have to resolve to do more than printing some stamps and some commemorative coins. That is my humble opinion. The Leader of the Opposition, the mover of the motion, spoke to what he calls the character of the village. I would submit that the character of the village and villages would have been commitment, would have been sacrifice, would have been a recognition that education will take one out of poverty. That was the character of the villages.
Another important character that many commentators today when they speak to the issue of crime, criminality, delinquency and social degradation they point to the school system to rectify those matters. Some people point to the religious leaders to rectify those matters. What I am not hearing in the conversation is the parenting of children to rectify the social degradation and that was the character of the village so for me the history is good but I am saying that the villages are in need of a second emancipation and so whilst the coin and the stamp are good and commendable, I would submit that we go beyond that, as I said before, because the villages are in need of going back to where they were; where they were productive organisms.
The Leader of the Opposition, the presenter of the motion, spoke to the fact that these people were illiterate peasants. Even though illiterate, there was the recognition that the generation after them must not and should not be illiterate also and therefore, as I said, the conversation in restoring pride and dignity to the villages and their people is for all of us who call ourselves leaders in this society to go to the heart of the matter, which is parenting of our children whom we have brought into this world. That is the conversation, I suppose.
Some time ago, maybe a couple of months ago or some time earlier this year the Kaieteur Newspaper had a full middle page article of a man who was 65 years at that time. He has 64 children by 16 different ‘child mothers’ and that was a role model presented by a national newspaper. It was not a discourse as to how he contributed to the development of those children. It was a discourse as to how his name... The paper said that they called him ‘Sugar Foot’ because he was a good dancer and so here was a paper that is well read presenting to this nation, presenting to young men to this country a role model. As I said, when I was asked to speak on this motion I never at all considered having a conversation about the slaves purchasing the villages. I want to have a ‘now conversation’ about villages. The ‘now conversation’ is that the villages are in serious crisis.
When I grew up about nine miles from here, Beterverwagting/Triumph, the village was a productive place. Now people live in that area and they say that they are coming to Georgetown to buy greens. That was unheard of when I was growing up. It was unheard of that somebody living in Plaisance was coming to buy greens when one has a big back yard which one could plant. That is what, for me, I submit Hon. Leader of the Opposition, I would have wanted to see beyond the stamps and the coins; speaking to the issue, at the heart and soul, as you indicated about getting back to the character of the village. What it was, as I said before, parenting our children that we brought into this world and I submit that many of the issues that we are faced with which we grapple with today – security, crime, teenage pregnancy, high school dropouts, drugs... I submit that if people commit to parenting their children... I hear people who are political leaders speak and they speak in a way saying that the Government is responsible for these children and their delinquencies. They speak in a way where the Government is responsible for their criminal conduct and there is no conversation as to where the father of this child is, where is the mother of this child?
I submit that we cannot want to, every night, wine with Buju Banton and Machel Montano and parent our children. We have to decide which one we want to do. As I said, we have to return for the village day to mean anything to the people of the villages and to this nation we have to return to the character of the villages, the heart and soul of the villages. That is what we have to do in my humble opinion. Sometimes one hears political leaders speak and they say ‘This young man is delinquent. He is a criminal because of poverty.’ For most of us, if not all of us, that grew up in the villages grew up in poverty. Do you know what is amusing? What people call poverty today is living in a city... people have three antennae on their houses, three flat screen televisions and they say ‘poverty’. When I grew up in the village down the street they had one Grundig radio and so when there was boxing at any time all the males in the village would congregate at this one neighbour’s house because that was the only radio in the street. The point is that as much as we were poor that did not drive us to become criminals. That is the point because I hear political leaders suggesting that because a child is poor that, apparently, should allow for him to be involved in criminal conduct. I am submitting that for most, of us if not all of us, who grew up in the villages, grew up very poor. I could not speak for people who grew up in the urban centres. I can speak for us who grew up in the villages. We came from humble and poor beginnings.
We cannot, as fathers and mothers, as I said, abandon our children and we hope that the village will strive. We cannot have properties and have our priorities screwed and we leave them to fall into a state of disrepair while we spend cash in other things that are not important to us. When I was growing up I grew up with my grandparents and I recall that in those days an ICEE drink was 25 cents and so if you have 25 cents and you wanted to buy an ICEE my grandfather would say ‘You might want an ICEE drink but you do not need an ICEE drink and so you should buy...’ two pounds of sugar at that time was 5 cents and two limes and you would have ‘swank’ for the whole day and you would still have change.
The point is that today many persons want so much but no sacrifice must come. Young women and young men want so much but they do not want to sacrifice.
I am using this opportunity to speak to some of the issues that, I think, are clouded in conversations where people are not speaking to the real issues. Whilst I commend the Opposition Leader for bringing the motion to the floor I would submit, as I said, Sir, that if indeed the intention is to honour and respect the pioneering purchasers and to promote national appreciation of the village movement at all levels, then we in this National Assembly should commit to ensuring that there is a second emancipation for the villages.
Let me make this point. The Opposition Leader indicated, in his presentation, that one of the things that the free slaves attempted to do very quickly and urgently was to reconnect with their families that they were separated from. The commitment to family was the character of the village. Therefore I submit that for the villages to be restored to where they were and for us to truly appreciate the sacrifice made by our forebearers we need to go beyond, as I said, not just the commemorative stamp and the coin, and to seek to, all of us together, see how much we can work to ensure that villages rekindle their character of entrepreneurship that does not exist anymore in them.
For most of the villages, many persons who live in the urban centre would not know that, behind on the East Coast, there are large expanses of hundreds of thousands of acres of land, which once were productive places, where the villages were self-sustained and they were able to live off the land. In my view, to really commemorate the sacrifice of the forbearers is that we should return to make the villages, as I said, productive organisms.
Secondly, the character of villages was disciplined and respect, where elderly persons, females and all and sundry were respected and a sense of discipline prevailed.
Whilst I have no qualms with the motion I just thought that in my contribution I make the point that, for me, honouring the forebearers means, or should be, more than seeking to honour them with some stamps and some commemorative coins. We must do more and we should do more to ensure that the villages are returned to where they were. If indeed we are discussing the establishing of a national day of villages we have to do more than that and I hope that we will consider that. When the other resolution about what to do come I will have my ideas.   [Mr. Nagamootoo: Give them $50 million each.]    That will not resolve the problem. You have to put discipline; you have to put sense of family life; you have to put a commitment to family and you have to put sacrifice before the money because you can give them $400 million and the villages will be in the same condition as  they are tonight. It is unless and until you bring the villages back to the character it had, Mr. Nagamootoo. 
Let me say that I look forward to all of us in this National Assembly to really celebrate National Village Day and to have the villages emancipated for a second time.
Thank you very much. [Applause]

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