CWM meets Guyana Government and Guyana Reparations Committee

by CWM Communications Team

Council for World Mission (CWM), the Guyana Government’s Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport, and the Guyana Reparations Committee attended a meeting, hosted by Hon. Charles Ramson Jr,  Minister of Culture, Youth & Sport on 1 June 2023. Describing the Guyana government’s plans to mark the bicentenary of the 1823 Demerara Uprising, a key moment in the struggle of emancipation of the enslaved, the minister sought CWM’s support, and was assured of CWM’s readiness for collaboration by CWM Deputy General Secretary Dr Sudipta Singh.

Prior to the meeting with the Minister of Culture was a meeting at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs hosted by Ambassador George Talbot on behalf of the President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Eric Phillips, chair of the Guyana Reparations Committee outlined the bicentenary plans for August 2023, and beyond. In addition to a memorial service and international conference on reparations, the bicentenary will have a year-long exhibition at the National Gallery, Georgetown.

Ms Tamika Boatswain, Director of Culture, spoke about the importance of the year-long exhibition as an educational, historical and cultural contribution of the Guyana government to the bicentenary. Other government initiatives planned for August include launching a commemorative stamp and coin, preparing and distribution of books for children about slavery focusing on stories of agency of slaves, preparing and disseminating a documentary about the 1823 Demerara Uprising, and the marketing of heritage packages and tours.

In response to the Guyana Reparations Committee and representatives of the Guyana government’s request for CWM’s support to mark the bicentenary, CWM committed to contributing material from its archives to the year-long exhibition to mark the 1823 Demerara Uprising. Rev Dr Michael Jagessar informed the meetings that CWM archives contain Quamina’s letters, letters from the London Missionary Society (LMS) Missionaries and from the LMS Office, Colonial Newspaper coverage of the rebellion and the trials, and journals from plantation owners and LMS missionaries from the period of the Demerara Uprising. At the invitation of the Guyana Reparations Committee, and with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Culture, Youth & Sports, CWM agreed to contribute to the national memorial service in August 2023.

The service will be held at Bethel Congregational Church, a member of the Guyana Congregational Union (GCU), a CWM member church. Quamina, assassinated leader of the 1823 Demerara Uprising, was a deacon at Bethel Congregational Church, and the church is home to the emancipation bell. Quamina is a national hero in Guyana with streets named after him, replacing colonial names. Members of the CWM Caribbean Region had earlier placed a commemorative wreath at the feet of the 1823 memorial sculpture in Georgetown during the CWM Members’ Mission Forum (MMF).

Highlighting the CWM work on legacies of slavery and its commitment to reparations, Rev. Dr Graham McGeoch told the meeting that this was the start of a conversation, and that CWM was committed to contributing the 1823 bicentenary alongside the Guyana Reparations Committee and the Guyana Government. The Minster for Culture, Youth & Sport, Hon Charles Ramson told the meeting, “This is really significant for our country and our people”.

At the invitation of CWM, the Guyana Government and Guyana Reparations Committee will visit the CWM archives in June 2023 to view material related to the 1823 Demerara Uprising.

You may also like