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The inaugural Emancipation Games will be launched next August, the 185th year of Emancipation and the Bicentennial Anniversary of the Demerara Slave Revolt. The non-government Emancipation Games Committee, in a release, said the event is timely both for the fact that the games will pay homage to the emancipation milestone and the ushering in of the observance of the resistance to slavery.
The games, which will be annually on August 4 and 5, are being held under the aegis of the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana (IDPADA-G) as a legacy to people of African descent in Guyana.
The event will come on the heels of the traditional Emancipation Day celebrations of August 1 and also precede the observance of the bicentennial anniversary of the Demerara Slave Revolt.
On August 18, 1823 more than 10,000 slaves from about 55 plantations between Liliendaal and Mahaica participated in the Demerara Uprising. The rebellion, which was the result of the enslaved dissatisfaction with their servitude lasted for two day before being crushed The memory of the uprising, particularly the death of a White minister of religion, John Smith, helped to attract attention in England inside and outside of Parliament to the necessity of eliminating the terrible evil of slavery, said historian Professor Winston McGowan. Further, noted McGowan, this played a part in influencing the momentous decision made in 1833 to abolish slavery in the British Empire with effect from 1st August 1834.
Quamina, one of the leaders in the rebellion and the father of Jack Gladstone, is one of Guyana’s national heroes. A statue is erected in his honour at the Georgetown Seawalls. Murray Street, Georgetown was renamed Quamina Street in his honour.
The Emancipation Games Committee has several events planned for the Games. These will include the feature Emancipation Race that consists of a long-distance road race open to all interested runners and aimed at culminating the celebration of emancipation and acknowledging the commemoration of the 1823 Demerara Slave Revolt.
Consultations with several villages about the Games have commenced and similar engagements with other villages will be undertaken. The list of participating villages will be announced upon completion of the consultations. Also, the Committee is evaluating several grounds on the East Coast for the hosting of the Games.