Guyanese no longer know the national songs

Dear Editor,

Much service was not done to the beautiful, meaningful words of our national anthem when it was sung last Tuesday morning at a flag-raising ceremony in New Amsterdam. The judges of the hit TV show ‘American Idol’ might very well have scolded the singer for a poor rendering of the song.

But putting all of that aside, usually the best singers are sought after for singing a country’s national anthem. The Super Bowl Games held each year in America have a celebrity singer singing the ‘Star- Spangled Banner’ in front of a crowd of thousands as well as millions of viewers worldwide. It is the event of the evening – the singing of the US anthem.

I have advocated in the past having persons to sing our national anthem since neither our military nor the masses know how to sing properly. We also usually have the military playing an instrumental version of the anthem. This is good, but people must hear the words out loud, because they have many implications for us as a people. The good Reverend AL Luker must have spent time thinking of the words of our anthem; he certainly didn’t write it by chance.

Could our Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport not find good people to sing our national anthem? Where are all the winners of this singing contest and that jingle competition? So next time, could planners please select people who can actually do justice to the music of the anthem?

For now, I guess, ‘Dear Land of Guyana’ will take its place among the forgotten national songs of Guyana. They too are hardly heard these days. I remember participating in singing every Wednesday afternoon in primary school. We used to sing every national song you can think about. I even remember some words and music thanks to the school curriculum back then. Nowadays we only hear national songs (sometimes not even then) during Mash and Independence.

Oh, if we but understood the words of national songs such as, ‘Salute to Guyana’ by WRA Pilgrim; ‘A Song of Hope’ by RCG Potter; ‘Arise Guyana’ by Valerie Rodway, ‘Treat All Guyanese Equal’; ‘On the Banks of the Kako River’; ‘Children of Guyana’ – and how can I forget this one I learned in primary school, ‘Way Down in Demerara’ by RCG Potter. That one we learned by rote and sang and sang until we knew the tune.

How many Guyanese know that there is a national song about the Berbice ferry written by Sr Rose Magdalene?

What kind of generation are we raising if they do not know the national songs of the land which gave them birth?

Yours faithfully,
Leon Jameson Suseran

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