The Mash Secretariat says preparations for Mashramani 2009 are well underway with a preliminary roster and plans to host activities in every region.
According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release this year’s theme is “One Dream One Celebration, One Design in 2009.” The national calendar includes a Mash Jamboree on January 30 and a junior calypso competition in Region Five on January 31. The release said in 2007 the junior competition was held in the Central Rupununi, Region Nine and it attracted hundreds of spectators including Brazilians and other foreigners. It was sponsored by Demerara Distillers Limited, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph and Ansa McAl.
The adult calypso semi-final is billed for February 7 in Bartica, Region Seven. The finals will be held on February 14 in Georgetown. Young Bill Rogers walked away with the title last year after stiff competition from Mighty Rebel with his song “We’re still a paradise.”
The semi-final of the Mash Soca Monarch competition is also expected to be a major attraction. It will be held in Linden, Region Ten on January 31. The finals are set for the National Park on February 15. GINA said reigning monarch Adrian Dutchin will not be defending his crown though many “big names” are expected to contest it. The semi-final round of the chutney competition is billed for Uitvlugt on the same day while the finals will be held on February 21.
The calendar also boasts a steel band concert in the Botanical Gardens on February 8, a masquerade band competition in Linden and a police band concert on the seawall on February 15.
The Children’s Mash Competition will be held from February 18 to 21, a mash concert is set for the National Park and Steelband at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on February 21, a media jump-up at the National Communications Network on February 22, and flag raising and costume and float parade in Georgetown on February 23.
Activities at the regional level will include church services, community clean-up campaign, regional concerts, senior citizens’ recognition, school debating and essay writing competitions, day of sport and memorial services. This year’s roster will also include an inter Neighbourhood Democratic Council competition for the best aesthetics, a child art and essay competition and an exhibition at the National Museum tracing the history and showcasing artifacts of the festival.
Culture Minister Dr Frank Anthony said Calypsonians are already busy rehearsing and some have even submitted their lyrics and accompanying sound tracks. He said too corporate sponsorship has been “fairly good” this year and companies will be playing a more integral role in certain aspects of the activities.
The release said too before 2007 Mashramani celebrations had never before “encompassed all of Guyana’s regions but this became a reality…with additional funding and through the efforts of the broad-based committee comprising Government Ministries, the Georgetown Mayor and City Council, Guyana Police Force (GPF), Guyana Prison Service (GFS) local designers and other stakeholders.”
Mashramani, an Amerindian word meaning celebration after hard work, dates back to 1966, when The Jaycees, a family group in Linden came up with the idea of an Independence Carnival in McKenzie.
When Guyana became a republic in 1970 the group had called themselves the Jaycees Republic Celebrations Committee and started a broad based committee to spearhead the activity.