Celebrating Guyana-in New York

- Oh, I See…no DEA presence here

I’m pretty sure that I used my lead caption in this newspaper a few years ago. But it bears repetition today, believe me.

Unabashedly and whole-heartedly, I’m lauding the work of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc, which, in my assessment of this year’s tenth anniversary activities, out-did the  “effort to preserve, promote and  propagate  Guyana’s culture”.

Frankly speaking, within its past decade the GCA of New York has equaled or actually surpassed local private efforts-I mean within our Guyana borders-to preserve and promote our nation’s folk heritage, meaning all aspects of our cultural  traditions  and practices. Our very identity and legacy as a distinct, recognizable people.

It could be argued (lamely) that we who actually remain and live in the Big Beautiful but Blighted Greenland, do not need to specially showcase and package our Guyana culture because we live it every day. Not so, I contend. Everything we experienced, created, lived, loved, feared or overcame, must inform our existence, our identity and nationhood, even our destiny. These things must reflect  our cultural expression and presence-through our art, music,  dance, drama, crafts, literature, folkloric and contemporary beliefs and practices.

And this is what the New York-based Cultural Associa-tion-reaching out to hundreds of thousands of both legal and undocumented Guyanese around the USA- has ably promoted for ten years. With remarkably limited financial resources. I risk sin and condemnation of omission when I mention only the names of Vibert Cambridge, Edgar Henry, Maurice Blenman, Verna Walcott, Dr Juliet Emmanuel, Tangerine Clarke, Ron Lammy, Colin Bobb-Semple, Claire Goring, Bobby Viera, Denis Nelson, Rose October, Ashton Franklyn, Negla Brandis, Francis and Maggie and Godfrey. Yes, another dozen or so had decided to band together, structure and operationalise an organization and annual programme of events, which today proclaim and celebrate Guyana to the world.

The Diaspora, after all is all of us, dispersed, spending time or living outside of the 83 000 square miles. We and they-must show the political managers, especially that proud, patriotic people love and respect that Guyana Golden Arrowhead. I heartily commend New York’s GCA.I discern no ulterior agenda, whoever “de Govament” in Georgetown. (Despite and in-spite of the negative destructive effects their politics often cause).

Tenth anniversary activities

They outdid themselves this year, I repeat. The weeks long programme included moonlight  storytelling, A Literary Hang, the one-week Summer Heritage Camp where-by the children of the Diaspora are taught things culturally Guyanese, an Exhibition, A Film and Video Festival, the Awards Cere-mony which bestows accolades on Guyanese cultural Contributors and facilitators, a rousing Kweh-Kweh Nite, A Symposium mainly for academics, writers and researchers and the (kind of) culmination that is the family fun day. (This tenth year will also accommodate a Perform-ing Arts Festival as this month ends)

Now I’m somewhat familiar with the programme of the Department of Culture in our Ministry of Culture here in Georgetown. When allowed to be fertilized and matured, it can blossom into all or more of what obtains in New York. From supporting all cultural  anniversary observances, to sending cultural troupes abroad, to hosting interactive performing groups from other cultures, to teaching steel pan and organizing the Massive Mashramani festival which showcases all our culture, the local culture “authorities” must also be praised, even as we beseech them to reach out more tangibly to our Diasporic family of cultural promoters.

Brief  N.Y. glimpses

Limited space prevents me from describing in any detail the three GAC/NY events I participated in over  the past week-end. In New York briefly, with  intentions not related to merely cultural things, I was lucky to be at the Friday Night Kweh-Kweh re-enactment. If you see ‘American Guyanese” let their hair down and their waists go! The Symposium offered two Round Tables, as I was pleased to hear Harry Hergash, Frank Birbalsingh, Dr Paloma Mohammed, Dr Vibert Cambridge, Gillian Richards, John Criswick, Cynthia Nelson, Dr Walter Edwards, Dr Lear Matthews, Ken Corsbie, Peter Jailall and Desmond Roberts among others. Allan Fenty’s ‘genesis” of his folkloric-proverbs occupation was also well-appreciated too.

Soon I’ll discuss much of what was explored that morning-from Nelson’s use of food to define our ethnic challenges and triumphs, to Dr Mohammed’s research on a unique Creole newspaper, to what Desmond Roberts discovered about Indo-Guyanese in New York.

Oh yes, and all about the exciting, frenetic, productive Family Fun Day Festival. Bravo GCA/NY! One day we’ll become “Aal baady,waan baady”.

What!, no DEA office in GT??

Not really in a position yet to join in the Wiki-Leaks (Guyana) frenzy, I however must spare just a little space to wonder about former American Ambassador Roland Bullen’s thoughts on Guyana’s alleged headlong plunge into being a narco-state and his interpretation of the Guyana response in 2006. Then Ambassador Bullen had spelt out clearly all the why’s/reasons he wanted a US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Office established in Georgetown.

Early in his post-92 Administration, Dr Cheddi  Jagan had requested Ameri-can assistance in our anti-narcotics fight. He had told the Americans not to seize our commercial planes found with narcotics in New York but to help us more from George-town and Timehri. This government  laments, ostensibly, alleged lacklustre, inadequate responses from the foreign governments and “drugs markets”.

So, four simple questions from me: Is it our “sovereignty” or “American conditions” that prevent the DEA presence in Georgetown? Who benefits from diminished expertise and resources to investigate, identify and prosecute Drug Cartel Operatives here? What’s the latest on this from our government? Would not a Granger government, say accept the DEA? Discuss.


1)Note that this weekend marks ten years since the September 11 Terrorist attacks on the USA.

A lively debate on security, vis-à-vis rights, has emerged. From the Airport invasive scanning and searches to the now rigorous Big Brother surveillance cameras  (around New York), the issues scream at you. Should people’s every move be recorded? No Privacy anymore?

Me? I say give me security over privacy, as long as it is in the interest of our personal and public good. What say you??

2) I felt so hurt. But they were doing their job. Two sets of “security” at the Timehri International searched my outgoing luggage because of certain “shapes” the scanners detected. My books were at risk! In danger!

See what the real drug mules and couriers cause honest, decent, law-abiding, upright, exemplary, innocent, persons and passengers like me? Fyah Bun All Drug-runner  Travellers!

3)What date in November will you-all be voting? Who are the running-mates??

Til next week.

(Comments??allanafenty @yahoo.com)

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