I did not bother to go to the Rupununi Rodeo this year. I had my reasons, one of which is the fact that the event is on its way out.
I spoke with more than 50 persons who went to the Rodeo. The consensus was the same, “it was boring.” The older folks took the time to reminisce on the Rodeo of old, while the younger generation said they had no time for the rodeo except for the after-event parties. What was obvious too, was the drastic reduction of our extra-regional guests this year. This speaks volumes about the state of the event.
As if things were not bad enough, the President, in opening the event, made no reference to the Rodeo or its significance to this part of the country. He made no mention of, or gave recognition to the founders of this, now National event. Instead he insulted the patrons with his diseased rhetoric on the budget cuts. The President surely knows not about time and place.
He mentioned nothing about his plans for the resuscitation of the cattle industry which is in tatters, and on which the Rodeo is based. He mentioned no plans to have the Rupununi’s beef re-enter the coastal market to boost the ranchers’ flagging fortunes; he made no mention of any value-added projects/programmes for the beef. The President is so out of touch.
Another issue with the Rodeo is the loss of its original flavour. The Rodeo started as an inter-ranch competition where the native Rupunu-nians showcased their skills in the various departments of vacqueroship. Their families and supporters would converge on the venue with their Bullock carts laden with all the indigenous niceties – parakari, fly, casserie, passock, smoked meat and fish, tuma, boily boily, farine, cassava bread, topica ect. Everyone used to have a grand time during and after the event. They were treated to a very high level of competition.
That touch is no more. We now have Stag, Carib and Parbo to build a head; we now have fried rice and chowmein to satisfy that grumbling in the stomach.
Important to note is the absence of our National Beer at a National Event. In Brazil a beer is either Nova Schin or Antarctica; in Suriname a beer is Parbo; in Trinidad a beer is Carib; and, in Jamaica a beer is Red Stripe. Why in Guyana, at a National event the patrons cannot get a Banks beer? Sponsorship issues aside, we should ensure that our local industries get the boost they deserve. Patrons should not be told what they can or cannot drink.
That is not the issue though. The issue is that the original beverages and cuisine are now relegated to the periphery, literally. They are being scoffed at by the new organisers who really are impostors who know or care nothing about the origins of the Rodeo.
The event, which is being touted as a tourist attraction is nothing but a big commercial scam. Let’s talk tourism. Which person will travel across the Atlantic, travel through all four natural regions of Guyana to eat fry rice and drink a Coca Cola? They can get that in North America. Similarly, our coastal-based patrons can get a chowmein or lowmein from any Chinese restaurant in George-town or elsewhere on coastal Guyana.
Here we are in the Rupununi, with a golden opportunity to market our indigenous foods and drinks. How often can a person in North America get a bowl full of parakari to drink? Similarly, with what regularity will a man on the East Coast get a handful of passock to eat? Get my drift? People do not leave the comfort of their environment, take a long hazardous trip to eat the same foods they have just left behind. They travel to experience everything in their new environment, foods and drinks inclusive.
Should this be taken on board, it will bring untold benefits to our ordinary residents, who will now be in competition with each other to produce a better drink or a more fiery tuma, much to the satisfaction of our guests, who will now be encouraged to make the Rodeo a permanent fixture on their calendars. The benefits can be tremendous for all.
As is the case presently, the Rodeo benefits the organizers who have repeatedly failed to produce an audited account of any of the Rodeos. In their hungry quest to maximize on their takings, they are quickly killing the golden egg-laying goose.