Next year, Guyana celebrates 50 years as an independent nation. Whoo-hoo! There are certain milestones that are viewed as exceptional and 50 years is one such. It’s referred to as the Golden Jubilee.
Usually for such a significant milestone, the celebrations go beyond the norm. Today, with six months to go before the actual date of Guyana’s Golden Jubilee, give or take a few days, information on the celebration is sparse. The only things the general public knows for sure is that Minister of Education Dr Rupert Roopnaraine has been named chair of the National Commemoration Commission and that there is a logo, which was unveiled two weeks ago. Oh, and one more thing, a lot of Guyanese from the Diaspora are coming home for the celebration.
In August, a press release was issued which stated that any time now, the general public will be informed of the composition of the commission, its full mandate, and the activities planned. It is now almost the end of October.
Here’s the thing, the average person who is getting married—and this is a one-day event in most cases—starts planning sometimes 8 months to a year in advance. Heck, the average person celebrating their 50th birthday starts planning at 49. This is our Golden Jubilee, not the Commission’s, Guyana’s so why aren’t Guyanese privy to the plans or the proposed list of activities?
What was very strange was the limited release of information to the government-owned newspaper, the Guyana Chronicle, by way of an interview, which gave a low-key report to what should be big news. Among the snippets of information in that report was that Eddy Grant has “indicated his willingness to perform.”
If this is indeed the case, this is not information that should be handed out in a piecemeal fashion. The report said the Commission “will respond in the affirmative, giving him a superstar welcome.” Well the Commission has already gone about things the wrong way. If it had not yet responded to Eddy and completed negotiations with him that information had no business being put out there. That is not how you treat a superstar. You could hint at having a “big name” artiste; you could say you are in talks with a superstar, but you don’t say you have a commitment until the deal is signed and sealed. Who are these people? And what other similar events have they planned? Lest we forget, the May 26 Inauguration this year had disaster written all over it.
There was also some reference to “mass games,” international music festivals, athletics and football matches and GuyExpo. Really. With the exception of mass games, all of the above occur annually. What will be done differently to make the celebration a special one? We have to assume that there will be a flag-raising ceremony, right? And most likely it will have the usual cultural component so there will be some local acts. What else? What of local artists, sculptors, designers, dramatists? Is there a place for them? There is a logo, why not a Golden Jubilee song competition? No one has written a national song in about 50 years – maybe less, but not much less.
The Commission is courting Guyanese in the Diaspora, but why not court tourists as well? Guyana has a lot to offer in terms of its eco-tourism, but there is a need to get people to come. By now there should have been discount offers out perhaps geared towards tourists who would have been born in 1966, or something else that would grab attention.
What is being done to boost patriotism and get locals really excited about the Jubilee? Just so you know, for me personally mass games will not cut it. It just brings to mind long harrowing days in the hot sun. Has input been sought from the all of the various sectors? What of the involvement of the private sector? Will there be Golden Jubilee sales? Specials? Or is everyone just going to be doing his/her own thing? I mean if we’re looking for social cohesion, I would think that coming together for the Golden Jubilee would be an excellent place to start. Over to you National Commemoration Commission.