As one of many thousands of Guyanese who returned to the scene of the time when the majestic Golden Arrowhead was raised on the north side of Georgetown at the National Park on May 26, 1966 by Guyana Defence Force (GDF) lieutenant Desmond Roberts to mark our country’s independence from British rule, by calculation I admit to being well over 50-years-old.
I, am grateful, however, that even with the passage and the grind of almost half a century abroad, that I was able to muster almost as much energy and enthusiasm now in the waning moments of May 25, 2016 to celebrate the historic flag raising albeit in keeping with the sign of the times on a large screen plasma TV at a barbecue a stone’s throw away from the official venue.
One got a sense of the importance and the excitement of the event on the eve of the iconic date around the city newly purged of the grime and much of the crime as traffic was snarled everywhere; for pedestrians the narrow sidewalks were jammed with hucksters plying some kitschy wares and national flag bedecked stores with souvenir merchandise and other fare spilling through the doors.
Meanwhile `Bam Bam Alley’ was virtually impassable by vehicle or even bicycle as this little city block was teeming with mostly returnees and some locals sipping and chatting oblivious of traffic trying to get to the other side of town.
And then there was busy Bourda Market nearby just hours before the big day taking on a whole new dynamic and perhaps at that time even more importance than its big sister Stabroek as hundreds of prospective revelers not seeking fish or meat or provisions or fruit, descended on a little cramped stall on the northwestern side of this aging historic venue now sorely in need of a make-over, to get their T shirts and caps printed with the jubilee logo and other popular designs no doubt for the grand float parade and parties around town and its environs.
Sweating in what must have been 90 degrees heat, last minute patrons, with their merchandise in tow, seeking the attention of the handful of attendants behind the counter, were literally climbing over each other. Since I needed my unique design for the front and back of my plain T shirts though not necessarily for the next day, like a seasoned New Yorker, I worked my way politely if forcefully to the front of the crowd, handed over the shirts to a pleasant young lady, paid, and was told to simply e-mail the design and placement instructions to the store. Out of that chaos and admittedly with a measure of skepticism, two days later I emerged with well-done professionally printed T shirts that would have matched or even exceeded anything done anywhere in New York.
But that notwithstanding, my T-shirt fix is still not satiated and will not be until I am able to secure an official Amazon Warriors T-shirt or cricket shirt which I have craved for some time now. As I viewed the colorful Jubilee float parade on Brickdam last Thursday before the rains came, the Amazon Warriors float with its theme ‘The Energy of Independence’ appeared to be the largest contingent, resplendent in an explosion of dominant yellow and gold and lime green with the distinctive warrior logo on T-shirts and floppy sun hats. Recording the float as it went by jamming to its catchy theme song, one could not help but feel the energy of the sport which indeed has forged a prominent role in the development of this society.
And so, with such ebullience in the street and with all things Amazon in the effusive air of Independence and celebration with the Tri-nation tournament just days away – a part of the package, I enquired of one of the revelers in the band – where is one able to purchase an official Amazon Warriors shirt, and was disappointed to learn from him that they were not for sale. Not satisfied with the flippant answer, in the days ahead I scoured the many outlets that I thought would have carried such items in the city as well as at the impressive Mall at Liliendaal, but came up empty. In fact, the sales professional at a sporting goods store at the Mall, informed me that they attempted to secure the rights to sell the official shirts but were unsuccessful.
Who is in charge of the management, publicity, public relations and merchandising in the Amazon Warriors operations one wonders?
And why isn’t there a more enterprising effort afoot to market this national cricket team which just copped a coveted regional cricket title?
One would have thought that particularly, at this time with the anticipation of so many thousands of Guyanese returning home for the Jubilee celebrations, that those in charge would have had the foresight to license the production of official Amazon Warriors shirts complete with the commemorative Jubilee logo for sale in outlets throughout Guyana and especially in the city and suburbs.
Needless to say such a merchandising effort would not only have generated significant revenue and publicity for the national team but also for the local economy. And with the Hero Caribbean Premier League due to kick-off on June 30, such a promotion would have been most ideal.