Historic shift of independence flag-raising to involve over 2,000 children

(From left, rear) Carl Stuart, GM, Caribbean Airlines; Saiku Andrews: Natural Black; Blaze Antonio; Department of Culture, Youth and Sport Music Development Officer  Andrew Tyndall. Front: Kevin Prashad, Airport representative, Caribbean Airlines; Director of Culture Tamika Boatswain; Senior Marketing Manager of Caribbean Airlines Alicia Cabrera; Minister of Social Cohesion Dr George Norton; Michelle ‘Big Red’ King and Kimberly Brasington, ExxonMobil representative.

More than 2,000 children will be involved in the staging of this year’s Independence flag raising celebrations, which, for the first time ever, have been shifted to the afternoon to accommodate the youth presence.

However, the evening of the eve of the Independence will see local artistes taking the stage at the Stabroek Market Square for an Independence Flag Concert, which will be followed by a fireworks display by the Guyana Defence Force.

Minister of Social Cohesion Dr George Norton related yesterday during a press briefing held at the boardroom of the Department of Social Cohesion that over 2,000 children from primary and secondary schools across the country will be involved in the cultural display aspect of the flag- raising ceremony. Additionally, more than 1,500 youths from various organisations, including the Scouts, Path Finders, the Cadet Corps and secondary students, accompanied by the military, will make up the parade.

The flag-raising ceremony will commence at 14:00hrs on May 25, at D’Urban Park, but guests are urged to be seated at least 15 minutes prior, to accommodate the arrival of the President.

Speaking on the fresh focus of this year’s independence celebration, Artistic Director of the programme Lloyda Garrett, stated that it was the President’s vision for as many youth to be involved in the ceremony.

“The President said, listen, we have a lot of adults that have participated in our anniversary celebrations every year; let’s get the children involved. Let’s get as many children as possible involved and honestly, if we could have, we would have 10,000 children involved,” Garrett said.

She noted that it is important that Guyanese “articulate” their culture, and stated that one of the key elements of this year’s programme will be the celebration of the country’s natural patrimony.

“In addition, he wanted us to celebrate who we are as a people and I think that’s important because I think as we grow as a nation…it’s important that all of us, all of us, through whatever artistic outlet we’re good at, that we become better at articulating what it means to be Guyanese. We live our culture every day but it’s up to us now to articulate that culture more clearly and more consistently, and so I am proud of all the artistes who are starting to do that. The quality of their work is growing and that’s brilliant. And that is something that we have to pass on to our younger people and that’s where our youth come in,” Garrett stated.

Friday’s flag-raising programme will be succeeded by an Independence Flag Concert, which will be held at the Stabroek Market Square. That event will begin at 10 pm.

Present at yesterday’s press briefing were some of the artistes who will be taking the stage, namely Michelle ‘Big Red’ King, Mortimer Softley, commonly known as ‘Natural Black’, Blaze Antonio and gospel artiste Saiku Andrews. Other artistes expected to take the stage are Jomo Primo, Vanilla, Kwasi Ace Edmonson and Bunty Singh.

Director of Youth, Tamika Boatswain stated that the concert will provide an opportunity for Guyanese to celebrate more of their own and purchase more Guyanese music.

“I trust that the artistes themselves would appreciate what we’re doing and they would understand the value behind it because many people don’t understand what it means to be Guyanese. When we sing about arrowhead, when we sing about our coat of arms, when we sing about the country as a whole; people don’t understand, but music has a way of sending messages, powerful messages, if we pay attention to them and if we celebrate them in the right way,” Boatswain said.

The artistes present thanked the ministry for the initiative, and expressed the long-coming need for such support from the government.

“…every time we go somewhere and perform we represent Guyana, we put Guyana in another place, and so we need that support from you. If you don’t have that support we can only do so much. So I am thankful and I hope that this gets even bigger and you continue to support us on our journey because it’s not just our journey, its Guyana’s journey,” King stated.



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