Buxtonians turned out in their numbers yesterday to support the launch of the Buxton/Friendship Museum, Archive and Culture Centre, which is an initiative of overseas-based Buxtonian Keith Easton and his organization, Friends of Villages, Museums and Archives (FVMA).
Easton, who has for decades worked in the financial sector, has over the last 10 years been striving to open the centre, which he hopes will encourage cultural awareness and transformative partnerships or opportunities for consultations in the promotion and preservation of the rich, diverse history, traditional stories and practices that cut across ethnic boundaries in the two East Coast villages.
The vision of FVMA is for the centre, which is being operated from a property owned by Easton’s family, to share with and be involved in the communities, thereby becoming a catalyst for the social and economic transformation of the people, while also being an institution of cultural entertainment, education, economic activities and leadership training. It also aims to create a space for safeguarding history and reflecting on the life of individuals associated with the two communities, so that the full racial and cultural diversity can be appreciated locally and internationally.
“Over the years, the villages have had some setbacks so let’s use the centre to identify us with something positive,” Easton said at the opening yesterday, while adding that with both a full-time staff and volunteers, the centre can act as a liaison for overseas organisations if needed to co-ordinate programmes and events.
He further noted that the initiative cannot survive without support, financial and otherwise, and members of the public were invited to submit art, artifacts and memorabilia, books, speeches, articles, manuscripts, audio/visual items, slides, correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, documents, plays, historical photographs and negatives, inventions, patents or any other information or materials relating to the villages, people, history and culture or in some cases Guyana in general.
The initiative was welcomed by Deon Abrams, the Chairman of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council, who represents the constituency in which the centre is located.
According to Abrams, in implementing the initiative, Easton is following in the tradition of ancestors who started the village movement.
He noted that in crafting the two villages, these ancestors took time to appropriate land for communal purposes, such as schools and churches. The chairman urged villagers to protect the space as it is not uncommon to hear of schools and churches being raided and looted. Such a situation must be avoided at all cost, he stressed.
Speaking on behalf of President David Granger, Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources Simona Broomes congratulated the team that worked with Easton, while noting that it is important that history is protected.
She said that with infrastructural changes, some aspects of culture are lost but the centre can work to remind the newer generations.
Broomes noted that Indigenous Peoples are encouraged to preserve aspects of their culture and added that similar encouragement should be extended to those of African heritage. “Our history and our culture came at a great price and cost. Your fore parents, our fore parents, paid a price and fought to educate their children and own things, so we must do the same. They left a legacy which must be protected,” she said.