Celebration of birth of capital city is an idea whose time has come

Dear Editor,

Legal historians will tell us that in the British Colony of then British Guiana, on the 21st August 1843 there was an etymological change from “Town” to “City”: Georgetown the Town became George-town the City. Our capital City George-town was, on that day, 175 years ago birthed. And so, on the 21st August 2018 our capital city will have grown to 175.

Through these 175 years of growth it has as of 6th October, 1980 constitutionally become the Capital City of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana; as of 28 April 1970 acquired a City Council by the name and style of “the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown” (previously known from 1860 as “The Mayor and Town Council of Georgetown”); and, geographically it has grown to an area that comprises the border of the Atlantic Ocean in the North to Plantation Rome in the South, Cummings Lodge in the East to the Demerara River in the West.

Fellow Guyanese Georgetown is not, and it will always be not just a city: it is our CAPITAL City. Every year as a country, and people, we, in the month of February commemorate and celebrate the birth of our Republic; three months later, in May, we commemorate and celebrate the birth of our Independence. That is right. That is glorious. But it must be equally right that the commemoration and celebration of the birth of this our capital city is an idea whose time has come. And so, for us at  the Council, beginning August 19th  the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown will be holding a week of commemorative and celebratory activities: Georgetown City Week.

Not unexpectedly, some of our friends are of the view that, we should not celebrate. For them, we should not in our state of financial indebtedness be commemorating and celebrating! How wrong can they be? So, let us not be dissuaded in the conviction of our righteousness. As I told the Council, at its statutory meeting on 23rd July; “not a single cent” of Council’s revenue will be used to finance Georgetown City Week. Nor, is it that it would have been inappropriate, or unjustified, or somehow contrary to law were City Week to have been financed with Council revenue (wholly or partly). And yet, City week’s expenditure is not purely some indulgence in philanthropic extravagance. Yes, we will have our free sports, cultural and other forms of social entertainment. Also, an opportunity for the business community to showcase local products.

But also in this City week, Her Worship, the Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green will host a special ticket dinner and a cocktail, at which events a restoration fund for the aged and much disrepaired City Hall  building (built between 1887-89) will be launched. For us, at the Council, it is difficult to conceive of a cause more noble and deserving than the restoration of this iconic architectural masterpiece.

History will judge us harshly if we allow this building of such historic vintage to remain in its state of exacerbating disrepair. Historians tell us that City Hall is an interpretation in wood of the masonry construction “fancy dress” style Gothic Revival Architecture prevalent during the Victorian era in Great Britain. Surely, it must be a national trust building of “historic interest or national importance” under the National Trust Act, Chapter 20:03. And so, even if City Week serves only to bring into sharp focus and national attention and action and response to City Hall’s much needed restoration the result will be all beneficial.

Still, there is more to the argument, on our side, in favour of City Week. We remind ourselves that it is Parliament itself which in, and by, the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01 has mandated the Council to promote and foster “Social Development”. Parliament did so in these clarion words: “The City Council shall appoint and at all times maintain” a Social Development Standing Committee. We do not treat these words lightly as mere parliamentary rhetoric or pious aspirations. For us at the Council, they encapsulate the national importance accorded to matters of social development at the level of the Council. For us at Council (at any rate the overwhelming majority) it is axiomatic that the concept of social development embraces and envisages an event such as George-town City Week. I repeat: it is an idea whose time has come.

Finally, editor permit me to publicly recognize the shared conviction of our corporate and other business sponsors and friends in the righteousness of George-town City Week. To all those, who have already contributed (but seek no public acclamation or disclosure; nor any quid pro quo), and to those, who are intending to contribute, please accept our most sincere expression of unreserved gratitude. And by this letter let me publicly invite all Guyanese to join us in our activities during Georgetown City Week.

A glorious, inspired and blessed City Week.

Yours faithfully,

Royston King

Town Clerk

City of Georgetown

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