Those who arrived and their contributions to culture

(Stabroek News file photo)

Around this time in Guyana and the Caribbean, the arrival of peoples of different ethnic and cultural origins is commemorated. Of interest, is that by far the dominant medium through which these observances are expressed is the arts – mainly the performing arts and means of cultural expression, even though there are historical accounts and political statements.

In Guyana, yesterday, May 5, was a public holiday – Arrival Day. Among the dominant events was the large annual Indian Arrival Day programme at the Monument Gardens in Georgetown, at which there were the usual treasures of Indian dance and music among an atmosphere of cultural expression. There is also still in progress the annual full theatrical production of Nrityageet 39, a stage performance of dance, music, and dramatic pieces produced by the Nadira and Indira Shah Dance Troupe. It closes tonight at the National Cultural Centre.

Quite noticeable too, was the observance of May 3 as Portuguese Arrival Day, recognising the presence of another group of people who arrived as indentured servants. Still, the East Indian Arrival anniversary activities are usually most visible and most vibrant on and around May 5.  This is so to the point where there are often reminders thrown out that the indentureship system brought several other groups to Guyana and the Caribbean, some of them arriving for the first time even before emancipation. Some arrived as early as 1806 in anticipation of the end of the slave trade in 1807…..

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