Celebrating our First People- Guyana Folk Festival 2017 gets underway in NY
DPI, Guyana, Saturday, September 2, 2017
The Guyana Cultural Association (GCA) of New York Incorporation, which has been hosting the Guyana folk festival for 16 years, has chosen as this year’s theme “Celebrating our Indigenous Heritage.”
The event which kicked off on August 30 will run for five days and is an exploration and celebration of Guyana’s rich multi-ethnic culture. The activities include an Award Ceremony, a Symposium and Literacy hang, the Dr. Desrey Fox- Caesar Memorial Lecture, a Kwe Kwe night and a Family fun day on Sunday, September 03 to conclude the fest.
Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs Sydney Allicock was one of several recipients at the award ceremony hosted by the GCA at the Borough Hall, Brooklyn, NY on Wednesday. He received the Cacique Crown of Honour from the Brooklyn Borough and was presented the award by Eric Adams, president of the Borough. Minister Allicock remarked, “It was quite surprising, I think media plays a great role in this and I am very thankful.” Clive Powell, choreographer of Classique Dance Company was also among the recipients awarded by the GCA.
One of the highlights of the fest was the inaugural Dr. Desrey Casear-Fox memorial lecture. The seminar held on Thursday, focused on the on the life of Dr. Fox, the Amerindian Language’s project and discussed the structure of the Akawaio/Arecuna languages; phonological, grammatical, economic activities and the roots of the languages. Among those who attended were Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Sydney Allicock, President of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Dr. Vibert Cambridge, Linguistics Professor, Wayne State University, Dr. Walter Edwards, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Dr. Ivelaw Griffith, and several lecturers from the University of Guyana. A cultural performance by the Karo Cultural Group – an eleven member tri-lingual indigenous troupe, who speak Wapishiana, Portuguese and English, captivated the audience.
Dr. Vibert Cambridge, President of GCA explained that the Indigenous culture was chosen as the theme of this year’s festival, as part of their drive to bridge gaps in society by understating the value of one’s culture.
According to Dr. Cambridge, “Guyana’s first people have been here some 13,000 years… Our indigenous have seen
slavery, indentureship, independence and the aspiration of independence that is foundational.” Hence the festival aims to “bring together the strands of knowledge,” of the Indigenous people, through the expression of dance, music, arts, beliefs and cuisine.
Minister Sydney Allicock commended the GCA for “Keeping Guyana’s rich culture alive, and in the loop.” He explained that this festival is integral in helping to unite Guyanese worldwide. “We are at a time in the history of Guyana where there is so much to be expected with the discovery of oil but more than that it is the unifying of the nation…this activity I think will help us to get there,” while pointing out that this festival will be reaching persons at a community level, which is just the start, “the linkage that could happen here, is through the communities first of all then the regions…is the beginning of uniting Guyana”.
The Minister noted that ‘it’s outstanding’ to see persons who are from all races and walks of life embrace the festival and willing to learn about the Indigenous roots. “We all need to be able to see that bigger value of where the Indigenous peoples have a role to play in National Development and there could be no better time than now.”
The festival continues with a Kwe Kwe tonight and a Symposium and Literary Hang on Saturday and ends with a family fun day on Sunday.