Did you know …
―How ‘Mashramani’ became the right name for Guyana’s national event
DPI, Guyana, Friday, January 3, 2020
With Guyana observing the 50th anniversary of its republican status this year, the backstory to the celebration that marks this occasion – Mashramani – is an interesting one
This journey was revealed by the late Jimmy Hamilton, Chairman of Jaycees Republic Celebration Committee, in an interview with DPI in 2017. Hamilton passed away last year.
According to Hamilton, the Jaycees in Linden had hosted a carnival event, every year since Guyana gained independence in 1966; however, in 1970 when the country became a republic, the organisation began planning an event to mark the occasion.
A name change for the activity was deemed necessary, and the search for an appropriate title began. Hamilton recalled that in the excitement to find a name, organisers even went to the National Library and the National Archives.
Several persons were sought for their input and among them was Alan Fiedtkou, an Indigenous Guyanese employed at the geological department of the bauxite company. Fiedtkou spoke to a relative who said the intended event sounded similar to “Mashirimeh” an Indigenous festival where they gathered to celebrate for days during a wedding or after the end of hard labour.
Hamilton related that this was “exactly what the committee was looking for” since it was a patriotic name that removed ties to the country’s colonial past. “When we took it back to our executive committee, we said, this is the story; this is the celebration after a complete cooperative effort because it involves the effort of everyone within these communities and we are the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”
Before the final confirmation, the idea was taken to Adrian Thompson, a District Commissioner, who gave the stamp of approval.
The first-ever Mashramani celebration in 1970 drew hundreds of revellers to Linden from all regions across Guyana, and the event ran for three days.
Following its success approval was given by then President Forbes Burnham for the event to be held in Georgetown annually to observe Guyana’s status as a republic.