Emancipation Day 2022 activities were memorable, excellent

Hundreds of Guyanese from all walks of life flocked to the National Park on Monday to witness the celebrations of Emancipation Day 2022, hosted by the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA), after a two-year hiatus due to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, along with its cultural performances by various African heritage groups, included a mini-exhibition where educational institutions, artists, sculptors, and fashion designers were able to showcase their talents through their products.

DPI spoke to several participants, visitors, and exhibitors to hear their thoughts on this exciting activity which was paused for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some said the activities were memorable while others said they were excellent displays of culture and folklore

It’s been such a joy being here, I’ve been here for a little more than an hour and I’m seeing so much culture come alive, it’s just amazing,” poet Carlene Gill-Kerr posited.

Kerr went on to say that the festivities gave people the opportunity to bask in their heritage and be proud of who they really are.

“This is one of the things that kind of like died out and faded away. As the kids come up, it’s important for them to be able to connect with their culture and remember all these little things that make them Guyanese…it’s a good thing for them to come out and, you know, not feel uncomfortable about dressing in their African wear,” Gill-Kerr opined.

Carlene Gill-Kerr

New Amsterdam Resident, Samuel Singh expressed the belief that the celebration of Emancipation plays a critical role in the achievement of President Dr. Irfaan Ali’s vision to create a “One Guyana”.

“The idea of coming to celebrate Emancipation is that it helps and it embodies every single one of us…we need to continue to celebrate emancipation because we show the togetherness and love for each other…The plea for this One Guyana is what is going to unify all the races because at the ending of the day we all have to live as one,” he explained.

Decked out in his Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham and Cheddi Jagan T-Shirt as a symbol of unity and togetherness, visitor Shawn English said that his attendance at the Emancipation Day Celebrations at the National Park was indeed nostalgic.

“Coming to the National Park [on Emancipation Day] is a part of my culture that I have been doing since I was a child…I remember all the sweet times we have had out here, all the different stage shows [and] all the artistes that came…I came here just to see our people smile, and now that I’ve seen them smile, I am super happy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Principal of ACDA’s Centre of Learning and Afro-Centric Orientation (COLAACO), Lincoln Robinson highlighted that the celebration of Emancipation is important because it reminds Afro-Guyanese of who they are and where they come from.

“You see if we fail to celebrate our culture, we will lose our identity and we won’t know who we are. So, it’s important for us to come out and to learn about our culture, learn who we are, where we came from, [and] what is in us. When we learn these things, we will have a better appreciation for ourselves as individuals, and more so an appreciation for what our ancestors have done for us,” Robinson detailed.

The principal also said that his school will continue to educate the youth about their ancestry and cultural heritage.

Another exhibitor, Jackie Hanover, who is better known as Jackie Jaxx, said that the event gave businesswomen like her the opportunity to meet and network with others after a two-year hiatus.

“This is an opportunity for us to communicate with each other in person, to network again, to shake hands, to smile with each other in person…so I really appreciate events like this to make that possible,” she noted.

On August 1, 1838, slaves were finally set free in the former British colony now the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. Since then, Afro-Guyanese have thrived significantly in various endeavours. Celebrations like these are held to commemorate same.