By Ravin Singh in New York
Brooklyn came alive on Sunday as New York-based Guyanese turned out in their thousands to celebrate the 52nd Independence Anniversary of their motherland at the Brooklyn Museum.
The commemorative event is an annual one which provides Guyanese in the diaspora with an opportunity to celebrate this country’s historical accomplishment, and for foreigners to revel in the experience. This year, it was held under the theme: “Celebrate Guyana to the World”.
The day’s proceedings kicked-off with a parade which started at Church and Albany Avenues and ended at Preston Court, Ralph Avenue.
Attired in their Army Service Uniform, five Guyana Defense Force (GDF) officers led the parade through the busy streets of Brooklyn, with two carrying the most iconic symbol of nationhood – the Golden Arrowhead.
Sandwiched between the GDF officers and the large contingent were several officials including Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams; Guyana’s Consul General in the New York Barbara Atherly; Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Green; and Mayor of Bartica Gifford Marshall.
Williams said the celebrations were a reminder that Guyanese overseas were still as connected to Guyana as when they lived there. He added too that while Guyana has not been able to achieve the aspirations it had 52 years ago, the country is on its way to achieving them.
Atherly said the celebrations represent a shared sense of pride and love for Guyana by those who now live beyond its shores. She noted that: “We are one people with one destiny and today we are showcasing that to the world today.”
This was evident as the overcast conditions did little to dissuade Guyanese from showing up in their numbers. The flag was raised in the compound of the Brooklyn Museum by the GDF officers, shortly after the singing of the national anthems of both Guyana and the U.S.
It was a sight which evidently brought out the nationalistic pride in many of the attendees who were already garbed in traditional and cultural wear reflecting the colours of the flag.
Sharon Rogers, who moved to the U.S. more than 15 years ago, shared with News Room that this event is the closest she gets to feeling at home.
“America is where I live right but Guyana will always be my home and so I look forward to this event every year because I get to see people I know and I feel as if I am home again,” she said. Guyana has the fifth largest immigrant population in New York with more than 145,000 Guyanese residing here.
One of the highlights of the event was the unity concert which saw the likes of Adrian Dutchin, Eddie Neblett, Blaze Antonio, Saiku, Terry Gajraj, and Jamaica’s Dexta Dapps along with several other regional artistes.
Responding to concerns about non-Guyanese performing at the event, the organisers reasoned that a national celebration does not translate to the exclusion of regional performers. They noted that Caribbean countries have a shared historical and cultural experience and it is for that reason, we are closely knitted.
Complementing the performing arts aspect of the event was the sale of traditional Guyanese dishes including Cook-up rice, roti and curry, puri and fish-cake, souse, and other delicacies.