One week before the country’s 51st Republic Anniversary, Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jnr. has announced that the customary Mashramani celebrations will be deferred and done virtually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister made this statement at the weekend during an engagement in Region Five. On the evening of February 23, a virtual cultural presentation will be held, which will be broadcast live so that Guyanese can celebrate the occasion from the comfort of their homes.
The usual float and costume parade will not be held, with the minister commenting that “it’s too high a price to pay and it’s a logistical nightmare to even contemplate doing that.”
Ramson further noted that the Calypso, Chutney and Soca Monarch competitions will be held virtually in March. This approach follows the trend that has been occurring in the wider Caribbean and the Americas.
COVID-19 has resulted in prominent carnivals and parades being scaled back or all-out cancelled. Carnivals in Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago are being done virtually and in New Orleans, no Mardi Gras parade has resulted in thousands creating ‘house floats’ instead.
Last Year’s 50th Republic Jubilee’s calendar of events held under the theme “Guyana Together; Reflect, Celebrate and Transform” included a multitude of activities like film festivals, masquerade, art, literature, fashion and the extremely popular “Panorama” Steelpan competitions, usually sponsored by Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited.
When contacted, Michelle Johnson, Manager, Marketing and Communications, Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited, stated that the company and the ministry have a longstanding relationship and “we’re actually waiting to hear what are their plans concerning that this year; we’re in talks with them.
“Every year we would collaborate on how it will unfold, so we’ve already started those discussions but because of the difference in how they’re going to approach it this year, they have to look at all the logistics, so we’re waiting to hear from them.”
A theme has not been announced for this year’s celebrations which will be held against the backdrop of a global pandemic.
However, popular media and Entertainment Company, Hits and Jams announced via their Facebook page on Friday their virtual “Relive” events with support from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and major companies, Banks DIH Limited and Ansa Mcal Trading Limited. (Danielle Swain)