Despite bad weather thousands celebrate Emancipation Day in N/A
By Samuel Whyte
Freedom Day is special to many Guyanese and even the inclement weather can stop the related celebrations. That was depicted in Berbice on Monday (Emancipation Day) when thousands turned out, despite the torrential rain that fell and flooded the Esplanade Park in New Amsterdam – the original venue for the festivities in East Berbice.
The organizers quickly changed gear and switched to Matthew Allen Road near the New Amsterdam stelling where even with a late start and a few hiccups the activity went on although on a reduced scale.
Guyanese from all walks of life, in a sea of colours, converged on the substitute venue.
With this year being dubbed the International Year for People of African Descent (IYPAD) by the United Nations, a mega event was planned by the organizers of the
East Berbice activities – the Region 6 Sub Committee for the IYPAD. However the rain put paid to those aspirations.
The day’s activity got underway at approximately 15:15 hrs with a parade from Marks Bridge at Philadelphia Road through the streets of New Amsterdam lead by Majorettes and African dancers from the many groups throughout East Berbice. The contingent made up of mostly young people, numbering over 160, was accompanied by a variety of African Drums and recorded music, and made their way to Matthew Allen Road, where the huge crowd gathered, many dressed in flamboyant African wear.
Despite the absence of a stage due to the last-minute change in venue, a number of cultural items were performed for those in attendance by among others the Congo Naya group, The Republic Drama Group, Lutheran Church women’s group, on the roadway. There was drumming by a number of groups including the Salvation Army, The Rose Hall Town group, Kildonan Cultural group, the Jessamy group out of Fyrish, and the East Canje and Sandvort African Groups, among others.
A number of booths and stalls were quickly erected and displayed a wide array of African Foods, Fashion, and Art and Craft. Cook up, ‘shine rice’ and fry fish, Met-em-gee, Conkey, Foo foo, Co co , Sugar cake, Rice Cake and other delicacies were on sale. Mauby and Ginger beer were also in abundant supply. A few face paintings, hair stylings and head wrappings were also done. Although the fashion display was not held, a number of African prints were still showed off to those present.
The recognition, by way of award, of prominent African figures in Berbice who have made significant contributions was deferred due to time constraints. The new date was not announced. Most of the groups will be continuing their activities, with a number of celebrations slated for the rest of the month. “Emancipation celebration 2011”, came off successfully despite the inclement weather, and although it was held on a smaller scale it thoroughly depicted this year’s theme “Festival of African Freedom and Unity”.
A fashion show featuring over 12 young ladies will be held at the end of the month.