COFONA, RAPAC to build African Cultural Centre in Berbice
By Leon Suseran
With Emancipation observances ongoing and this being the commemorative year of the 250th Anniversary of the Berbice Slave Rebellion, the Council of Friends of New Amsterdam (COFONA) and the Revival, Awareness and Perpetuation of African Culture (RAPAC) have announced a partnership to establish an African Cultural Centre in the town of New Amsterdam.
The project will see the construction of a modern cultural centre which, according to President of COFONA, Dr. Leonard Lewis, is badly needed in the town.
A site, he stated, was made available a few years ago at Philadelphia Street.
“The empty plot that is there has been given to RAPAC by Former Mayor Errol Alphonso and over the years, they have been trying to make use of it, but we are taking this opportunity to make it a venture that the entire society and town should participate in because it will be a cultural centre that all the residents of the town will be able to make use of.”
Dr Lewis stressed that collaboration with RAPAC is strong.
“We want to help RAPAC with the space that they have been assigned.”
At the end of the two weeks of activities, work will begin on the multi-purpose facility.
“We will be working with them to push that venture and we would like to see that it is done in the town— it is needed. New Amsterdam does not have a cultural centre, and it is about time we have one, and so we would like folks to understand that it is not just RAPAC’s venture, but a venture for the whole of the town.”
COFONA’s activities commenced in earnest yesterday with a grand Emancipation Day celebration across the Berbice area, with involvement of a number of groups. The celebrations will run on until August 12.
Apart from well-known overseas-based Guyanese, Dr. Lewis said that there will be visitors and participants from Suriname “who have a close link to the Berbice Slave Rebellion.”
He said that the folks over there have made use of their heritage sites where the slave revolts occurred “and they have developed tourism activities around the sites…and that is one of the things we are hoping to do as well.”
Another topic of major interest in the Caribbean, he said, is reparation. Dr. Lewis said that Caricom has now passed a Bill which investigates the question of whether African people should receive compensation for the fact that their ancestors were enslaved.
Dr. Lewis also noted that the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport, one of the sponsors of the 2013 Commemoration Programme, will be setting up exhibitions at the N/A Multilateral School in the coming days. Eleven units of the Ministry will be participating in this event so that folks can visit and examine artifacts. This is the first of its kind, he stated. The exhibits will be coming from Georgetown. The history of the town, he added, will also be portrayed in an interactive timeline at the N/A Town Hall.
Also slated for next week are a Day of Community Service and a Family Fun Day.