The Parrot loves the festivities surrounding Mashramani here and Carnival in Rio and Trinidad & Tobago. It’s party fuh so! And why not?
Keeping to the true meaning of Mashramani, a good dose of fun and frolic is not only expected, but advisable after a period of hard work. In our homes we celebrate for various reasons. In places of employment, parties to mark the festive season towards the end of the year, companies’ anniversaries and special achievements during a particular year, are all observed with pomp, vigour and, to some extent, colour.
What is integral to the success of these events is the participation of family members and workers respectively. Those who choose not to participate can be deemed as being anti-social amongst other reasons.
Around this time of year the mood tends to reflect the celebration of our Republican status. Many activities and related competitions are designed and held over a few weeks preceding Republic Day; the day when all involved, including major companies, converge on the streets of Georgetown for the annual parade.
The glamour, the glitter, the revelry, the colours, the creativity in floats and costume, the music, the family and everything else related, come together seamlessly to create the identity that is so unique to Mashramani. The patriotism that exudes on that day is basically unmatched for local events. Guyanese from all strata of society become involved in friendly competition to exhibit their nationalism as evident in their display of national colours and the Golden Arrowhead.
Mashramani competitions including Soca, Calypso and Chutney Monarchs, Children’s Costume and Dance and the Float Parade, attract large crowds. This year is no different. As a matter of fact, the overwhelming response to the Children’s Competition at the Sports Hall a few days ago resulted in some undesirable practices by a few students who attended.
Obviously the Hall’s capacity was surpassed due to what is being described as an unprecedented turnout for such a competition. This reflects the interest that this and other competitions have generated. More so, it is encouraging to see such response by children to Mashramani activities. This response which was evident for some years now has gathered momentum with time.
The momentum seems to be under some threat by four companies which, by their actions, have given the impression that their sense of patriotism is not firmly rooted and can be lost very easily. I say this in the context of what was reported pertaining to the reputable companies which refuse to participate in the float parade. It would be remiss of me if I did not reflect on what transpired during the period when Forbes was in office.
During that time Guyanese, especially the business community, were not only called upon to show their patriotism, but were forced to. It was mandatory for Public Servants to participate in all national parades. Those who dared to oppose such undemocratic impositions were made to face consequences pertaining to their jobs.In other words, they had no choice; they had to “march” and “tramp”, or else!
Those days are gone. No longer are companies, government entities and individuals commanded to participate in national events. This command ceased with the democratic elections held in 1992. As such, while the companies, referred to in the media, which opted not to participate in the parade are free to do so, the questioning of their sense of patriotism cannot be avoided.
Whilst the companies have contributed financially in some small way to some aspects of some competitions, they are not oblivious of the interest, excitement and entertainment they provide as a result of their participation in the Costume and Float Parade. Thousands from early on Mash Day vie for vantage points along the route to witness the rivalry in splendour and creativity. Their participation enhances the mood surrounding Mashramani.
The rivalry in 2007 between DGsell and the Blue Power People generated much anticipation among Guyanese prior to Mash Day. The large colourful contingents of both entities did not disappoint. Even the point in time as to when they should present themselves to the crowds was competitive; DGsell passed late in the evening with their dragon spitting fire. The crowds waited. Similarly, rivalry between the beverage companies is healthy with extremely creative floats.
Who can forget the replica of Banks’ rotunda? Last year Guyana was plunged into mourning following the two barbaric massacres in Lusignan and Bartica. The mood, understandably so, was not there. The expectation was that the revelry and rivalry in 2009 would compensate for what was missing in 2008. Unfortunately, four big companies have decided not to participate in the parade.
This poignant decision of the companies will only serve to dampen the expectation and excitement of the thousands who will line the Mash route. While economic prudence has been the focus following the global financial crisis, information suggests that the decision taken is not necessarily related.
The beverage company which opted out and whose operation is based in the twin island republic is reportedly taking a fairly large contingent of staff to participate and enjoy carnival there! I am sure that the cost of such a trip may be equivalent to that of participation in the float parade here. Word is out that one of the companies reneged on its commitment to participate.
Information is that the said company agreed to a concept last year and recently informed the designer contracted to uplift an advance payment! The designer, on proceeding to collect the agreed payment, was totally shocked when told that the company would no longer fulfill its commitment.
This same company is currently promoting a pre-Mash event featuring a popular Caribbean artiste! The cost of such a concert is similar or even higher for what is needed for their participation in the Mash day parade.
I cite these two cases to show that the global financial crisis for non-participation in the parade is a red herring. What about their sense of nationalism in our Republic celebrations? Is it that a price can easily be placed on such an auspicious event?
The two overseas-based companies inundate the media landscape with advertisements to entice Guyanese to use their products. These companies would be incensed should Guyanese remain patriotic and support indigenous entities. However, Guyanese are accommodative people and would not venture in such a direction to “mash” their markets as they seem inclined to “mash” Mash for their countries’ celebrations.
Insularity? You judge. Where is their sense of commitment to the masses they pander to? What I know is that regardless of who is in, me, the general rank and Frank will mash down town “til’ fore day maning come”. Look out for me in my many colours. Squawk! Squawk!
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