The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport yesterday lashed out at several African Organisations in Guyana which claimed that they were not included in planning with the government to create a programme for the observance of the “International Year for People of African Descent”.
The group, which issued a press release through the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA), is also calling for the official launch date, scheduled for January 16, 2011, to be further postponed.
The ministry in a release expressed its surprise at these developments.
“It is astounding that the group which met on Saturday would convey the impression that the government, through the Ministry of Culture, either sought to exclude legitimate Afro Guyanese representative organisations from its planning, or somehow deliberately did not consult enough with the widest possible spectrum of such organizations…The Ministry, in its amazement, is left to speculate as to the real reasons behind the groups’ conclusions and about who influenced such responses.
The United Nations, by virtue of UN Resolution N Res 64/169, proclaimed 2011 to be the “International Year for People of African Descent”.
The year seeks to strengthen national actions and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of people of African descent, in relation to their full enjoyment, participation and integration of economic, cultural, social, civil and political aspects of society.
According to the Culture Ministry, in preparation for the commemoration of the year, the onus was left upon governments, to produce a national proposal of action to be engaged in during the period.
“This obligation and responsibility fall to the Government of Guyana, the country being a Member State of the United Nations.”
“The UN also encouraged Member States, specialized agencies of the United Nations system within their respective mandates and existing resources, and civil society to make preparations for and identify possible initiatives that can contribute to the success of the Year… Requests the Secretary General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session, a report containing a draft programme of activities for the year, taking into account the views and recommendations of Member States, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent of the Human Rights Council and other relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, as appropriate”.
According to the Ministry, it has a database of numerous African-oriented organisations which have declared their interest and objectives in promoting the history, culture, welfare and development of the Afro-Guyanese community.
They were identified originally to assist the Ministry with the annual Emancipation observance. These groups also proclaim, as a purpose, the recording of Afro-Guyanese contributions to Guyana’s national development.
The Ministry stated that at its very first meeting convened by the Ministry on June 18, 2010, it was stated that “the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport is prepared to work in collaboration with cultural groups to create a structured, organised committee”.
There were 18 persons at that initial meeting, according to the ministry, and included members of the Ministry as well as the Museum of African Heritage, East Canje Group, ACDA, ACEA, Concerned Citizens, NCN, a Linden Group and the Commemoration Committee, among others. The Ministry noted that several meetings and rigid consultations followed.
It pointed out that at the very next major session held on July 1 2010 at the Carifesta Complex – “about one hundred and four (104) persons met under the Chairmanship of Colonel Lindon V Ross to establish a National Commemoration Committee to spearhead the year-long activities”.
On that occasion the ministry stated, it was reiterated that “the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and the Museum of African Heritage are prepared to work along, not only with registered African Cultural Groups, but also with any interested individuals, in the achievement of the successful commemoration of “International Year for People of African Descent”.
The Ministry noted that at that time the groups known were those already identified and recorded.
The Ministry said that in July 2010, a “Preliminary Central Committee Proposal of Activities and Events for the International Year for People of African Descent was produced based on the numerous suggestions and plans put forward by the various individuals, groups and organisations”.
Later in the year, after weeks of work by the University of Guyana’s Dr Michael Scott, a consequent programme was refined and circulated to all stakeholders who participated and still participate in the Central Committee’s deliberations.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony announced in the National Assembly recently, an outline of some of the national activities and projects planned. He again invited all sides of the House to submit ideas as the Calendar of Events announced was not closed or exclusive.
“It is against that background of inclusion and collective planning that the year-long programme is taking shape…The Ministry is therefore extremely perplexed at the position now reportedly being taken by certain groups,” the ministry said.
The Ministry also stated that earlier postponements of the launch date had to do in part, with the unavailability of local United Nations representatives whose presence at such a launch would be contributory to the event’s international status and credibility.
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