The stalwart contributions of a great man recognized and given the prominence it deserves prompts the writing of this letter as I reminisce on the life and times of the late Burnell ‘Acku’ Thomas M.S.
My first foray into politics was a combination of many encouraging words from persons I hold deep respect for, not the least of which came from Acku.
It was the assurance of support from him that largely led me to accept the nomination to become Chairman of Region 10, as I was then a novice in this respect and Acku generously offered his wealth of knowledge and experience to me. Indeed, after assuming office he launched himself whole-heartedly into engaging and representing the people of Region 10, and especially the residents of sub-region 2 (Berbice River) the very area he was returning from after a series of consultative meetings with residents when he met his demise in a vehicular accident along the Linden to Kwakwani road on October 18th, 2001.
However, though his contributions in politics were great, his accomplishments in building Guyanese culture surpass many in this arena. The founder of the Palm Tree Culture Group, Acku always ‘came to life’ on the performance stage, bringing a unique energy and vibe through celebrating African culture in drumming and dance especially.
He is most certainly remembered for his famous fire dances, a tradition that is thankfully carried on by his son Sean Thomas. But it was not just African culture, but culture in general that consumed Acku, and he demonstrated this through the introduction of the ‘No Big Ting’ concerts that became synonymous with Christmas time celebrations in Linden and provided the proverbial barrel of laughs through political satire and social commentary delivered humorously to an adoring Linden audience.
With the conferring of the Medal of Service on him posthumously, I am tremendously pleased to be afforded this opportunity to again publicly salute the invaluable contributions of this great son of Guyana’s soil, Burnell Lancelot Thomas M.S., and extend to his family my sincere thanks for having shared Acku with us. May his soul rest in peace.
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