…as organisers beckon dawn of golden jubilee celebrations
By Nicholas Peters
Coming alive with architecture, culture and cuisine is the Sophia Exhibition Centre just in time for Indigenous Heritage Month, which officially begins tomorrow. The festivities for September are pushing to be recognised as the “dawn of Independence” celebrations next year.
When Kaieteur News visited the Sophia Indigenous Village yesterday, preparations were fast underway as contractors were putting the final touches on the renovated area. Performers for the month’s cultural shows were also rehearsing their presentations, which will be showcased at tomorrow evening’s opening ceremony.
The heritage buildings were originally constructed in 2008 for the 10th Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta), contractors from the village of Moraikobai.
The village was given the name “Wamlan Paiku Lanau Pona” which is a Patamona term for “Whirl Wind Village”, after a serious squall disrupted the zinc roofing of buildings at the Centre, except the structures that were built with traditional Indigenous methods.
“The buildings that had leaf roofing and didn’t have any nails were largely intact,” recalled Logistics Officer for the Amerindian Development Fund, Ovid Williams. The official also explained that the cultural village will be going through some renovations as the country begins to embark on the “dawn” for Guyana’s golden jubilee next year.
Moreover, Williams explained that each structure in at the Indigenous heritage section was constructed in keeping with the traditional building methods of Guyana’s nine Indigenous tribes respectively: Arawak, Arecuna, Akawaio, Carib, Macushi, Wai Wai and Wapishiana and Warrau. He explained that the Totem pole at the entrance of the village was constructed by members of the Arawak Village of St. Cuthbert’s.
The official explained that the main gathering building at the Indigenous village was constructed using dalibana leaves, sugar wood and baroda trees among other traditional architectural materials. The village will also have an Indigenous themed beverage bar along with an eating house structure.
Recently, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, had announced that the heritage village will be opened year round for the public to provide a leisurely alternative much in the same likeness as the National Park.
According to Williams, the village will be opened on a weekly basis and will incorporate cultural demonstrations that will touch on cuisine preparations. These demonstrations will be held for schools, tourists and raising cultural awareness with locals.
“All the buildings are ready for (Indigenous) Heritage month,” said the official, when asked the state of preparedness of the exhibit settlement. For the initial days of the month, the village is set to host a plethora of cultural events and performances.
While the structures are complete, William shared that rehearsals are ongoing, with some performers still making their way to the capital from far flung regions.
Kaieteur News got the chance to sit through one of the rehearsal sessions and have a preview of what’s to come for the opening ceremony. From what was observed, the opening will showcase the distinctive spiritual and linguistic traditions of the country’s first settlers, through spoken word theatrical pieces.
Speaking to an artistic coordinator for the performances, it was related that this year’s performers are looking to elevate their presentations to a more dynamic level, as they showcase a cultural truthfulness of the country’s Indigenous Peoples.
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