Utakwaaka, meaning Dawn of a New Day, in Patamona, is the name of CGX Energy’s New Exploration well on the company’s 100% held Corentyne Block. The company on Friday hosted an event which has definitely set the bar for local content, involvement and inclusion with the activities of the major companies operating in the Oil and Gas sector, at a new level.
Hosted in partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, the culture-packed evening held at the Umana Yana was centered on the naming and blessing of the company’s next exploration well by the Aleluya Indigenous Religion, 12 elders and members of which travelled from the Phillipai and Amokokopai villages and surrounding areas for the event. The company also celebrated its 20th Anniversary on Friday.
Professor Narine, the Executive Chairman of CGX Energy, whose idea it was to partner with the country’s Indigenous Peoples to name the well, delivered a stirring speech regarding the importance of ensuring that Guyanese identity, culture, religions and way of life are not subsumed by the juggernaut of commercial oil.
The Professor, a well-known advocate for Indigenous Peoples development, and himself an honorary Patamona, received glowing approbation for the initiative from all of the speakers of the evening, who included Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs Sydney Allicock, and Her Excellency, Ms. Lilian Chatterjee, High Commissioner of Canada to Guyana.
In his distinctly patriotic speech, Narine quoted the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.”
Narine went on to add “to my mind, and to the collective minds of the Board of Directors of CGX Energy, there can be no more valid pattern of interpretation, of understanding Guyana’s reality than through the values, philosophy, spiritual and cultural foundations of our First Peoples.
He further advocated, “…Let us resolve to use it (oil and gas) to enhance that which we hold valuable, rather than let it in itself define value to us.”
Bringing greetings from the Government of Guyana, Minister Greenidge noted that many Guyanese are proud of CGX for the work it has done in the country and its determination and resilience in exploration in the oil and gas industry.
“What we have achieved now … is in no small measure due to the persistence of CGX itself in working with Guyanese, its technicians, investors, to ensure that notwithstanding the disappointments … today we can celebrate.”
The Minister assured Professor Narine of his Government’s support for and collaboration with, CGX Energy, noting that the company has been the modern pioneer of the oil and gas industry in Guyana, with current discoveries owing a lot to the company’s efforts over the past 20 years.
The evening featured high-energy dances from the Surama Cultural Group, the Jewan ka Nritya Dance Group and the Happy Feet Dance Company, delivering Indigenous, Indian and African forms of the art, respectively. Reigning Indigenous Heritage Queen, Ms. Sherryanna Balkaran and her sister, Christine Balkaran, delivered a beautiful song in Patamona and English.
The evening’s focal event, the blessing and naming ceremony, saw the 12 elders and members of the Religion doing a series of invocations in songs and dance. The blessing was not without advice – the group warned CGX Energy that the success it has prayed for…requires the company to use the proceeds to ensure that it protects the environment and for good for all Guyana’s peoples.
The expressions of caution against greed and environmental destruction and the dire consequences, which would follow, was well received by the company’s Chairman and its top management, present for the occasion.
All the Government Ministers present, including also Ministers Khemraj Ramjattan and Dominic Gaskin and his wife, together with the Diplomatic Corps and the rest of the audience, spontaneously kneeled and joined in the prayer.
Meanwhile, Canadian High Commissioner, Ms. Lilian Chatterjee, said that CGX Energy epitomizes partnership, commitment to local content, and good Corporate Social Responsibility. The High Commissioner said that she was proud of the company’s 20-year achievement and of the thoughtful and unique that way it chose to celebrate its anniversary.
Minister Allicock in his remarks noted, “partnership is important” and commended CGX for its collaboration. “This is a significant step for the oil sector and the indigenous people of Guyana. It is in recognition of this intricate relationship shared with the indigenous people of Guyana and the natural environment and resources.”
At a time when Guyanese have found themselves increasingly concerned about the role the general population will play in the emerging industry, this move by CGX was well-received. The event was well attended, with an array of local foods served at the ensuing reception.
The Umana Yana itself was decorated in a rainforest theme and proved to be a fitting venue for the event.
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