Jul 28, 2021 Letters
They say little things mean a lot and in a polarised society where things like race, religion and even colours for national events have a deep meaning. Like others, I was taken back and surprised that uniforms worn by the Guyana Olympic team at the opening ceremony in Japan was predominantly red.
The Minister of Culture and the Ministry, apart from making a strong political response, claim that the Ministry had nothing to do with the choice of colours for the Guyana Olympic team uniform. I am a little surprised that the Minister and the Ministry, which has shown a proclivity to be involved in sometimes minute details, claims to be unaware of the colours of the Guyana delegation’s uniform. As a matter of both curiosity and courtesy, the Ministry should have, as a routine, ask to see the uniform which would identify Guyana to the rest of the world.
The Minister, in a very robust reply, says this was entirely a matter for the Guyana Olympic Association. This is strange but the Minister is an honourable man, and we must believe him. The Minister, obviously with little knowledge of our history and our culture, goes on to criticise the PNC-led coalition for flaunting green and yellow during its incumbency. I wish to state the following. First, back in the days of the PNC, when the PPP was then in office, in the late 50’s early 60’s, I recall a discussion at Congress Place, which included Joseph Ganga Ramson who was the party’s Finance Manager. He did not accept the idea that the party should be identified by a single colour.
Indeed, when the Party Flag design was accepted, it was red, green and black with the Palm Tree in a circle in the centre. Young Ramson ought to know that red has always been a favourite colour of the People’s Progressive Party – the fact, that it got them in hot water during the Cold War is, of course, another matter. Red before and after the Cold War is associated with the Red Army in China and the Soviet Union. Mr. Ramson, as Minister of Culture should also know that long before Independence under the British, green and gold were features that characterised British Guiana.
Recall scout jamborees, when sea scouts and land scouts met, we sang lustily “DEMERARA, oh DEMERARA, you betta clear the way leh we pass, for when you see DEMERARA in she royal green and gold, you betta clear the way leh we pass.” In those pre- and post-World War II days, the whole of British Guiana was better known as DEMERARA. In fact, in Europe, North America and the West Indies, we were known as Demerarians not British Guianese. The fact is that when David Granger became Leader of the PNC and later President, he developed an attraction for green. This was not new.
The words of our National Anthem written by an English man, Reverend Archibald Leonard Luker, in the second stanza, states “ Green land of Guyana, our heroes of yore, Both bondsmen and free.” I hope the Minister on State occasions as every patriot should know these words and would sing them lustily.
When Reverend Luker wrote the meaningful words of the National Anthem, there were no concern for any political grouping, but he merely described our country in a similar manner that it was referred to long before any of our political parties was established. Green has always been the dominant colour associated with Guyana, and certainly not red. Therefore, to have a uniform with no green to represent Guyana is to add insult and to ignore our forest and agricultural resources.
I am disappointed that the Honourable Minister seems to know so little of our history in an area that falls within his portfolio, that he clumsily associates green with a current political group. The Minister should, instead, seek an explanation from the Olympic Association why, for the first time, our Olympic team should wear red as a dominant colour.
Finally, the Minister ought to know that he is doing a great disservice to this and succeeding generations by mutilating our country’s culture and ignoring our history. Is this part of a process to rewrite Guyana’s history? I hope this be not the case.
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