In-coming Mayor of the City of East Orange, Ted R. Green and Guyana Consul General to New York, Mrs. Barbara Atherly joined nationals on June 23 to raise the Golden Arrowhead flag on City Hall Plaza to commemorate Guyana’s 51st Anniversary of Independence, organized by the Guyana American Heritage Foundation (GAHF).
Mayor Lester E. Taylor who was attending a Mayor’s conference, issued a statement expressing how proud he was of the city’s rich cultural history, and noted the great impact ‘our Guyanese family has had on the City of East Orange community.”
Osner J. Charles, director of recreation and cultural affairs, read the statement that said. “Guyanese make up one of the largest segments of our Caribbean population. They are hardworking and dedicated members of our city. They are civil servants, business owners, teachers, engineers, police officers firefighters and concerned and active residents. They are family, said the statement.
Mayor Taylor’s message added, that the Guyana American Heritage Foundation under the passionate leadership of Lady Ira Lewis and through its many endeavors continue to keep alive the rich traditions that have become an intrinsic part of East Orange’s cultural legacy.
“As we raise the Guyanese flag today, we embrace you, we honor you and we recognize that we are ‘One people, One nation, One destiny. We are one East Orange,’” said Mayor Taylor.
Ted R. Green welcomed Guyanese and praised the immigrants for their steadfast contribution to the City of East Orange and he promised to continue to support their endeavors in the township.
Councilmembers, Casim Gomez, and Romal Bullock also brought greetings to the event.
In her keynote address Atherly reminded Guyanese of the struggles their country endured before becoming an independent nation on May 26, 1966, stating — “Our national pride originated from that first time the Golden Arrowhead was hoisted and the national anthem sung.”
“‘Our motto; One people, One nation, One destiny,’ intrinsically calls for unity. I am well aware that the Guyanese Diaspora strives to uphold this motto with unified aspirations towards peace and progressive development for our beloved homeland,” said Atherly, adding that generations have brought their enormous spirit, unique talents and vibrant culture to the United Stated and have expanded on these attributes.
“I encourage that you remember our homeland and re-invest these qualities,” she said, and applauded Lady Ira and the committee of the GAHF for recognizing the need to connect the Guyanese community and “celebrate our culture.”
“The construction of a library in Agricola in Guyana by President Lady Ira Lewis has been a product of the patronage. Let us promise to emulate these great works of Guyanese.”
Lady Ira, president of GAHF who received proclamations from Mayor Dwayne D. Marren of the City of Orange and Mayor of the City of East Orange, Lester E Taylor, welcomed the Guyanese community, and thanked the expatriates for their commitment to their cultural heritage and willingness to celebrate Guyana’s Independence every year, for the last 12 years at East Orange City Hall.
President of the Essex County Freeholder Board, Britnee Timberlake, singled out Lady Ira Lewis, as someone who was always bringing people together, and said Guyana’s motto of “One people, One nation, One destiny” was dear to her heart. She said if everyone came together as brothers and sisters the community would be better for it.
A resolution was passed making the great city of East Orange, a sanctuary city, said Timberlake who told the gathering that it does not matter which country they come from, “you are all welcome here.”
Youth Ambassador Shaika Cooke in turn encouraged youth to continue to inspire each other.
The cultural presentation included a solo by five-year-old Mia Gonzalez, soca sensation Shelly G who revved up the crowd, followed by the Franko Singers who did a Kwe Kwe (folk celebration). A fashion show by Georgetown-based designer, Sonia Noël capped off the celebration.
GAHF Certificates of Appreciation were presented to Council General Hon. Atherly, Sonia Noel, Shelly G, Ervin Washington, Molly Etworo, and others.
Nicholas Oluyemi of the Christian faith, Samdat Persaud of the Hindu faith and Ashrat Latif Muslim, of the Muslim faith, blessed the commemoration.