Mashramani lived up to its true meaning from the Arawak Indigenous language — celebration after hard work. This was clear when scores of performers, costume clad revelers and musicians, commanded Founders Auditorium stage, at Medgar Evers College to celebrate 50 years of cultural splendor.
More than 400 Guyanese Diasporans from every race, creed, and religion, joined this festival which started on Feb. 23, 1970, and honored on Feb. 23, 2020 in Brooklyn,
NYPD Officers Kyhume Khan and Wendell Seymore, presented the American and Guyana flags, followed by the national anthems, to open the celebration under the patronage of Barbara Atherly, consul general of Guyana to New York, and Guyanese in the Diaspora, Inc. with the support of the Guyana Cultural Association, New York.
Guyana United We Love; was befitting the togetherness that summarized – Guyanese, decked out in national dress.
“We honor, the tradition of Mashramani, as we showcase Guyana’s rich cultural heritage. I assure you that the talent you will experience here tonight, will prove that apart from Guyana’s bounty of natural resources and beauty, our true wealth lies within our people,” said Atherly.
Under the 50th Golden Jubilee theme “Guyana Together – Celebrate, Reflect, Transform,” CG Atherly assured that there was much to celebrate and much more to anticipate in the future. “I urge everyone to take this opportunity, to reflect on our fight for freedom and independence through slavery indentureship, and colonialism,” said the consul general while recalling Guyana’s path to independence.
The diplomat then congratulated Cultural Ambassador, Claire A. Goring and political activist Mark Benschop on being honored by President David A. Granger with the Medal of Service, in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee.
In excerpts from his video message, the head-of-state described the Republic’s celebration as an auspicious event of enormous significance to Guyanese at home, and in the diaspora, adding, “the Golden Jubilee evoked feelings of national pride.”
“The Republic expresses its appreciation to members of the diaspora for their continued interest and contribution to national development, as the Coalition continues to engage them on matters of national importance, recognizing the integral role they play in supporting our nation’s quest for prosperity and development,” said President Granger.
The infectious enjoyment spread throughout the standing room only auditorium, where every exciting minute of the spectacular cultural presentation, echoed with Guyana, as flags were waved in uniformity.
Resolutions from New York State Senator, Roxanne Persaud and Senator Brian A. Benjamin, State Senator for District 30, in the Bronx, and Britnee Timberlake, 34th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly, handed over by Lady Ira Lewis, were presented to Consul General Hon. Barbara Atherly.
Accomplished, brilliant performers brought back memories of the good old days. Gavin Mendonca, thrilled with beloved folk songs, “Itaname” and “Small Days,” before Indigenous dancer (“Queen B”), Dion Glasgow, showed her motion with the Matapee song dance, followed by Erwin “Flantis” Edward, who revved up the crowd with Soca music.
A portrait of Guyana and Legend of Kaieteur, brought rich depiction to life, in dance, drama, narration, and music, that showcased Guyana’s six races of peoples, Makonaima — Amerindian ancestors, and Boom, Kittle & Fire-African Ancestors, in an illustrious production, showcasing sensational International Dancer, Zaman, students of Impressions Dance Theater, and young dancers Sapphire & Zephyra Rose-Wagner.
The invigorating entertainment continued with Gucci Boss, renowned performer, Super Terry, one-man-band who got nationals on their feet with memorable songs, “Not a Blade of Grass” made famous by Dave Martins.
He continued with “We out of GT” saying Guyana has the most beautiful women in the world, before breaking out with “All Them Girls wine and shake their Bam Bam” shouting “Anybody from Guyana,” as Emcee, Erwin “Washy” Washington, pumped up the crowd with, “let me hear some noise,” much to the delight of Guyanese who responded with roars of “Guyana,” and wave of flags, with pulsating camaraderie.
“Beautiful Guyana” and “The Porknocker,” by songwriter, Hilton Hemerding evoked heartwarming nostalgia. And thanks to Brenda Locke and Mark Cheong for their classical Portuguese Dance, Shristi Sooknanan’s, poem, “Brown Sugar,” accompanied Yashokamini on Tabla, and Jonathan Locke Kishore and Seunarine’s resonant narration, that captured Guyana’s rich culture.
Gifted, veteran poet Kwesi Oginga’s poem, “I am a Guyanese” stirred pride and love of country, also seen in Wayne Daniels’ African choreography, the Masquerade Band with Winston “Jeggae” Hoppie, Akoyaw Rudder, and Bam Bam Sally, skilled displayed by Doris Rodney, in an exciting Mash party.
Tropical Fete Stilt Dancers added excitement among the costume-clad revelers who stormed the audience.
The dynamic elements of the six races, brought together in a most thrilling and colorful way, with Burgette Williams-Forde, as the Mad Cow — a stirring part of the masquerade legend, added authenticity, and brought down the curtains on an historic and memorable Mashramani commemoration in Brooklyn, thanks to the massive production team that must be applauded.
Lourdeth Ferguson gave a heartfelt vote of thanks, before a lucky audience member went home with a flat screen TV, compliments of sponsor, Western Union.