Umana Yana – “Meeting Place of the People”

Umana Yana – “Meeting Place of the People”

Umana Yana Building

Umana Yana Building, Main St. Georgetown. Guyana.

. “Umana Yana” is a Wai-Wai word meaning “Meeting place of the people”.  The Umana Yana on Main Street, next to the Pegasus Hotel, is a conical palm thatched hut (benab) erected for the Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers Conference in Guyana in August 1972 as a V.I.P. Lounge and recreation centre. It is now a permanent structure and admired part of Georgetown‘s scenery, and used as an exhibition and conference centre.

The structure is 55 feet (16.78 meters) high and is made from thatched allibanna and manicole palm leaves, and wallaba posts lashed together with mukru, turu and nibbi vines. No nails were used. It was erected by a team of about sixty Wai-Wai Amerindians, one of the nine indigenous tribes of Guyana. Fashioned like the Wai-Wai benabs or shelters which are found deep in Guyana’s interior, it occupies an area of 460 square metres, making it the largest structure of its kind in Guyana.

On 26 August 1974, President Forbes Burnham unveiled the African Liberation Monument outside the benab “in memory of all of those who have struggled and continue to struggle for freedom from Human Bondage”. The monument consists of five polished Greenheart logs encased in a jasper stand on a granite boulder.

Other UmaNa Yana  related stories:

Amerindians ignored on Int’l Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

Umana Yana refurbished by Wai Wai – ready soon

Indigenous people could hold the ‘swing vote’ in next election -Norton

Ministry of Amerindian Affairs – Guyana

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  • Ken Corsbie  On 10/03/2010 at 1:54 pm

    Another useful posting in your excellent site. It led me to note that there are two videos that may be of follow-up interest to Amerindian affairs – both products of Dr. Michael Gilkes. They are his play COUVADE on the stage of the Cultural Centre 1994, and CONCERT IN THE RAIN FOREST about a piano taken into Amerindian country and played by Guyanese concert pianist Ray Luck.

  • Ken Corsbie  On 10/03/2010 at 7:48 pm

    As a follow-up to my last comment ref. relevant videos, there is SURVIVORS, one of the thirteen documentary TV programs in the CARIBBEAN EYE. series.
    More information from Christopher Laird of

  • alica  On 09/29/2012 at 7:47 pm


  • resa  On 04/08/2013 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks to this little history I was able to pass my test and also my project I got everything I needed for my project from this little history

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