Guyana’s Golden Jubilee: Celebration or Commemoration? – By Nigel Westmaas

Celebration or Commemoration?: History, Public Education and Guyana’s Golden Jubilee

In the Diaspora logoBy  Nigel Westmaas – February 29, 2016 – Stabroek News

The Guyana Chronicle headline screamed “Patriotism Returns” after the flag raising ceremony at the new Jubilee Stadium on D’urban Park on Republic Day, February 23. It was a great moment to see the Golden Arrowhead unfurl with grace in the wind. And after Republic comes the Golden Jubilee. Excitement is in the air. A huge budget has been allocated for May and the hordes, both local and overseas, are set to descend on Georgetown.

But to suggest “patriotism” has returned in that fleeting moment is a gross exaggeration. Guyana is a country a long way from national healing and a sense of collective memory. Other words have been thrown around widely and energetically for the 50th anniversary, none more so than “celebrate.” What about “commemoration” in place of “celebrate”?  

The terms “commemorate” and “celebrate” are obviously quite close in meaning but “commemorate” holds more reflective promise. To “commemorate” is to recall and show respect for something in a ceremony”. To “celebrate” is to “publicly acknowledge a significant happy day or event with a social gathering or enjoyable activity”. I would say “celebrate” and proclaim “patriotism returns” only if the country simultaneously engages in historical reflection and public education towards the end of critical assessment, introspection, and action. [Read more]

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 03/25/2016 at 12:52 pm

    Excellent article by Nigel Westmaas. Thanks for sharing.

    For my part, I can neither “celebrate” nor “commemorate” Guyana’s Golden Jubilee. I’m currently battling with my own conflicting feelings on what our independent nation has achieved during these past fifty years.

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