The 50th independence anniversary was a show to remember – Adam Harris + 2 videos

The 50th independence anniversary was a show to remember


LOGO - 50th Independence AnniversaryI was in the United States in 1994 when the ice hockey team, the New York Rangers, won the Stanley Cup. It was the first time in 54 years. One spectator threw his head back and proclaimed, “Now I can die happy.” The year was the same when O.J. Simpson led the police on a slow speed chase, because they wanted to arrest him for the murders of Ronald Goldman and Simpson’s wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson.

I felt the same way as that fan when the land of my birth celebrated its 50th independence anniversary. I saw the greatest influx of overseas-based Guyanese. They kept coming with every flight that landed at the Cheddi Jagan and Ogle International Airports.   

I happened to be coming home from Trinidad when some of them were arriving. The welcome was out of this world, something that none of them could have got anywhere else in the world. That set the tone.  

As I moved around the city I saw how they reacted. For one, they saw an immaculately clean city; they saw a new skyline because some of them had absented themselves for more than thirty years. I learnt that James Wren Gilkes, undoubtedly the best sprinter we ever produced, came in with two of his children who had never come. Gilkes stayed away since the 1970s.

There were others who wanted to see some of the places they could barely remember. I saw them taking photographs outside St George’s Cathedral, on Regent Street, outside Stabroek Market, and just about every location that those of us who stayed home took for granted.

Two of my sisters came. One of them told me that she just got up one morning and decided to buy her ticket. She told the other who decided that she would not be left out. Like everyone who came, they insisted on attending the flag-raising ceremony. That would turn out to be the highpoint of their visit.

I have seen many flag-raising ceremonies, so I take them for granted. The visitors took this one for much more. My sisters told me when it was all over that the event was worth every cent they spent to get here. One of them, Carol, told me that she never felt so much pride and national fervour as when the flag unfurled.

I did hear the screams from the crowd as I followed the event on television, but it took some of the cell phone recordings to make me realize how noisy it really was. People actually cried. This is the Guyana they all want to see, except for some things that showed how divided the country really is. I need not highlight those things now, because they would open wounds and start a conversation that I could do without.

Of course, there was the political component in the form of a walkout by the opposition. It sounded bad until I saw the Minister’s explanation.

When the new government took office there was a radical change in the approach to time. Press conferences began on time as did other events. On the night of the flag-raising ceremony, President David Granger was scheduled to arrive at D’Urban Park at 22:00 hours; he did.

The opposition members of Parliament were asked to arrive at a certain time; they arrived later. I would suppose that old habits die hard. They were asked to use one gate, they used another.

Perhaps their seats should have been waiting for them, regardless of how many people were there.
When the matter came up in the office the other day, I asked the staff if anyone would have dared to arrive in their own time if an invitation from the White House had stipulated a certain time. To a man and woman they answered in the negative.

But this is Guyana, and people believe that they can do as they please, regardless of the event. In the past at public events, the Head of State came in his own time, regardless of who was waiting. That is an insult to the people, but it had become the norm.

I expect this issue will be addressed at the People’s Progressive Party tomorrow and I am going to hear a spin. I insist that it was disrespectful for anyone to arrive late for seating in the VIP stands.
However, the jubilee celebrations were about the people who came from far and wide to be a part of the occasion. There was entertainment galore. People forsook sleep just to take in as much as they could. And there were many shows.

Parlours made money, as did the numerous taxi services. Money came into the economy and silenced those who thought that the country had put out too much for the celebrations. Looking back, the state spent a pittance.

Hotels were full to capacity, even the high-priced ones. The vendors at Bourda Market are still smiling, because they had on offer some of the things that people overseas could only crave. One water coconut vendor said that he wished every day could be an independence anniversary.

All in all, this is what Guyana should be, but we are not a rich country, although everything suggests that we should be. We can behave and be as hospitable as we are known to be. The crime that so many people read about was almost non-existent.

I am happy, because I see what we can do in the best of times. I wish every day could be like this. And for the record, we did put on a party that would be difficult to surpass.


Golden Jubilee Music Video – Guyana 50th Independence  – video

Published on May 27, 2016

Guyana; The Land of many Waters, celebrated our 50th year of Independence with our National Flag Raising ceremony and Float Parade. Cut to the sounds of one of Guyana’s premier voices singing her patriotic rendition, ‘Rise Guyana’ we present you with our perspective of the Golden Jubilee…


Omesh Singh – A tribute to Guyana’s 50th independence – music video

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  • francis jackson  On 06/01/2016 at 9:19 am

    Adam Harris, good write up. Good morning from rainy Chicago. I was not there but I saw some of all viewing the festivities from living room in North America. The events were grand – I never left Guyana, I am in an out of Guyana doing charitable work – but could not be there for the Jubilee celebration – God was in charge! I would not entertain the race discourse and absence, leave that later for another conversation. Asante Sana!

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