A Lukewarm World Heritage Day 2019 in Guyana – by Francis Quamina Farrier

World Heritage Day 2019 in Guyana – by Francis Quamina Farrier

April 18 is the day when countries around the world observe International Day of Monuments and Sites, which is also known as “WORLD HERITAGE DAY. Again this year, that special day which was established by UNESCO, slipped by virtually unheralded here in Guyana.

It is a special day when citizens and tourists alike, visit Monuments and Heritage Sites in droves, hold a number of Conferences and Round Tables related to Monuments and Sites, and journalists write about the Monuments and Heritage Sites in their communities, towns and cities. I have only now come around to write this feature article regards World Heritage Day, 2019, and as such I’m one of those individuals who are, “Guilty by Omission”.

However, as the saying goes, “Better late than never”, and so here I am with this feature article which throws the spotlight on some of Guyana’s Monuments and Sights in our Beautiful “Land of Many Waters” and Lofty Hills and Mountains.         

There are Kaieteur National Park in Region 8, the Fort Island Court of Policy building and the Fort Zeelandia remains on Fort Island in the Essequibo river, Region 3. On Hogg Island, which is also in the Essequibo river, and Guyana’s largest island, is the remains of one of the centuries-old windmills. There is also the historic Fort Nassau on the upper Berbice river, Region 6 and the 1763 Monument in Georgetown. At Linden, there is the Old Water Wheel at Christianburg, in Region 10.

Young Century palms at the Dr Walter Rodney Monument on Hadfield Street in Georgetown. (Photo by FQ Farrier)

Buildings such as the historic St. Peter’s Anglican Church on Leguan Island in the Essequibo river in Region 3, as well as the St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, the St. Andrew’s Kirk and the Smith Memorial Congregational Church in Georgetown. Another well-known house of worship is the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Brickdam in Georgetown, are among the many Heritage Buildings. The Indian Arrival Day Monument in the Monument Garden in Georgetown is also, like the 1763 monument and the Non-Aligned Monument, of more recent post-Independence vintage. There is also great significance of the Enmore Martyrs Monument on the East Coast Demerara, and the 1823 Monument on the Sea Wall road in Georgetown.

So, too, the Dr. Walter Rodney Monument on Hadfield Street in Georgetown which is located opposite the school where the Internationally-known historian had his early education.

St Peter’s Church. Leguan Island. Essequibo.

So what is so special about Monuments and Sights? The International Council on Monuments and Sites made a proposal on April 18, 1982. It was approved by the UN General Assembly of UNESCO that very year. The aim is to promote awareness about diversity of Cultural Heritage of humanity, their vulnerability and efforts required for their protection and conservation. Sites such as the Indigenous Rock Carvings in the South Rupununi. The giant ant hills in the Central Rupununi, have been with us in some cases, for centuries. Humans need a bit of connection to the historic past, as we move forward into the unknown future.

So we build monuments and we fence around important sites and enact laws for their protection. We visit such places and we tell our children and grand-children what they mean. Most of us realize how important it is to build monuments and protect certain historic sites in our country. The centuries-old iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, was recently severely damaged by a raging inferno. Within forty eight hours, over one Billion dollars was donated from around the world for its restoration. The richest French Families have also come together to donate many millions more. Guyana’s iconic St. George’s Cathedral – the tallest wooden building in the world – is still in need of donations for its current on-going repairs.

At this time donors are not actually rushing with the funds needed for the up-keep of this iconic building, even though an image of it adorns the $100 Guyana bank note. One would expect that at some time, the Bank of Guyana which faces the St. George’s Cathedral would step across pass the Non-Aligned Monument, to that cathedral neighbour, and donate a million of those $100 bills to the custodians of the cathedral to assist in its repairs. That can still be done; better late than never.

In the down-town area of the city, is the Non-Aligned Monument located in the Company Path Garden between the Magnificent Wooden St. George’s Cathedral and the Bank of Guyana. In it are the four busts of the Fathers of the Non-Aligned Movement; President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, President Jawaharlal Nehru of India and President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia. This location is usually well-maintained by the National Trust. Unfortunately, more often than not, vagrants use the western pavement in front of this monument as a bedroom, sleeping with their bodies right across the pavement and impeding the free movement of pedestrians. Some years ago, the bust of President Kwame Nkrumah was vandalized by a vagrant. It was later repaired and replaced.

The Damon Monument which is located at the Bus Park at Anna Regina in Region 2, is of particular significance. It represents a real person who, according to those who know the story of his execution in the compound of the Public Buildings, are of the view that he was innocent of the crime of insurrection, for which he was condemned and hanged in public. Some individuals of today are of the view that Damon should be given an official pardon by the British.

As we belatedly focus on some of Guyana’s Monuments and Sites, let us always remember to care for them, no matter how small or unknown. Or how large and important, like the Kaieteur National Park, on the Potaro river in Region 8, since they belong to all of us. By-the-Way, when last have you taken a youngster to have a look at the Children’s Monument at the north-eastern corner of the National Park in Georgetown?

The Damon Monument at Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast, Region 2. (Photo by FQ Farrier)

Farrier at the Non-Aligned Monument. At left the bust of President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and at right bust of Prime Minister Jwaharlel Nehru of India.

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