Guyana Cultural Association: A Great Year for the GCA Annual Events – by Francis Quamina Farrier

 – by Francis Quamina Farrier
Recently, I reported on the first two events staged by the Guyana Cultural Association of New York in their 2019 Season of Events. They were the Centenary Concert to the memory and honour of Composer of patriotic songs, Valerie Rodway, and the Awards Ceremony at which singer/songwriter Dave Martins headed the list of Honorees, being the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
I feel compelled to let you know (if you do not already know) that the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc., is comprised of a group of patriotic and dedicated New York-based Guyanese, who have been keeping Guyana’s Culture alive in that metropolis for almost two decades. The staging of a variety of annual events such as an Awards Ceremony at which deserving cultural activists of Guyanese heritage are honoured.         
I continue my report this week at the Kwe Kwe Nite, at which that pre-wedding ceremony is played out. On at least one occasion over the past nineteen years, a real engaged couple was involved. The focus will also be on a Literary Hang at which Guyanese authors read from their most recent works, and finally, a Family Fun Day which is usually held at an open-air venue and attended by hundreds of Guyanese and Friends who are entertained by some popular and talented Guyanese entertainers, both Guyana-based and overseas-based. 
In her message to the GCA Committee for this year’s Folk Festival season, Guyana’s Consul General to New York, Barbara Atherly, said, “This yearly gathering within the Diaspora unites us all through cultural events hosted under the theme Maiupe – Working together. You have chosen to showcase Guyana through your individual talents and expertise. You have remained committed to nurturing a greater understanding and appreciation of our culture”, stated the Consul General. 
The third event this year was the Kwe Kwe Night. This event is always very popular, and is held at the St. Stephen’s Church Auditorium in Brooklyn. There was a difference this year with the inclusion of the Matticore, which like the Kwe Kwe, is an Indian Pre-Wedding ceremony. The Indian drumming was at some periods, fused with the African drumming, and was something to hear. It was simply terrific. “I thought the Indian Group captured the essence of the Matticore in thirty minutes”, stated Kishore Seunarine, the leader of thee Nervano Group that did the Matticore. “From the actual of the digging of the earth (dig dutty), to the rubbing of the dye (haldi), on the bride-to-be, the energy of the tassa drum was electric.” according to Kishore Seunarine. For the audience, that food to the ear, was later followed with food for the stomach when the traditional sharing and consuming of the matai was done. Oh, what an event it was this year with the fusing of the two cultures! The event was also graced with the presence of Guyana’s First Lady, Sandra Granger.
This event brings together intellectuals including Authors, Poets, Playwrights and Educators. At The ‘Hang’, authors read from their most recent works after which the audience is engaged in discussions. Topics of Guyanese Culture are also some of the issues discussed. This year, the principal being The Guyana Masquerade. Technology made it possible for two masqueraders based in distance Toronto and far-away Calgary in Canada, to join in the discussion with their larger-than-life images on a screen. Sharing with the audience his many challenges as a High Achiever in a world which was, and to some degree, is still very uncomfortable with Brilliant non-whites, Florida-Based Guyanese Dr. Frank Douglas gave examples of how he over-came racism at the International level; examples of how he would deal with being a highly qualified Black Professional, who finds many obstacles in some otherwise all-White corridors of power.  
This open-air event was held at the Old Boys High School ground in Brooklyn. At this event, popular Guyanese entertainers take to the stage and perform their more popular compositions. Among those on stage this year was the talented and dynamic Adrian Dutchin. His was a performance with elements not usually seen on display at such a show. For a portion of his performance, the charismatic entertainer lifted the focus to God, and transitioned the event momentarily into a Religious Crusade. He subsequently brought his young daughter on stage and introduced her to the audience. It was a great moment at this year’s GCA Family Fun Day, and one which will not be easily forgotten by those who witnessed it. It is also a story for pastors to relate on Father’s Day 2020 and beyond. Among the special celebrities at this year’s Family Fun Day, were Guyana’s First Lady Sandra Granger, Guyana’s Consul General to New York Barbara Atherley and retired West Indies Cricket Captain Clive Lloyd.
In his message to the GCA, Guyana’s Ambassador to the United States Dr. Riyad Insanally, CCH, stated, “I am pleased that the GCA’s cultural activities continue to focus on the promotion of our culture and cultural heritage, thereby providing a sense of belonging and personal identity.” So, it is now on to 2020 when there will be many special elements as the GCA celebrates its twentieth year of patriotic service and Guyana also celebrates its fiftieth year as a Cooperative Republic. 


Kishore Seunarine at the GCA 2019 Kwe Kwe and Matticore event in Brooklyn. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)  

GCA 2019 Kwe Kwe and Maupe merge and Singh and Sobers, Peters and Persaud et al, danced together with abandon. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

Retired West Indies Cricket Captain, Clive Lloyd and Francis Quamina Farrier at the GCA Family Fun Day, 2019.

​First Lady Sandra Granger and Guyana’s Consul General to New York Barbara Atherly, at the GCA Family Fun Day, 2019. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

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