GUYANA: Attempt Made to Burn Down Umana Yana – HGP Nightly News

Umana Yana


Just around 2am Sunday, a female police constable on duty at the Umana Yana observed a man as he scaled the Northeastern fence of the compound with a black tyre in his right hand, a bottle in his left hand and ran to the Western side of the building.

The constable reported that she ” ran in the direction of the man and observed that he was setting fire to the lower branches affixed to the roof of the building.”           

Fire officials said that the man, upon seeing the constable scaled the eastern fence and proceeded east on Battery Road on foot making good his escape.

The fire was quickly put out by the constable who used a nearby fire extinguisher.

Police are now looking for red (GWW) series Pick-Up which was reportedly facing North on High Street with three occupants, who moments after the fire, stopped in front of the Umana Yana for a few seconds and turned around and headed South on High Street.

In September of 2014, the Umana Yana was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in 2016.


UMANA YANA (from Wikipedia) –

The Umana Yana (Pronounced oo-man-a yan-na) is a conical palm thatched hut (benab) erected for the Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers Conference in Georgetown, Guyana in August 1972 as a V.I.P. Lounge and recreation centre.

“Umana Yana” is a Wai-Wai word meaning “Meeting place of the people”.

Situated on Main Street next to the Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel, it is now a permanent and much admired part of Georgetown‘s scenery, and is in constant use 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.

On April 7, 2001, the Umana Yana, along with the African Liberation Monument, was gazetted as one of Guyana’s National Monuments.[1]

Renovated in 2010, on September 9, 2014 the Umana Yana was gutted by fire and destroyed. The government planned to rebuild the national landmark as soon as possible, with better ventilation and to correct electrical issues which are suspected in the earlier fire.[2] Rebuilding started in late 2015 and was completed in 2016.[1]

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  • wic  On 07/12/2020 at 8:54 pm

    Sad. If caught, the miscreant and his buddies should get life in jail with hard labour and pay for remedying the damage. In China,they won’t be jailed but their families would have to pay for the cost of the bullets fired in he back of their heads.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 07/13/2020 at 12:35 am

    That is the first question that came to mind:

    “Was the fire arm of the police officer loaded?”

  • geoffburrowes  On 07/13/2020 at 10:42 am

    Minister Sir Sonny Ramphal flew up to Wai Wai country in a single engined plane and negotiated with the Wai Wai touchou (Cheif) to send some Wai Wai workmen to build a replica of their council house, which became the Umana Yama.
    Why would anyone would want to burn it down?
    Geoff Burrowes

    • Chris  On 07/13/2020 at 10:55 am

      It should not matter how a structure was built, who built it or when it was built. The question should be, why would anyone want to burn down any building ?


  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 07/13/2020 at 12:50 pm

    Someone is trying to irritate the Amerindian populace; and drive a wedge between them and an ethnic group.

    So who will gain if this happens?

    Therein lies your answer!


    • Chris  On 07/13/2020 at 3:11 pm

      If that’s the case, Veda, it can only be described as pure evil. But somehow I think the native inhabitants, who have been living and surviving here for thousands of years, are smart enough to figure out sinister motives.


  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 07/13/2020 at 3:35 pm

    History helps us to understand the present and predict the future.

    In Jul 1964, while Dr. Jagan was Premier, his Permanent Secretary, Mr Abraham was incinerated along with seven youngest children, Only his wife, who lately passed away, and two daughters survived.

    Mr Abraham lived about 2-300 hundred yards behind the GT- Brickdam Police station which had a fire engine, yet the fire killed 8 people in short order.
    Reports, as customary at the time, said that persons wearing “red shirts” ( a definite implication of Dr. Jagan’s PPP youth arm, the PYO) were seen scampering away from the scene.

    The blame was immediately cast on Dr Jagan as a Communist who would destroy anything in his path in order to make Guyana, a Communist enclave in South America (The RED scare).

    But subsequent reports show that there was a CIA plot and British gov’t collusion to get Dr.Jagan and his PPP party out of power so as to install Burnham and the PNC.

    Burnham got in under the PR electoral system (part of the plot). He then ditched D’Aguiar/UF; and rigged every election until he died in 1985; made himself President for life, during which time, Guyanese icon, Rodney was blown up by a bomb, etc etc. Hoyte continued til 1992 (only by insistence of Pres Carter for Fair elections the PNC lost gov’t).

    Today, after 4 ½ mos we have no elected gov’t, as a result of “rogue” players at GECOM. The CEO, Lowenfield has provided three reports giving lame-duck Pres. Brigadier Granger’s (PNC)/Apnu+AFC coalition the win.
    Each of these reports gives a different number of votes cast, nevertheless, Granger’s side always emerges the winner.

    This piece of history and current events will help you figure who the culprit is.

  • Roop Misir  On 07/13/2020 at 6:18 pm

    Why would anyone in his right frame of mind want to destroy the Umana Yana — a national treasure? As a student attending High School in Georgetown, I vividly recall the “disturbances’ (1962-64) & related destruction. I still have memories of the destruction as I write these words!

    • Chris  On 07/13/2020 at 9:55 pm

      “Why would anyone in his right mind want to destroy the Umana Yana -?” Roop Misir.

      Clearly, you can’t be in your right mind to want to destroy a national treasure. It has to be someone sick or of a criminal mind.

      The Umana Yana was destroyed by fire in September 2014. That fire was suspected to have been caused by poor ventilation. Reconstruction began in 2015 and completed in 2016 with improvements to the ventilation system. Now, apparently, evil elements want to destroy it again? Shameful.

  • guyaneseonline  On 07/13/2020 at 8:39 pm

    Min. Allicock condemns arson attempt on Umana Yana

    Jul 13, 2020 Government, Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, News
    DPI, Guyana, Monday, July 13, 2020

    Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock has condemned the recent arson attempt on the Umana Yana.

    In a press statement issued today, Minister Allicock described the act as incomprehensible noting that the country must focus on “building and not destroying” it is to move forwards as a unified nation.

    “It is troubling to think that an individual can to look at such a treasure to destroy it,” the Minister stated.

    He reminded that the Umana Yana is one of Guyana’s national treasures, a historic site for all Guyanese. He noted that it is a part of the Indigenous culture and their contribution to the nation.

    “I see this as a stupid act and ask all Guyanese to condemn this action,” Minister Allicock said.

    Cautioning that even amid the current political climate, Guyanese must maintain law and order, respect each other and desist from destroying public property.

    Originally built in 1972 by members of the Wai Wai group, to facilitate the first Non-Aligned Movement meeting, the Umana Yana is the largest structure of its kind in Guyana.

    In 2010, the structure was refurbished for $16Million and included a team of 39 Wai Wais painstakingly affixing over 500,000 troolie palm leaves, held together by vines gathered from the remote St Cuthbert’s Mission.

    On September 9, 2014, the Umana Yana was gutted by fire and destroyed. Reconstruction of the building began in late 2015 at a cost of about $66.7 Million and was completed the following year.

    The name, ‘Umana Yana’ is of Amerindian origin and means the meeting place.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 07/14/2020 at 7:15 am

    Another fire at Wismar. Is the 60s being reprised?

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 07/14/2020 at 7:49 am

    I mentioned on another thread that with the fire at Wismar I am fearful for the Indian there who were ethnically cleansed in 1964.
    Bryan blocked it.

    • Ramesh  On 07/14/2020 at 8:46 am

      Veda: Do you, or anyone, know what the current Indian population is in the Wismar region? News sources say that the overnight fire was that of Yolanda Ward’s GECOM office which was completely destroyed.

      I’m afraid it is dangerously reminiscent of the 1960s. All this could have avoided had Granger and his amoral cabal done the right thing and concede peaceably.

      Recall, in the aftermath of the fraudulent, farcical election in Venezuela in May 2018, the Granger administration’s response:

      “We reiterate that the electoral process which took place in Venezuela on May 20, 2018, lacked legitimacy as it neither included the participation of all political actors in Venezuela, nor did it have the presence of independent international observers, nor did it comply with the necessary guarantees or international standards for a free, fair and transparent election. Accordingly, we do not recognize the legitimacy of the new presidential term of Nicolás Maduro or his regime, commences on January 10, 2019.”

      Here we have a classic example of “do as I say but not as I do “. This man should consider the potentially costly, dangerous consequences of his illegal action and step down with an instruction to his followers to respect his decision and to abstain from any form of criminal behaviour.


  • guyaneseonline  On 07/14/2020 at 8:09 am

    I demand truth from you in relation to your contributions to this blog.
    I have NOT edited or blocked any of your writings even though many are very selective, non-factual and one-sided in their conclusions.
    I do not really care what people write, so long as they keep the rules relating to personal attacks.
    And by the way my name is not Bryan. It is Cyril, or Cyril Bryan or Mr. Bryan.

    Cyril Bryan

    Thank you

    • Bernard  On 07/14/2020 at 9:06 am

      Good morning, Mr Cyril Bryan, I fully support your efforts to have visitors to the site stick to the facts and to keep it clean.


      • guyaneseonline  On 07/14/2020 at 10:10 am

        Thank you Bernard.

        We are living in the “End Times”, an old lady, 99 years old, told me four years ago. I smiled and told her NO as I thought that she was just another “Bible Thumper”.
        She is still alive and will be 100 in December and still has all her faculties intact… God has blessed her.

        Now I do wonder sometimes if she is right.

  • guyaneseonline  On 07/14/2020 at 8:38 am


    If entries are blocked you may see a message saying “awaiting moderation”
    The WORDPRESS program I use automatically blocks some entries. I am not sure what keywords it uses to block messages.
    They have to await my intervention to release them when I go online.

    Messages will be blocked (or later deleted) if they have distasteful language.

    Thank you

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