Greetings from the Overseas Diaspora
By Godfrey Chin
March 11, 2007
On behalf of the Guyanese overseas diaspora, I extend our heartiest congratulations to the homeland, on achieving 37 years of Republician status.
Okay, we are far, farther away, than the country man signalling directions - "Down deh, around the corner." Actually we are way 'up here' in the far corners of the world, cold bussing ass in Brooklyn and Toronto, and heatwaves in Melbourne, Australia. But deep in our hearts, we were mashing on Republic Day down North Road up to National Park - sno cones, barbeque, umbrellas, costume or no costume - everyman jack in the thick of things, with spectators waiting… waiting… waiting. Many of us overawed by the red vs blue clash - Digicel vs GT&T, but at least safe from VAT, and planning to come for World Cup this month.
Up here, we continue to strive to preserve and promote our rich Guyanese culture, heritage and traditions, and the efforts, in every Guyanese enclave, are 'humongous' and 'bradar.'
In New York, the Guyana Cultural Association has promoted since 2001 the annual GuyFolkFest, before Labour Day, and has recognised over 156 outstanding sons and daughters of the soil with their Wordsworth McAndrew Award. Last year their Queh Queh mismash was a smashing success, and this year their celebrations run from May 26 to Sept 2.
Then, there's Little Guyana in Richmond Hill, Queens, with all the sights, sounds and flavours of back home. Here the annual Phagwah and Diwali Parades and Guyana Day celebrations spearhead a kaleidoscopic broil of things Guyanese, that embraces young and old, first and other generations, and enraptures those who are not from El Dorado.
And of course Ken Corsbie - storyteller, dramatist and humorist - travelling around the clock from Long Island, NY, to around the world, promoting, encouraging our talent and reviving theatre arts and the living word! Every November Henry Muttoo and Dave Martins bring together the cream of Caribbean talent at their annual GimiStory, celebrating the spoken word.
Tony Phillips 'AeroArt,' an outstanding Guyanese artist in Melbourne, Australia mounted a travelling exhibition for the promotion of the Commonwealth Games - a Guyanese panorama of authentic replicas of our singing engine and kankawa kites, while even matching our slingshot, bee-bee wood gun, bow and arrow, with their native boomerang. He even demoed our Guyanese cuisine of pepperpot, cook-up, black pudding and souse, and when dem Aussies tackled the roti, curry and dhal, with knife and fork, the 'Putagee' had the locals like 'monkey see, monkey do, follow me' eatin' with four fingers.
In Toronto, the past students association of St Stanislaus, Queen's College, Bishops, St Roses and St Josephs organise the Last Lap Lime annually during Caribana, that brings together 8000 Guyanese, Canadians and other nationals for a taste of Guyanese food, gaff and entertainment. It's a volunteer one-day event, where net proceeds of over $20,000 are divided among the alma mater schools back home! The St Stanislaus Association also has their CaribJam fete and the recent Wall of Fame project, and the Brickdam school refurbishing is a result of their annual regular fundraisers.
In Boston, Ron Lammy offers the widest selection of Guyanese music on his Bourda Market Place and eCaroh websites. Ron headed the committee that produced the classic anthology of Guyana music, 'Is We Ting' - a must-have for every Guyanese home.
Dr Vibert Cambridge and his Depart-ment of African American Studies at the University of Ohio have made available An Anthology of Writings on Guyanese Music: Black Praxis, another must have for every Guyanese.
In Florida, Chico Khan uses his multi-talents to promote cricket in the USA and now offers a wide range of breathtaking Guyana scenes for all and sundry to enjoy!
When the 2005 floods ravaged the coastline, England-based Keith Waithe, a superb flautist and concerned countrymen launched a televised fundraiser along the lines of 'Feed the World.'
Ray Seales in Tampa brought together a Guyanese bandwagon of artistes - Victor Shim from Toronto, Dave Martin and his Tradewinds from the Cayman Islands, Winston Duggin and Reggie Paul from Miami, Alan Khan and Slingshot from Orlando - Guyanese helping Guyanese.
My award for the most valuable goes to John 'Slingshot' Drepaul, our top calypsonian, who has moved from childhood days at No 63 Beach - 'Berbice River Crossing' - to entertain with his flag-waving calypso commentaries from Europe to Canada. Last Mashramani he was in the thick of things leading his 300 strong Pirates Costume Band. But most significant is that his current hit 'Pirates' brought to the forefront what piracy is doing to artistes locally. This year, he again in the fray with his timely topical 'Welcome to Guyana.'
Slingshot is our local 'Chalkdust.'
The inroads extend to the communication media of TV, newspapers, radio, the internet; from The Caribbean Voice to Hardbeat News; RBC Radio to The Guyana Gazette; from Ron Sanders to David Hinds, Rickey Singh and Godfrey Wray. Hell, must mention also the other Godfrey - this cook-shop-fly's modest contributions.
The Guyanese 'mafia' in England - from Baroness Amos to John Mair - continue to demonstrate prowess and professionalism in every stratum of the English landscape that every Guyanese could indeed be proud of.
And far away from Bourda, the Inverhaugh Cricket Facility in Canada is referred to as a "veritable United Nations of cricket players." What is significant is that these grounds and facilities are the initiative of cricket loving Guyanese, Bart Singh and others, transplanting the knick-knacks of their sport, culture and heritage in distant and foreign lands.
In St Lucia, the indefatigable Reds Perreira continues his quest to promote Guyanese sports, and his donations and contributions have yielded outstanding sports achievements in several disciplines.
Yes, we the overseas diaspora may be far away from our roots, but our heart and soul are still 'down deh' - from the coastline to the Rupununi; Orealla to Mabaruma. We are still and forever proud Guyanese, making a hell of a difference wherever we deh! Ya think it easy!
Check out godfreychin.com for details of Godfrey's upcoming publication, NOSTALGIAS.
Visit godfreychin.com at your leisure, thanks!