Trip Start Oct 30, 2010
49Trip End Aug 27, 2011
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One thing that became very obvious to me almost immediately, however, was that this was an African holiday, not a Guyanese holiday given that the event was attended by truly an extremely small minority of individuals of non-African descent (and as you will remember Guyana is a plural society comprised of six peoples, here listed in order of highest proportion of the population, to the lowest: Indo-Guyanese, Afro-Guyanese, Amerindians, Portuguese, Chinese and white Europeans). This in fact, is perhaps at best a benign but visible marker of why many Guyanese feel that there is nothing to celebrate on 'Emancipation' day, as the country's people are still in social and economic bondage, and are not emancipated from inequality, poverty, or racism. Guyana's motto is: "One People, One Nation, One Destiny" which could not be more of a contradiction at this moment, especially given the recent murder of 3 protestors from Linden (a predominantly Afro-Guyanese community), where they were shot and killed by the police after refusing to disband from a bridge which they and hundreds of other Lindeners were blocking in protest over the hike in electricity bills (an increase which this poor mining community cannot afford to pay)
Since the shootings, numerous communities have been organizing pickets and protests in solidarity with the Lindeners which Red Thread has been heavily involved in, and for a brief description of the events you can see the link: here. Furthermore, Emancipation Day was the day these now martyred victims were buried, thus recent events made the experience in the National park bittersweet for many.
Anyway, since pictures (especially in relation to cultural activities) tend to truly be worth a thousand words, am including a few photos courtesy of the talented Pere DeRoy of some of the more positive aspects of the day. And while we are on the topic of Afro-Guyanese traditions, please see the next post for a recipe for Provisions... a favorite African inspired Guyanese breakfast (or quoting Ian "whenever it's ready" dish). Can't wait to make it for the fam at home with some baccon and eggs. ~M