Masquerade is said to have its genesis in Guyana from African slaves during the European religious Christmas season, when the country was a colony of Britain.
Slaves, who were forbidden to practice their traditions, were slightly less restricted during the season, and were allowed to visit other plantations and revel with other slaves where celebratory drumming and dancing in the streets were also allowed at this time.
The dancing, drumming and elaborate costumes and effigies developed by the colonial masquerade bands reflected religious festival traditions of the Ibo and Yoruba tribes of West Africa during the time of the Harmattan (dry, dusty Nov – March winds blowing from the Sahara toward the west African coast) and harvest celebrations.
According to sources, the Ibo and Yoruba believed that this was the time when their Gods, dressed in costumes and masks, came to visit, and performed dances.
While the slaves danced in entertainment, much of the spiritual traditions were retained in the masks and symbols that represented ancestors and gods, along with the acrobatics and costumes, which represented, or perhaps theatrically portrayed, stories of strength, agility, fertility, battle, evil and terror.
Over the years, European influences were adapted. According to Noah Banks in his article ‘Christmas Past in Guyana’ (Caribbean Property Magazine, Issue 23, Dec 2008):
The fertility symbol, for instance, became the ‘belly woman’ during the modern period. From the Christian influence came the devil with his pitchfork which was a source of terror for the onlookers. The policeman was introduced, as was Mother Sally, while the ‘bad cow’ or ‘cow head’ represented the elements of fear and acrobatic agility, and the horse head was a symbol of strength. Others in the old versions were the houseboat, the house, the king, the queen, the executioner and the doctor. The last named was also a source of much humour because of his role in the ‘doctor play’. In this drama, the king had a rival with whom he fought to the death. This duel would be followed by the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness when the doctor would come in to restore the dead to life. In a Guyanese version of this doctor play, the element of humour loomed large.
One of the few features that survived to contemporary times is the acrobatic agility displayed in the past by Koo Joo or Actor Boy. The stilt dancer performs these feats, as does the wild cow dancer. To a certain extent the flouncers are expected to have similar skills…
The spectacle that was masquerade at Christmas declined over the years, particularly by the late 20th century; Banks notes, “…most of the great features have disappeared from the contemporary masquerade band in Guyana.”
Recent efforts to revive the dying art form and tradition have seen collaboration between civil society and government to host a symposium that looked at improving knowledge of the history of the tradition, and its development and future in Guyana.
Despite budget cut for various organisations that fall under the purview of the Home Affairs Ministry, the Custom Anti Narcotic Unit (CANU) has been counting its success so far for 2012, with just a few days before the year comes to an end.
In 2012, CANU made several successful cocaine and marijuana busts across the country, and has been praised for its work despite the slashing of its funds.
The agency has intercepted 100 kilograms of cocaine and 110 kilograms of cannabis up to November 2012.
This resulted in a number of persons being prosecuted, but while some pleaded not guilty and were remanded to prison awaiting their trail; there were some mules that accepted the charge and were sentenced to four years imprisonment and had to pay a Gy$30,000 fine.
In a recent Current Issues and Analysis (CIA) programme aired on Television Guyana (TVG), Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee while addressing the budget cuts, explained that as minister responsible for security in Guyana, he lays down the policies to ensure that the various departments within his ministry implement them.
He added from time to time, the minister disclosed that these policies are reviewed, but with the budget cut, it puts the various departments under pressure to perform their duties effectively.
Rohee also lashed out at the opposition, claiming that they are seeking to penalise the various departments simply because they have a problem with him as the minister.
He described the opposition’s posture as vindictive, noting that persons who work with the ministry are not politicians, but public servants who want to maintain law and order in the country.
The minister noted that despite the budget cut for CANU, some departments have done an excellent job for 2012 with the little resources at their disposal.
However, most of the cocaine that was intercepted occurred at the country’s main port of entry, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
Some of the successes of CANU include that of a security official who was attached to the Roraima Airways. The official was charged with possession of narcotics following the discovery of more than five kilograms of cocaine stitched into airline blankets. The blankets were intended to be loaded onto a Delta flight bounded for the United States.
Another major bust occurred in August when CANU and the Police Narcotics Branch (PNB) discovered 25Kg of the illicit substance before it was loaded onto a BW 526 flight destined for the John F Kennedy International Airport, USA.
The more than 50 pounds of cocaine was on a cart used to transport luggage to airlines. The frequent occurrence led to six CJIA personnel being stripped of their badges.
Again, four kilograms of the cocaine was unearthed on the baggage ramp, minutes before it was loaded onto an EZJet flight bound for the John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport, USA, in October.
The cocaine was discovered in a bag on the baggage ramp during a routine search.
Also in October, five American citizens were busted with more than two kilograms of cocaine stashed in their crotches while another American citizen was sentenced to four years imprisonment after she pleaded guilty to narcotics trafficking. The 160 grams of cocaine was found in her vagina during a pat down exercise at the facility.
In September, 30 kilograms of cocaine was unearthed in a separate bust on the same day at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. The first bust (28kg) was made by members of the CANU on board a BW 526 Caribbean Airlines flight bound for New York, while the second (two kg) was made by members of the police narcotics branch in a tractor that carries the stairs to the aircraft upon touching down.
CANU has also lent support to the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEA) of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) following the discovery of 21.6kg of cocaine in Breeze Soap Powder and 233kg of the illegal substance that was found among fish feed at the Guyana National Shipping Corporation wharf.
The agency is working with the Home Affairs Ministry, and with stakeholders to arrest the trafficking of illegal drugs.
However, in recent times, the cocaine mules have been very innovative in the trade, stashing the illegal substance in inconceivable places on their bodies and various items.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud
For 2012, Guyana has recorded historical levels of gold production by small and medium-scale producers, surpassing 416,000 ounces, resulting from increased interest in the gold mining sector as the high international price for gold remains relatively stable.
According to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud, with this level of gold production, Guyana has continued to maintain a low deforestation rate through the efforts of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) in collaboration with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), in monitoring forest and promoting better mining practices by miners, including reworking of previously ‘mined-out’ areas.
Minister Persaud, in a release, pointed out that mining at all levels, whether for bauxite, sand, loam, stone, gold or diamond, necessitates the disturbance of the flora (including the forest) and fauna in the mining area and efforts must be made to minimise environmental degradation and impacts, and maximise occupational health and safety standards.
Recognising this fact, the minister stated the GGMC, as the regulatory agency of the mining industry, enforces the Mining Act and Regulations and encourages mine operators to practise reclamation of mine sites, which usually includes re-vegetation. Reclamation of mined-out sites will definitely contribute to the overall sustainability of the mining sector.
Further, GGMC have employed an expert on mine site reclamation to coordinate all the research activities and assess the projects that were done in the past. The development of a special manual for mine site rehabilitation will be developed in 2013, and visits to sites will be initiated.
Large-scale mining in 2013
Guyana’s current annual rate of deforestation is 0.0545 per cent of forested area, which is acceptable in comparison with the other years when the production was lower, he explained.
Minister Persaud observed that the gold production target was achieved solely from the contribution of small and medium scale miners. He noted that gold production this year approached the record gold production of 456,000 ounces in 2001, when the large-scale Omai gold mine was at the height of its production (354,000 ounces).
For the second consecutive year, the gold produced by small and medium-scale operators exceeded the highest annual production of 354,000 ounces by Omai Gold Mines Limited.
The minister envisioned that the sector will continue to see an upward trend as several large companies are in advanced exploration activities to define economically feasible gold deposits with the intention to develop mines during 2013/2014.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission will continue to work closely with the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association and other relevant stakeholders to increase gold production by promoting improved technology while eliminating the use of mercury in gold recovery.
Banks Beer Knockout Cup…
Santos FC and Northern Rangers recorded contrasting victories on Sunday evening when action in the second annual Banks Beer Cup Knockout football tournament continued at the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) ground, Bourda.
While Santos thrashed the University of Guyana 12-0, Northern Rangers edged Blueberry Hill 2-1.
In the opening game, Northern Rangers ended Blueberry Hill’s campaign in the tournament with a come-from-behind win.
After a goalless first half, Blueberry Hill went into the ascendancy with a 47th minute strike from Shemroy Dover. Ten minutes later, Sherwin Vincent brought Northern Rangers level, before Jermaine Scott dictated the outcome of the game with a goal in the 77th minute.
In the feature game, Santos managed to blast in a dozen goals against a hapless UG side.
Gerald Wittington started the demolition job with a goal in the opening minute on his way to a hat-trick, netting his other two goals in the 32nd and 56th minutes. However, it was Michael
Pedro who was the lead man for Santos, blasting in a helmet-trick in the 17th, 28th, 48th and 75th minutes.
William Europe supported with a double in the 25th and 78th minutes, while Jermaine Bamfield (44th), Jermain Fraser (51st) and Lerone Charles (70th) added a single strike each.
The competition will continue this evening at the Tucville ground with another two games. Black Pearl will take on the Guyana Defence Force at 18:00 hours, while Police will tackle Netrockers at 20:00 hours.
The player auction ahead of the Indian Premier League’s sixth season will be held on February 3, 2013, it was announced Saturday.
The decision was conveyed to all nine franchise representatives during a workshop in Jodhpur. Later in the day, IPL Chief Executive Sundar Raman tweeted the news.
Though the venue for the auction is yet to be finalised, the representatives were told it would be held “in a metro”. The auction, which is likely to see 37 players going under the hammer, was earlier expected to be held on January 12. However, the IPL authorities decided not to let it clash with India’s one day series against England (from January 11- 27).
Meanwhile, besides briefing the representatives about the auction date and schedule, the workshop had the IPL organisers making various presentations related to player regulations, sponsors’ obligations, etc. It was followed by one-on-ones with each of the nine team owners.
“It was a routine exercise, similar to what has happened during the earlier workshops,” a franchise official said, preferring anonymity.
“The workshop has kind of symbolised that the new season has indeed begun. It’s time for everyone to start preparing.” (Cricinfo)
Kumar Sangakkara became the second Sri Lankan to reach the 10,000- run milestone in Tests but there was little else for Sri Lanka to celebrate on their first Boxing Day at the MCG since 1995.
A day that began with Mahela Jayawardene winning the toss and choosing to bat ended with Australia at the crease and having already nearly passed Sri Lanka’s 156, an awfully disappointing total brought about by some disappointingly awful shot selections from the Sri Lankan batsmen.
Mitchell Johnson was awkward to face, collecting three wickets and breaking the thumb of Prasanna Jayawardene; Jackson Bird was impressively consistent in his first day of Test crick et and picked up two wickets; and Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon also collected two each. Australia’s selectors must have breathed a sigh of relief at the effectiveness of the attack, after their decision to rest the Hobart match- winner Mitchell Starc due to concerns over his workload.
Not that Australia did everything right. After a strong opening partnership of 95 between David Warner and Ed Cowan, both openers and Phillip Hughes fell within the space of seven overs late in the day, leaving Sri Lanka a sliver of hope if their bowlers can do some damage on the second morning.
At stumps, Australia were 3 for 150, trailing by six runs, and they had their in- form captain Michael Clarke at the crease on 20, alongside the vice- captain Shane Watson on 13.
Clarke had been passed fit in the morning, ending speculation that the hamstring injury he picked up in Hobart would allow Watson to become Australia’s 44th Test captain, and he showed no real signs of discomfort while batting late in the day. Both men had been given lives though: Clarke put down by Tillakaratne Dilshan at silly mid- on when he chipped Rangana Herath to the leg side and Watson by the acting wicketkeeper Kumara Sangakkara, who dived to his right and grassed an edge off Chanaka Welegedara.
Sangakkara was wearing the gloves due to a hairline fracture Prasanna Jayawardene suffered while batting, and although he dropped that chance he was part of one dismissal, whipping the bails off at the striker’s end to run Phillip Hughes out for 10. Ed Cowan had worked the ball to the leg side and called Hughes through for a single, but the non- striker’s hesitation led to his demise; Dilshan mis- fielded and Hughes could comfortably have made the run had he set off immediately.
In the next over, Cowan departed with no further addition to the score, caught at second slip for 36 when he slashed at Dhammika Prasad, who had been brought in to replace Nuwan Kulasekara. Cowan and Warner had given Australia a strong start until Warner was caught at deep midwicket for 62 off the bowling of Angelo Mathews. Warner was trying to maintain the brisk pace he had set early, having raced to his half- century from 34 balls.
Warner had shown the Sri Lankans that the MCG pitch was good for batting with some crisp stroke play, finding boundaries all around the wicket.
Especially disdainful was his slap for six over long- on off the bowling of Welegedara, a shot more out of Twenty20 than Test cricket.
It was appreciated by the 67,138 spectators in the crowd, an impressive attendance that outstripped the Boxing Day numbers for the 2008 and 2009 Tests against South Africa and Pakistan. (Cricinfo)
Christmas is a time for giving and spreading joy, and first lady Deolatchmee Ramotar is well into the festive spirit of bringing happiness to hundreds of children countrywide.
Recognizing the expectations at this time of the year, and in keeping with its main objective of promoting a healthy and positive family by supporting any individual within a family, the First Lady’s Foundation, together with His Excellency President Donald Ramotar, have organised children’s Christmas parties in all three counties of Guyana.
Mrs Ramotar and other members of the foundation were joined by President Ramotar when they entertained more than 400 children from Berbice at the Albion Community Centre.
The group also treated more than 300 children from across the Essequibo Coast at the Anna Regina Multilateral School. The first lady indicated at the event that she was “very heartened to see the children having a lovely time at the party” and she called on all Guyanese to work together for the benefit of our future generations.
On December 19, more than 300 children from villages across the East Bank, East Coast and Georgetown converged on the lawns of State House where they were treated generously with goody bags, gifts, ice cream, and face painting. It was a cheerful time for both the President and First Lady to share their love with the children.
Mrs Ramotar and members of the foundation are travelling countrywide to spread the Christmas spirit to the less fortunate children. In addition, she would be making visits to children and senior citizens’ homes, hospitals and other organised gatherings to spread the joys of the season.
“I’m having such a wonderful time. Giving your time to help out or share with others in need is always a humbling experience,” she divulged.
Apart from sharing goodwill at this time of the year, the First Lady’s Foundation is involved in a number of other projects that support its goal of promoting the positive family. It is registered under the Friendly Societies Act of Guyana with oversight being provided by an eight- member committee headed by the First Lady Mrs Ramotar.
Another initiative is the Garden for the Children of Guyana Initiative, launched at the State House earlier this year. This initiative provides an opportunity for school children to get involved in not only traditional methods of cultivation, but also hydroponics and raised-bed gardening. The First Lady’s Foundation would be travelling to various schools and communities across the country to promote this project among school children as well as adults.
The foundation would also be launching a reading and literacy programme where book donations would be done to existing libraries and additional community libraries would be established to encourage reading as a form of promoting positive family values. Furthermore, another area where the foundation intends to get involved in is the provision of assistance in caring for street children.
Mrs Ramotar encourages all Guyanese to join in supporting these programmes aimed at promoting positive family values, which are crucial for the development of the social fabric of our country.
If you’re not into bright colours but want a distinct look this holiday season, Sonia Noel has the perfect outfit for you. Her chic and classy designs are perfect for any festive occasion –making a statement with these outfits comes easily.
Noel has fashionable shirts for men and stylish dresses for women. She also has contemporary fashion accessories to mix and match with any outfit. If you’re not sure how to style your wardrobe, Noel gives free advice and will help you pick out the perfect outfit and jewellery for your upcoming day or night events.
In her showroom, there is an array of other designs you will want to check out, so visit her Makin’ Style Fashion Zone page on Facebook, or call 226-3099 for more information.
By Carl E. Hazlewood
For many years, Victor Davson has been seeking a way through complexity to the visual heart of culture. This has meant finding the truth of personal experience, which for him is an aesthetic truth as well as the unavoidable truth of history. This is a difficult, rather elusive location to inhabit in creative terms, as the question becomes how to communicate such formal truth without being ensnarled by didacticisms, visual and otherwise.
Part of the answer lies in Davson’s life as a young man in what was then British Guiana. Growing up there in the 60s was an intense experience: it was a turbulent world bounded all around by the political exigency of colonialism and an ongoing struggle to forge a unifying national identity. But practically from childhood, the artist was aware that the poetical rather than political route was a natural and productive means for him to find a personal expression. He intuitively understood that art embodied nuanced forms by which he could communicate whatever it was he had to say. Davson also recognized that his engagement with art in all its cultural manifestations could not be simply theoretical; he had to be involved. In the unstable and politicised Guyana of the time, it became a psychic struggle to find a generative sphere between blood and the tragic beauty that lay all around him.
To be a good writer, poet, musician or painter requires one to keep unobstructed that “open door of consciousness.” For Davson as a young artist, what was also required was a constant intellectual engagement and dialogue with various world traditions, in order to confront his own inherent cultural multiplicity. This heterogeneity of the soul and racial body is an affective condition one takes for granted as part of the complex Caribbean experience. Davson could not ignore that dissonant heartbeat he sensed alive and pulsing underneath the smooth modern rhythm of everyday urban life.
It is at Christmas time that this metaphysical fusion and fracture makes itself most evident: masqueraders erupt into the street and costumed dancers are everywhere, scaring and delighting kids of all ages. Long-legged stilt walkers shake and stomp and stretch far into the sky, as if reaching toward some unknown God, and the sharp-horned ‘bad-cow’ masks invade private yards to dance and demand spare change.
Barely out of his teens and equipped with all the proper middle-class values, even as Davson sought a way through art to participate in the important formal issues of contemporary modernity, the exciting beat of the drums, the strange thin tunes of the pipes and the unruly landscape of the vast Guyana interior were beguiling. The paintings and drawings he produced at that point reflected the lives of people and the quotidian reality of his environment. Bearing titles such as, ‘Old Woman Wid de Weary Eyes’ and ‘Domino Players’, these works demonstrated his need to attend to the local, on the way to discovering something much more universal in a formal and expressive sense.