A cultural performance at the launch of Guyana’s Golden Jubilee of Independence, held on the lawns of Colgrain House, Georgetown
With thousands of overseas-based Guyanese and other visitors set to visit Guyana to join in the celebration of the country’s 50th Independence Anniversary, locals have been urged to grab hold of the opportunities, that would see their businesses and by extention, the local economy, seeing a significant boom.
This is according to Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes, who also has responsibility for tourism. She was at the time delivering the feature address at the launch of Guyana’s Golden Jubilee of Independence, held on the lawns of Colgrain House, Camp Street, Georgetown, on Tuesday evening.
“We are celebrating 50 years of independence and despite the opinions being circulated in some quarters; Guyana does indeed have a lot to celebrate,” Hughes told the huge gathering of Private Sector members and other stakeholders. She said the Ministry has been made aware of the soaring number of persons who have indicated their intention to return to Guyana to join in the significant celebration. While this is good news, she said local businesses can take hold of the numerous economic opportunities that could be had from this.
“This is the time for businesses to advertise, to expose your products and services, since so many eyes and ears are tuned to Guyana. Think of the benefits new markets in foreign countries would offer. The expansion of your business to include other products and more investments in Guyana. This is a wonderful opportunity to catapult our economy into the stratosphere,” she told the gathering.
Hughes said the Jubilee celebration is undoubtedly Guyana’s “Prime Time”. Minister Hughes advised those present to “be prepared”, noting that thousands of Guyanese and families from all over the world will be here. That, in her estimation, would mean “Thousands of mouths to feed, with thousands of feet that will walk into your business places. Thousands of people to sell your products to and thousands of people to entertain.
According to the Minister, this is what drives Guyana to get better. She said every single hotel, bread and breakfast inn and other hospitality entities in Guyana have been booked from the end of April to the beginning of June. “We have been asking homeowners in Georgetown, on the Essequibo Coast, on the East Coast, East Bank, Berbice and Linden to make their spare rooms available for visitors and the bread and breakfast programme at the Ministry”.
Tuesday evening was just a taste of what Guyana is all about and what the Jubilee festival is going to be like. According to Hughes, “It was an explosion of our country’s fine culture, our art and craft, fashion, cuisine and the absolute highlight, our music”.
The official jubilee celebration commences on the evening of May 19 as a night of spiritual upliftment. It will be a night of full colour and ceremony, a fusion of Guyanese entertainment by the religious groups locally. The second night will be dubbed “everything Guyanese”, where the six races will present some exciting performances across the regions. Guyana’s musical legends will put on a show on the third evening, including percussionists Keith Wade, Terry Gajraj, Sammy Baksh, and Dave Martins and the Trade Winds. This will be followed by amazing performances from younger artistes. Then there will be a grand fashionista by the greatest fashion gurus in Guyana.
The Minister referred to the celebration as “the best birthday bash the country has ever had”.
According to Minister Hughes, the objective is to “put on show Guyana’s diverse culture, our rich history, manmade products and musical icons, legends, artisans and artists.”
These include the 65 mile long Linden/Soesdyke Highway; the first of its kind in the Caribbean. The highway is set to undergo massive rehabilitation. The first floating bridge in the Caribbean; the Demerara Harbour Bridge – 6074 feet in length, was designed by Guyanese Captain John Coglan and was supposed to last for only 10 years. She said it has exceeded that time, and 38 years later is still serving its purpose.
According to Hughes, Guyana has also produced some outstanding Guyanese in all fields. She noted the likes of Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth; the first female Chief Justice, who was later elevated to the Caribbean Court of Justice as the first female Judge, Madam Justice Desiree Bernard; and Mohamed Shahabudeen, a Guyanese Judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the former Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, who has now taken on the post at the University of Guyana, Dr Nigel Harris.
She said former West Indies Captain Clive Lloyd was also at the helm of the one of the world’s most watched games at a time when Cricket had become a success story.
“In the field of education, Guyana has always been known to be the country with the most literate people [in the Caribbean]. In the last five years or so, students here have been doing the country proud, having out of a special niche at CXC and CSEC. Said they have been winning regional awards all across and we are proud of them,” the Minister said.