Stabroek News: Lifestyle - - Contents -

As we ap­proach Au­gust 1 and the cel­e­bra­tion of 177 years of the eman­ci­pa­tion of the en­slaved, this is­sue of Lifestyle has ‘free­dom’ as its un­der­ly­ing theme. Free­dom is more than an ab­sence of slav­ery, or a lack of con­fine­ment. It is a state of be­ing, which also in­cludes be­ing un­en­cum­bered by ad­dic­tions, prej­u­dice, hate and dis­crim­i­na­tion – neg­a­tiv­ity in gen­eral. This would safe­guard one of its fun­da­men­tal tenets – that one per­son’s free­dom to be, is not won at the risk of oth­ers los­ing theirs. This our sec­ond edi­tion of Lifestyle ex­am­ines the state of Guyanese African cul­ture, glimpses back at how eman­ci­pa­tion came about and then steps off track, so to speak, to take a nos­tal­gic look at a lo­cal land­mark – the Bourda Cricket Ground. In our cover story, Jan­nelle Wil­liams takes us to Sand­voort, West Canje, Ber­bice. A vil­lage once steeped in African cul­ture, Sand­voort has been fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle to keep it alive. Bom­barded, as it were by re­li­gion and mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, such rich tra­di­tions as its drum­ming, danc­ing, pageantry and com­mu­nal cel­e­bra­tions have been pushed aside. Vil­lagers are par­tic­u­larly peeved at the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Eman­ci­pa­tion Day cel­e­bra­tions to­day. They be­moan the fact that as el­ders move on to the great be­yond, the sto­ries and tra­di­tions are dy­ing with them, as young­sters have es­poused no in­ter­est in learn­ing about their history and keep­ing their cul­ture alive. Is Sand­voort pay­ing the ul­ti­mate price for free­dom of choice? The loss of cul­ture is also poignantly dis­played in Olu­a­toyin Wil­liams’s piece on African head wraps. Though beau­ti­fully and pro­fes­sion­ally done, the wraps are more of a fash­ion state­ment than the essence of a cul­ture. They are re­quested for cer­tain events only and thank­fully, those who re­quest them are more in­ter­ested in the way their head wraps look, than what they ought to rep­re­sent. In an his­toric piece on eman­ci­pa­tion, we learn just a bit of how hard fought for was the free­dom we now en­joy and of­ten take for granted. Although African slav­ery was abol­ished 177 years ago, it re­mains to­day the worst con­di­tion known to man. It is true that our fore­bears should never have been en­slaved in the first place. But equally true is the fact that part of be­ing free should de­mand that we re­mem­ber and hon­our their strug­gles. Cyn­thia Nel­son does this to some ex­tent in her con­tri­bu­tion, which com­pares and matches some of the dishes we en­joy not just here in Guyana, but in the wider Caribbean, with au­then­tic African cui­sine from Ghana, Kenya, Nige­ria, Su­dan and other places. Last, but not least, we are re­minded by Mark McGowan of the rich cricket history sur­round­ing the Bourda sward and the Georgetown Cricket Club. Bourda, now a shadow of its for­mer im­pos­ing glory, has been fad­ing away slowly as a re­sult of a lack of main­te­nance. Do Bourda’s for­tunes mir­ror those of the for­mer daz­zling West Indies Cricket team? En­joy read­ing these fea­tures as much as we en­joyed bring­ing them to you and later on you can join us online at to com­ment. Ch­eryl Springer


July 15, 2015

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