Loss of cultural iden­tity and Guyana Car­ni­val

Stabroek News Sunday - - LETTERS... -

Dear Ed­i­tor, Pro­fes­sor Al Creighton’s ar­ti­cle in the Sun­day Stabroek, May 20, 2018, `Guyana Car­ni­val: a new im­i­ta­tive con­trivance’ and the Stabroek News, Tues­day, May 22, 2018 news item `Im­i­ta­tion Car­ni­val puts Guyana’s tra­di­tion at risk’, were pieces which should stir Guyanese con­scious­ness. The Guyana Car­ni­val is sim­ply a car­bon copy of an event that is cel­e­brated in most Caribbean ter­ri­to­ries. It was con­cep­tu­al­ized to pri­mar­ily pro­mote tourism and while that is a noble ob­jec­tive, the re­al­ity is, this ‘fes­ti­val’ will be detri­men­tal to our mar­quee Fe­bru­ary tra­di­tion in the long term.

Like many others, I have looked on in amaze­ment at the vol­ume of en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm dis­played by the ar­chi­tects of this event and their cor­po­rate spon­sors, to pro­mote it. Why isn’t the same level of en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm ex­pended to help Mashra­mani evolve? Even be­fore read­ing Mr. Creighton’s piece, I was just baf­fled by this. It is quite sad when our premier fes­ti­val is slowly be­ing rel­e­gated by events of this na­ture.

Mashra­mani, our fes­ti­val, iden­ti­fies us, it gives us in­di­vid­u­al­ity when com­pared to other Caribbean ter­ri­to­ries. What is be­ing pro­moted as a ‘Car­ni­val’ is just a cha­rade to ad­ver­tise par­ties and shows and adds noth­ing to our al­ready rich and di­verse cul­ture. Now, I am sure we will hear the same old rhetoric after this event, such as it be­ing a re­sound­ing suc­cess, the plans to im­prove and ex­pand it, etc. Aside from be­ing eco­nom­i­cally ben­e­fi­cial, what else does it of­fer our coun­try?

Guyanese have been adopt­ing some ques­tion­able for­eign tra­di­tions over the years, most no­tably, J’ou­vert, Hal­loween and now ‘Car­ni­val’. The dan­ger with adopt­ing these tra­di­tions is that it grad­u­ally leads to a loss of cultural iden­tity. This is one of the rea­sons why coun­tries like Pak­istan, Saudi Ara­bia, Ice­land and Greece, just to name a few, don’t al­low cer­tain for­eign tra­di­tions or ac­tiv­i­ties to seep into their cul­ture.

It seems that the in­tent is for this ac­tiv­ity to be­come an an­nual one and with just two months sep­a­rat­ing Mashra­mani from the ‘Car­ni­val’ ac­tiv­ity, it will be quite in­ter­est­ing to see which event is given para­mount at­ten­tion.

I sin­cerely hope that our premier cultural fes­ti­val will not be lost to the friv­o­lous fer­vour of an im­i­ta­tion.

Yours faith­fully, Ryan Car­ryl

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