GEORGETOWN, (Guyana (GINA) -- The National Cultural Centre in Guyana came alive on Thursday night, as the Second Inter-Guiana Cultural Festival was declared open in pomp and style and with an array of cultural items showcasing the three Guianas (Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana).
The Festival is premised on the notion of building bridges of friendship among the Guianas and provides for the celebration of cultural practices among celebrants in the various countries, and allows for the interaction of cultural practitioners, administrators and those in love with and willing to learn about culture and the practices in the various countries at one celebration.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said that the auspicious launching of the Inter-Guianas Cultural Festival represents an important development in the relations among Guyana-French Guiana-and Suriname, as it widens the existing areas of cooperation and deepens the ties among the three countries, which geographically lie side by side on the shoulder of the continent of South America.
“The ties between our three nations have been constrained historically by each of us having been colonies of English, Dutch and the French Empires… though we are side by side on the north coast of South America, our links were few,” Hinds said.
He added that the great diversity of the peoples, the variations in food, dress, song and other cultural manifestations – when combined with the influences of the different colonising powers have created an intense image and fascinating mosaic.
“The Inter-Guianas Cultural Festival is a celebration of this diversity… it is an attempt to bring to the fore the priceless cultural treasures that we possess… it is an attempt to share with each other these traditions, practices and traditional resources,” Hinds said.
Suriname’s director general of culture Stanley Sidoel said Suriname, as a co-founder of the festival, is pleased that it is being staged for the second time, more so in Guyana.
“By bringing this festival together you (Guyana) are showing that they are committed to the common goal of strengthening friendly relations between the three Guianas through the development and entertainment of art and culture,” Sidoel said.
He added that he is deeply convinced that arts and culture will play a central role in the process of integration of the Guianas’ cooperation.
“The Inter- Guiana Cultural Festival is indeed a festival of the Guianas, meaning that it is our common responsibility to develop this festival as one of the ways we are proud of,” Sidoel said.
Minister of Culture Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony said that whilst the festival is relatively new, the idea of closer cooperation and collaboration among the Guianas is an old one, which language and geography have often conspired to constrain. However with renewed vigour from the countries’ peoples, there is determination to create new vistas of friendship, hope and opportunity.
He added that the Inter-Guianas Cultural Festival presents a new place which the strengths, diversity and uniqueness of the separate cultures can be shared, appreciated and enjoyed by all.
“It is a forum to exchange ideas… to teach… to learn… to reinforce each other through cross fertilisation and mutual stimulation… out of these interactions and intersections of our cultures, news forms of cultural and artistic creativity will emerge,” Anthony said.
He said that it is also the place where local cultural entrepreneurs will forge new alliances, create new products and reach new audiences. As such, it is for all these reasons and more that the gathering should celebrate the creativities of the Guianas in the performing arts, visual arts, fashion, food, and literature.
Anthony also recognised the patron of the festival E.R. Braithwaite for his outstanding contribution to the literary arts through his novel “To Sir with Love” which became the cornerstone for cutting across cultural differences.
“His work ‘To Sir with Love’ has had an impact in England when it was first published… when the film was first released its impact was further amplified around the world… this book has helped to re-shape the thinking and grace… and has helped several generations to avoid racial bigotry,” Anthony said.
Cultural representative, Regional Council of French Guiana and 4th vice president Fabienne Mathurin-Brouard said that French Guiana is proud to join both Suriname and Guyana in Georgetown at the Cultural Festival.
She added that it is in this spirit of respect and consideration that French Guiana joined in this festival, knowing that the culture of the nation is a growing and indivisible one.
“French Guiana is pleased to join you along with the artistes…to express ourselves and to share with you the things that characterise us, which are interesting elements of our cultural diversity,” Mathurin-Brouard said.
There were cultural performances from the three countries in songs, dances and drumming among others.
The Second Inter-Guiana Cultural Festival will see 50 participants each from Guyana and Suriname and 60 from French Guiana, participating in a host of cultural activities which showcase cultural diversity including exhibitions in visual and literary arts, culinary and performing arts, fashion and country nights.
The First Inter-Guiana Cultural Festival was held in Paramaribo from August 26 to 28, 2011.