With the 50th Republic Anniversary to be celebrated under the theme, “Guyana Together; Reflect, Celebrate and Transform,” a calendar of some 50 key events cutting across all Guyana’s areas of culture has been planned by the Ministry of Social Cohesion, for the country’s significant Golden Jubilee Republic Anniversary celebrations.
Speaking on Wednesday at a press conference about the events, Melissa Tucker, permanent secretary for the ministry, Melissa Tucker, explained that the Ministry is expending some $219 million for the celebration, which will culminate with the grand annual Mashramani Costume and Float Parade on February 23.
The celebration comprises events pertaining to chutney, soca, calypso, masqueraders, arts, craft, sports, religion and so much more.
Several long-standing sponsors such as Banks DIH, Ansa McAl and Republic Bank have continued their support for the celebrations, while several new sponsors and collaborators, including a number of entertainment companies, are on board for the events.
Two of the main events are set for this weekend: there are the much-talked-about two-day Youth Village, which comprises several components, and will be held at the D’Urban Park; as well as the Chutney Explosion, Duck Curry Competition and Car Show at the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora, West Coast Demerara.
Scheduled for 24 – 25 January, the Youth Village is free, running from 10:30hrs – 23:00hrs on Friday, and on Saturday running from 14:00hrs to 02:00hrs (Sunday). It will feature displays in talent and fashion aimed at showcasing up-and-coming young Guyanese. There will also be a component focused on bringing awareness to young Guyanese entrepreneurs on how they can source funding through grants and loans, as well as booths pertaining to job opportunities.
The Chutney Explosion, which begins at 12:00hrs, is free until 19:00hrs, after which time the entrance fee will be $1000; all 17 of the Chutney Monarch semi-finalists are scheduled to perform, as is renounced international chutney singer KI from Trinidad.
Planning for the Golden Jubilee Republic Anniversary has been in progress since October 2019, when an inter-Ministerial Committee was put together to ensure that a celebration befitting the milestone is organised.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton, emphasised the significance of Guyana celebrating 50 years as a republic.
He noted that one of the underlying aims of the event is to give Guyanese an appreciation for the differences between the country’s independence anniversary and republic anniversary.
“As Guyana prepares for 50 years as a republic, we are tasked to envisage an outstanding celebration highlighting the significance of this milestone. Many people do not understand the distinction between independence and our obtaining republican status. Becoming a republic was in fact more meaningful, as it signalled that we had severed ties completely with our colonisers, and was [sic] ready to embark on a path of self-determination,” Norton pointed out.
Norton stressed that the celebrations remain a non-partisan one, belonging to all Guyanese citizens who are encouraged to come out and show their support and enjoy the celebrations.
Some of the events have already began, such as the 50 days of Prayer, and several of the “Mash Pop-Up Concerts” being held across the country, whereby many of the competitors from the chutney, soca and calypso competitions get a chance to showcase themselves and build anticipation ahead of the finals in their respective competitions.
Prizes for several of the competitions have been significantly increased: the first prize in the Carib Soca Monarch competition is now $2 million, while for the Chutney and Calypso Monarch competitions, the top winners are set to pocket $1.5 million apiece.
Prize money will be given out for up to fourth place. The Junior Calypso and Soca Monarch competitions will see a mixture of monetary and other prizes, with first place walking away with $600, 000. The Chutney Dance competition has a total of $1.2 million across two categories up for grabs.
Aside from the annual Chutney, Carib Soca, Banks DIH Calypso, children’s competitions, and the costume and float parades, this year’s celebration also sees a number of additions to mark the grandeur of the momentous occasion.
A commemorative stamp from the Guyana Post Office Corporation is scheduled to be launched shortly, as is a commemorative medallion produced by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
There will be a National Film Festival at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre from January 30 – February 2; a Republic Jubilee Exhibition at the National Museum from February 3 – 28; a folk festival on February 16 at D’Urban Park; a rum and food festival on February 17 also at D’Urban Park; a jazz festival at the Theatre Guild on February 20; and a gospel concert at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on February 23.
The event’s Facebook page, “Guyana Republic Jubilee 2020,” contains the entire calendar with dates and locations.
The department has partnered with Hits and Jams promotions for two Super Concerts, one on February 13 and another on February 18.
Caribbean Airlines has also come on board, offering a five per cent discount to persons travelling to Guyana during January – February for the celebrations.
Tucker named and thanked many of the sponsors that have come on board to be a part of the massive celebrations.
“While the department has the mandate to offset the budget, it would be remiss to say it’s an important opportunity for corporate sponsors to come on board. For the jubilee celebrations we have partnerships with Hits and Jams, the University of Guyana, we have Plus One Promotions responsible for the gospel concert; Dream Team Productions hosting the jazz festival,” Tucker noted.
Mashramani Coordinator Wesley Tyndall encouraged other sponsors to come on board, noting that even though events have begun there is still time to be a part of an event.
“We encourage companies to see Mash as an opportunity to promote your brand; it’s the largest cultural festival in Guyana. The costume and float parade attract about 80,000, with an additional 40,000 – 45000 in D’Urban park, one of the largest captive audience [sic]. We will work with you to bring you on board to be part of this grand celebration and get your brand out there,” Tyndall noted.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Communications Officer for Banks DIH, Troy Peters, and Corporate Communications Officer for Ansa McAL, Treiston Joseph, noted how grateful their respective companies were to continue their support of Mashramani activities.