Indigenous Heritage Month has always been a magnificent celebration of indigenous food, fashion, pageantry, and art and craft. This year, the Ministry of the Indigenous People’s Affairs is poised to make the celebrations bigger and better with its new and improved list of events.
The celebrations are expected to showcase the rich and diverse culture of Guyana’s first inhabitants, the indigenous peoples, under the theme: ‘Preserving Indigenous Customs and Traditions’.
Indigenous Heritage Day actually came to being on September 10, 1957, when Stephen Campbell became Guyana’s first Indigenous to become a Member of Parliament. To commemorate this significant achievement for the indigenous people, Indigenous Heritage Day is celebrated on September 10 every year.
Later on in 1995, Guyana’s then Prime Minister, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, officially designated September as Indigenous Heritage Month, giving the Indigenous population a chance to showcase the splendor of their way of life. As such, the heritage celebration allows the wider Guyanese populace to experience the indigenous culture in a profound way.
Apart from the celebrations in the various villages, activities planned for this event include a heritage launch; food and craft exhibitions; cultural presentations; sports and family fun day; an inter-faith service; a fund-raising event; and reflections on the life of Stephen Campbell.
Traditionally, these activities were usually observed at the Umana Yana, but this historic site was unfortunately destroyed by fire in the midst of celebrating Indigenous Heritage Month in 2014. The rehabilitation of the Heritage Village located at the Sophia Exhibition Centre, is one of the major projects under way in preparation for this event.
This project includes the renovation of the roof and walls of the main benab, and the construction of two additional benabs in the compound.
The activities started on August 31 with the customary inter-religious service at the Heritage Village, followed by the Heritage ceremonial launch on September 1 at the Indigenous Heritage Village. There, President David Granger gave the feature address.
Below is a list of the planned heritage activities, their dates, venues and the time they are scheduled to commence:
Indigenous Heritage Activities, September 2015
- September 2 to 6: Indigenous Food and Craft Exhibition – Indigenous Heritage Village, Sophia – 10:00 am daily
- September 2 to 6: Cultural Extravagance – Indigenous Heritage Village, Sophia – 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
- September 5: Sashing of Pageant Delegates – Indigenous Heritage Village, Sophia – 8:00 pm
- September 7: Indigenous Heritage Festival and Expo opening – Castellani House, Vlissengen Road – 5:00 pm
- September 8 to 11: Indigenous Heritage Festival and Expo Art Exhibition – Castellani House, Vlissengen Road – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
- September 10: Celebrations of the Life and works of Stephen Campbell and other Notable Amerindians – Indigenous Heritage Village, Sophia (time not confirmed)
- September 11: Indigenous Heritage Fashion Show – Castellani House – 6:00 pm
- September 11: Schools Educational Lecture – Various Secondary Schools (time not confirmed)
- September 12: Heritage Village Celebration – Santa Aratak, Region Three – All Day
- September 15: Schools Educational Lecture – Various Schools (time not confirmed)
- September 18: Annual Heritage Fundraising Dinner – Indigenous Heritage Village, Sophia – 7:00 pm
- September 19 to 20: Heritage Sports Opening Ceremony and Sports – Everest Cricket Club – 9:00 am
- September 22: Schools Educational Lecture – Various Secondary Schools (time not confirmed)
- September 26: Heritage Pageant – National Cultural Centre – 8:00 pm
- September 29: Schools Educational Lecture – Various Secondary Schools (time not confirmed)