Preserving the Guyanese Heritage

by Mrs Mildred Lowe
Guyana Chronicle
January 13, 2000

HISTORY is considered by most people to be a study of the past. However, we live history everyday as we build on the dreams, achievements and foundations of generations past. Our national inheritance for good or ill is the material with which we shape the history of tomorrow. Today I want to make two points, different in many ways but similar in others.

As part of an on-going project to record national songs for our children to learn, it has struck me how much A.J. Seymour has contributed to the lyrical literature of our country. His poems will always be in the active domain of our National Heritage each time we sing of our rivers that run or we dream of black waters or tell the story of Makonaima in the Legend of Kaieteur. He has inspired many of our composers to move the spoken word to great levels of musicianship. There is the strength and beauty of Name Poem and the sheer joy in his description of the dance where saxophone is king and the revellers its willing subjects who gyrate in wild abandon. His record-keeping of the history, geography and social life of Guyana is a delight to read and sing and will always be a living part of Guyanese history. Today as we celebrate his birth date. Guyanese can be justly proud of this son of the soil.

My second point has to do with the arrival 164 years ago of the first Chinese immigrants to Guyana. They add colour and contour to our Nation Building. There are many things I can say about this part of our Heritage, mostly historical. However their record in every field of endeavour is one of which we can be proud. The Chinese have been quietly painting in their contribution to our history. Sometimes we forget that it is taking six races to build a nation and each has equal share in the making and or breaking of this process regardless of the percentage ratio. This contribution to the arts, law, medicine, business, food, religion, community service and family life since the 12th of January 1854 is equal to the contribution given by the other five. The impact of the arrival of the first Chinese has sent strong ripples through our lives giving colour and shape to our identity as a nation.

Let us continue to give as individuals or as a group, choosing the best from our history and acts of our people to weave together this strong fabric, which makes up the Guyana mosaic.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples