By Parmanand Sukhu
May 26, 2004
THIS year marks 38 years since Guyana became an independent nation and in the process began identifying itself with the rest of the world through its own national identity. Over the past 30 years Guyana's symbols of nationhood - the National Flag or the Golden Arrow Head, Coat of Arms, the National Anthem, the National Pledge and Song of the Republic have all remained unique in design and presentation.
The symbols have sought to establish this identity and have international recognition and prestige.
These emblems have also served as an inspiration to the Guyanese people towards achieving the nation's motto of "One People, One Nation, One Destiny". This is evident, especially on occasions of national significance be it cultural, religious or political, when Guyanese from a multiracial background participate in these national events.
The Golden Arrowhead, the Coat of Arms, the National Anthem, and the National Pledge were approved by the three political parties occupying seats in the House of Assembly in 1966. The parties were the People's National Congress (PNC), the People's Progressive Party (PPP) and the Untied Force (UF). The Golden Arrowhead, which was ceremoniously hoisted countrywide, was first hoisted simultaneously on Mount Ayangana and at the National Park at 12:03 am on Guyana's attainment of Independence on May 26, 1966.
The team responsible for the hoisting of the flag on Mount Ayangana's Peak was led by the Permanent Secretary in the then Ministry of Forests, Lands and Mines, Adrian Thompson, one of Guyana's mountaineering experts. Mount Ayangana, some 6,700 feet high, is found in the Pakaraima Mountain Range and is the highest mountain within the boundaries of Guyana.
The Flag was hoisted at the National Park by then Lieutenant Desmond Roberts of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
Ever since Guyana became a Republic on February 23, 1970, the Golden Arrowhead is hoisted ceremoniously each year on Mount Ayangana by members of the Guyana Defence Force on the eve of the country's Republic Anniversary.
The Golden Arrowhead is flown proudly at Guyana's diplomatic missions abroad, including the United Nations. It was designed by a young Harvard University graduate, Whitney Smith, who is now director of the World Flag Center, Florida, USA.
The National Flag has five colours with the unique design of five triangles issuing from the same base. The background of the flag is green representing the agricultural and the forested nature of Guyana. The white border represents the water and river potential of Guyana, to love one another and to work towards the happiness and prosperity of Guyana.
Guyana is located on the North Eastern shoulder of the South American continent at latitude between 1 degree and 9 degrees and longitude between 57 degrees and 61 degrees. Its area is 83 thousand square miles. Guyana is bordered by Venezuela on the West, Brazil on the South West, Suriname on the East and the Atlantic Ocean on the North.
Places of interest include Stabroek Market, made entirely of cast iron and extending into the Demerara River. The prefab building was designed in 1981 by an American named Nathaniel Mc Kay, and built at a cost of $236,000. St. George's Cathedral - it is said to be the tallest wooden building in the world. It was dedicated in 1894 and was constructed mainly of greenheart by Sir Arthur Blomfield.
City Hall was opened in 1889 and designed by Father Scoles. Promenade Gardens - originally constructed as an ornamental garden for government house. It was extended to its present proportion in 1884. The garden is laid out Victorian style.
Botanic Gardens: In 1878 American John Frederica Waby arrived here and spent 35 years landscaping one of the finest tropical gardens in this part of the world. Included into this garden is the National Zoo, which has a cross-section of most of our indigenous animals.
Umana Yana - this conical palm-thatched structure was erected by one of Guyana's indigenous peoples - the Wai Wai tribe. Members of this tribe inhabit Guyana's deep interior regions.
The Umana Yana was constructed in 1972 as a VIP lounge for the Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers' Conference. It is 55 feet high and occupies an area of 460 square meters. After it deteriorated, the Benab was reconstructed and opened on 26th May, Independence Day, 1994.
National features: Kaieteur Falls - the width of this magnificent waterfall varies from 250 feet in the dry season to 400 feet in the rainy season. It has a perpendicular drop of 741 feet. The Kaieteur Falls is twice as high as the Victoria Falls and is almost as high as Niagara Falls.
Orinduik Falls - The Ireng River on which this fall is located thunders over steps and terraces of solid Jasper. However, unlike the mighty Kaieteur, this fall is ideal for swimming and picnicking.
Potaro River - Begins at the Ayangana Mountain range in the North Rupununi Savannahs. It extends 140 miles up the Essequibo River. Located on this river are mainly water falls. The most notable are the Kaieteur and Tumatumari. A suspension bridge called Garraway Stream Bridge, as well as two islands, are also located on the Potaro River.