KAIE – the journal :1965 - 1985 Preserving our literary heritage
By Petamber Persaud
Guyana Chronicle
July 16, 2006

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THE editor of KAIE, Celeste Dolphin, in the first sentence of her first editorial, said that that new publication will ‘evoke a number of associations’.

In the first place, KAIE is the abbreviation of Kaieteur, the mighty waterfall that is a legendary signature of Guyana.

In the second place, KAIE is a reminder of the hero and his nationalistic sacrifice in the ‘Legend of Kaieteur’.

The editor claimed the word has the merit of being ‘short, evocative and distinctively Guyanese’. Indeed, for the twenty years of its existence, KAIE was a buzz word in Guyana in respect to the country’s arts, music and literature.

That apart, KAIE was also associated with several stages in the development of our literary heritage and cultural patrimony.

The associations referred to by the editor were for the most part very good because at that time there was a flowering of arts, literature and culture. For instance, they included reports on literary competitions organised by the National History and Arts Council and the A. J. Seymour Lyrical Prize. There were reports on the Caribbean Writers and Artists Conferences held in Guyana in 1966 and 1970. KAIE contains some of the better articles on culture written by Martin Carter and Cheddi Jagan, on poetry by Carter and Seymour, on theatre by Frank Pilgrim and Francis Quamina Farrier, on music by Bill Pilgrim, George Noel and Rita Coore, on folklore by John and Angela Rickford and Richard Allsopp, among other jewels in our history.

KAIE was associated with the establishment of the National History and Culture in 1965 as its mouthpiece. That body evolved from the National History and Culture Council which was formed in 1963 to supersede and encompass the National History and Culture Committee, the National Arts Council and the Historical Monuments Committee.

N. E. Cameron, in his article, a retrospect on culture, in the first issue of KAIE, claimed that the National History and Arts Council may have had its genesis in the Union of Cultural Clubs which was an umbrella body of numerous organisations concerning the arts, the history, the literature and the culture of Guyana.

The first issue of KAIE was associated with the celebration of the History and Culture Week 1965, straightway fulfilling one of its mandates – to elicit national pride. The History and Culture Week was an annual festival designed to foster a Guyanese consciousness.

On the matter of Guyanese consciousness and national pride, KAIE was associated with the country’s independence, tasked with recording and enshrining our growing cultural tradition and more importantly to pass on that knowledge to all Guyanese, especially the young. KAIE was also associated with attainment of Republic status, tasked with promoting the cultural heritage of the country.

KAIE was associated in a number of ways with KYK-OVER-AL. Firstly, it bridged the period and took up the slack when the latter journal went dormant in 1961 and when it was resuscitated in 1984. Secondly, KAIE had at its helm the indefatigable A. J. Seymour who was the editor/co-founder of KYK-OVER-AL. And thirdly, KAIE took on a regional outlook in order to cover various staging of the Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) in other parts of the Caribbean.

KAIE was associated with many commendable objectives. One such was to draw attention to valuable out of print books like the works of P. H. Daly and Peter Ruhoman in such a way as to elicit a demand for the reprinting of such works.

KAIE boasted an important association with Broadcasts to Schools for the journal facilitated the printing in book form many of those oral presentations including ‘Introduction to Guyanese writing’ and ‘Looking at Poetry’.

KAIE also suffered the fate of many other periodicals in Guyana – the challenges of survival.

One of the greatest strengths of KAIE was its association with Guyanese writers and their work. Some of our better poets and fiction writers were nurtured in KAIE, namely John Agard, Shana Yardan, Mahadai Das, Wordsworth McAndrew, Cyril Dabydeen, Evadne D’Oliveira, Cleveland Hamilton, Ivan Forrester, Doris Haper-Wills, Sheik Sadeek, Nalo Hopkinson, Janice Shinebourne, among others.

Indeed, during that significant period of our history, 1965 – 1985, KAIE was associated with the better aspects of Guyanese literary heritage and cultural patrimony. Indeed, the amount of and quality of information imprisoned within the covers KAIE ought to be released in a resuscitation of the journal.