The Guyana Consulate in New York, headed by newly appointed Consulate General Michael Brotherson, hosted a limited, but high-spirited Aug. 1,
Emancipation Day observance in the Edison O. Jackson Auditorium at Medgar Evers 1638 Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn.
The first such event that saw Guyanese decked out in colorful African regalia, commenced with the pouring of libation conducted by the Funmilayo Chesney Dance Group, accompanied by drummers Olatunji Richardson and Ryan Greenidge.
The mother and daughter dancers who adopted Ghanian traditions, wearing painted faces, and dressed in wearing intricate African garb, put on an exhilarating performance to the beat of the drums and sounds of their ancestors during an Afrocentric choreography –titled “Bacongo.”
This was followed by an interpretive dance by former Alvin Ailey student Jamain Victor, who captivated the audience. He wore a tribal African costume, of feathers and loincloth, and danced with passion, making use of the floor as he traced his roots in – “Through the Ages”, an emancipation dance. Additionally, the Victory & Dance Company, a group of talented youth ladies, put on an exciting rendition of “Freedom.”
The audience that included Guyanese-heritage, NYS Senator Jabari Brisport, of the 25th Senate District, Mary A. Tang Yew consul in the Consulate General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Sherif Fraser, district manager Community Board #17 Brooklyn, and Dr. K Ramkissoon MD, FACC Cardiologist & Electrophysiology, among others, enjoyed a
Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”, that was sung by Jevanah La Rose, whose melodious voice filled the auditorium with the words – Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery – ourselves can free our minds, have no fear atomic energy ‘cause none of them can stop the time – words that transcends international barriers.
In his remarks, CG Brotherson expressed deep appreciation to members of the diaspora whom he said have selflessly contributed to making the commemoration possible. He also conveyed his delight to participate in the festivity in his capacity as “your new Consulate General.”
He said emancipation forms a profound part historic of the history of Guyana and provides an opportunity to reflect, as a nation on what was achieved since then. He said Guyana, became a melting pot of different cultures and a demographic transformation to become a culturally diverse nation as we are today.
“As we celebrate this auspicious occasion, we must remember our ancestors and their indelible contribution,” he said.
Guest speaker, Dr. Vibert Cambridge, Professor emeritus of Ohio University, during a Zoom live stream, presented a comprehensive historic overview of the journey of people of African descent, uprising, solidarity, emancipation intertwined with the history, and culture of Guyana.
Prof. Cambridge who is the curator of [email protected]: Reflections and Legacies, looked towards 2028, the bicentennial of emancipation.
Recalling it was 184 years since the end of slavery, in Guyana Ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, permanent representative of Guyana to the United Nations, honored her African Guyanese brothers and sisters on whose shoulders she says we now stand.
She recalled the Africans slaves who endured the worse crime against humanity, using their blood sweat and tears in Guyana, as they labored for free, in the most inhumane conditions for more than 200 years. She then asked for a moment of silence for those who perished.
“We must recommit to building a better Guyana for all of us,” said Ambassador Rodrigues-Birkett.
Guyanese-heritage, Senator Jabari Brisport of the 25th Senate District, reminded Guyanese of the importance of retelling their history and culture, since “it’s a duty to ‘our ancestors, and a history that makes us stronger,” he said adding that immigrants also make a community stronger.
H.E. Samuel Hinds, Ambassador of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to the United States of America, also spoke of putting the history of African slavery behind us. He called on people of African descent to take the approach of moving away from slavery by making contribution. He urged Afro-Guyanese and Africans around the world to be hopeful for the future.
The Guyana Consulate would like to express thanks to planning committee members — Joe Yussuff, Lorraine Croft-Farnell, Lourdeth Ferguson, Melnia Cortis, Jonathan Locke, Claire Patterson-Monah, Ossie Rogers, Rose October-Edun, Shakyh Safraz Bacchus, Jenny Persaud, Charles Sugrim, Ms. Abosede Hazelwood, who served as Emcee, and Patricia Jordon-Langford, who gave the vote of thanks.