Guyana Cultural Association of New York delivered again

Young Bill Rogers on stage at the GCA Family Fun Day 2018, in Brooklyn, New York

By Francis Quamina Farrier

THE four annual events of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc. – the Awards Ceremony, the ‘Kwe Kwe’ Nite, the Literary Hang and the Family Fun Day, were all up to expectations. One may even say, above expectations. In his message, President of the GCA, Dr. Vibert Cambridge, stated, “This year, the Guyana Folk Festival explores Ma’iupe, the tradition of working together,” and thanked the many sponsors who have supported the Guyana Folk Festival; many of whom have done so over the years. Last week, I reported on the awards ceremony, which was the first of the four events and promised to report on the other three events this week. Well, here they are;


Gambians in the front row with Guyanese in the back row; the two cultures seemed identical as they chanted and played their pulsating Kwe Kwe songs (Photos by F.Q. Farrier)

This event is always held on the last Friday night before the annual Labour Day West Indian Carnival in Brooklyn, New York. It is also always well-attended. Most years there are some Guyanese visiting from out of state and in a few instances, Guyanese visiting from home. This year, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon was present. Also in the audience was the Guyana Consul General in New York, Barbara Atterley.

The origin of this pre-wedding ‘Kwe Kwe’ ceremony has its roots in Africa. Over the years, it has been usually held in Guyana by Guyanese of African Heritage and almost always in one of the rural villages. A reality is that on an occasion or two, there were real life fiances who were in the GCA ‘Kwe Kwe’ event. It is also known that some Guyanese weddings in the USA do have a pre-wedding ‘Kwe Kwe’ ceremony.

At this year’s GCA ‘Kwe Kwe’, there was a ground-breaking collaboration between the Guyanese ‘Kwe Kwe’ chanters and drummers and a similar group from The Gambia in West Africa. Playing the role of the bride-to-be, was one of the young female members of the Gambian group. What was surprising, or in fact, not surprising, was the way the Guyanese and Gambians fused their chanting and drumming. For someone who was not told in advance, they would have been totally unaware that the drummers were individuals from different sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The two groups readily forged into one and got the participation of the large audience who joined in singing.

This event brings Guyanese authors, poets and other intellectuals together, where literary works are read and discussed. In every case, books are on sale either by the authors themselves or their agents. This year, the book of choice was “Stepping on Cracks, Reflections on my Homeland” by Dr.

Carmen Barclay Subryan. A retired professor at Howard University, she is a native of Linden, Region 10, where the action of the book takes place. On the other side of the age range was the 23-year-old rising star Clinton Duncan, who is a playwright and actor. He spoke of his writing projects, and more importantly, his attachment to a production on Broadway. This young dramatist may likely be the first Guyanese to make it really big on Broadway in New York City. Also making presentations at the Literary Hang, were Dr. Lear Matthews, Patricia Jordon-Langford and Ronald Lammy.

Dancer Rose October-Edun on stage at the Family Fun Day

While journalists prefer to report the news, rather than to be aspects of the news, it is sometimes unavoidable to omit one’s involvement in a happening. For example, it is somewhat difficult for me to report that I was one of the presenters at this year’s GCA Literary Hang, at which I read some of my poems. However, in a way, I am reporting Farrier the poet and not Farrier the journalist. One of the poems which I read, “We Are Older Now”, was a Prize Winner at the recent poetry competition by The Guyana Annual 2018. In that position, I answered questions from members of the audience, instead of me asking the questions. That reversal of roles, which is very rare, was a good experience.
There was a minute of silence held to the honour and memory of the late Romesh Singh, a member of the Guyana Cultural Association Board of Directors who died on August 17, at age 67. Romesh who hailed from Subryanville in Georgetown resided in New Jersey, USA and was very active in the programmes of the Guyana Cultural Association, especially with literary and journalistic projects.

This very popular event brings down the curtains on the four annual events of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc. It is an open-air event at which there are varied stage performances, as well as many stalls at which Art and Craft items are on sale. There are also a number of stalls at which a wide range of food and drinks are on sale. Among the artistes entertaining the packed venue in Brooklyn this year was Young Bill Rogers. In the audience were three elected officials; Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan and New York State Senator, Guyana-born Roxanne Persaud. Also gracing the event with his awesome presence was one of the greatest test cricketers of all time, Clive Lloyd.