THE three-day Rupununi Music and Arts Festival had an auspicious start at the Rock View Lodge in the Annai community of Region 9 on Friday.
It was formally opened by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who commended the organisers for launching an event that brought performers from across the world to Guyana’s interior.
He said that tourism has been identified as a sector that can foster development by attracting overseas visitors to experience the unique flora and faunato be found here. To this end, new airlines and the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport are in train to take advantage of the new opportunities available, along with the construction of the soon to be opened Marriott Hotel, the Prime Minister said.
The fact that Guyana has been listed as one of the top 21 places to visit in 2014 by the prestigious National Geographic Traveler Magazine was also noted by him. He also took the opportunity to announce the presentation of a $5M cheque to the organisers as a show of government’s support for the inaugural event.
For Tourism Minister (ag) Irfaan Ali, the event was about being able to experience global music. “Music is one of the most beautiful forms of bringing people together, cultures together, and having humanity embracing one another.”
Minister Ali, observing the large influx of overseas guests and performers, reminded them that they could always extend their stay in what he described as the cleanest most beautiful area in Guyana. The minister also commended the organisers for initiating the programme and using local talent and skills to ensure its success.
The event was also described by Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett as a unique way to showcase the interior of Guyana to many who believe that Guyana basically starts and ends on the coastal region. It will also benefit surrounding indigenous communities, she noted, and they will learn from it.
Co-ordinator Colin Edwards said that the event was not easy to organise, and whilst he acknowledged that some mistakes may have been made inadvertently, next year’s festival would build on and improve what was described by many who attended as a wonderful event.
Edwards thanked all the entities that made it possible, such as the government, the Ministries of Tourism and Amerindian Affairs, embassies, local banks and a myriad of private sponsors.
Annai’s toshao, Mark George, also welcomed the hundreds of visitors and urged them to enjoy what he termed as, “the most beautiful part of Guyana”. He asked them to encourage others to come and experience what the community has to offer.
The performers included Marc Mathews (spoken word) and Keith Waithe (jazz & world flautist) Chuckie’ (Marlon Adams) and the Buxton Children’s group, Fusion African drumming, Raghu’s Indian Tassa drummers, Ras Camo, Indus Voices & Dance Words, Trevor Rogers, Desmond Atherly, Desmond Atiwell and the Surama Cultural Group.
International performers were Zambian Namvula, Filligar (USA), Iryna Muha (UK/Ukraine), Ramon Goose (UK), Pavel Ván? (Czech Republic), Aref Durvesh (UK),and Drew Gonsalves (Canada via Trinidad). (GINA)