By Francis Quamina Farrier
THE Guyana Ambassador to the USA and the OAS, His Excellency Dr Riyad Insanally, along with the staff of the Guyana Embassy in Washington DC, hosted scores of Guyanese and friends at a special reception to celebrate Guyana’s 50th Republic Anniversary. The event was held on Saturday, February 22 in the Grand Hall of the Americas, at the Headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), in Washington DC, which is just a stone’s throw from the White House.
Addressing the packed Hall, Guyana’s Ambassador to the USA and the OAS, Dr Riyad Insanally, stated, “Fifty years ago I had the special joy of participating in Guyana’s first Mashramani celebration, mashing in Godfrey Chin’s spectacular ‘Birth of a Nation.’ Reflecting on his boyhood thoughts at that time, the career diplomat stated, “Fifty years ago, I was taught that we were a country of enormous potential, and in the first blush of republican status, my schoolmates and I thought that the future was very bright indeed. But, as you all know, growing up has its trials and tribulations.”
Ambassador Insanally also read a message sent by His Excellency President David Granger specially for the event, which stated in part, “The Republic expresses its appreciation to the members of the diaspora for their continuing interest and contribution to national development. It will continue to engage with them on matters of national importance, recognising the integral role they play in supporting our nation’s quest to prosperity and unity.” With reference to the recent oil and gas extractions from a portion of Guyana’s offshore territory, the President’s message stated that, “The Republic will continue to expand the gains made in Education, Electricity, Health, Housing, Public Infrastructure, Public Security, Public Telecommunications and Social Protection. It will work to ensure the Good Life for all,” the president’s message concluded.
In true Guyanese celebration at such events, there were Guyanese food and drinks including the popular eight and 15-year old XM rums. Guyanese national patriotic and folk songs were also sung by the entertainers. On this occasion celebrity Guyanese singer/songwriter Courtney Noel presented some of his favourite compositions, including his ever-popular “My Golden Arrowhead” which was composed 20 years ago. The other star performer of the evening was Sista Pat, who delivered some of the best-known and loved Guyanese and Caribbean songs. She was so dynamic, and not knowing her, I had to find out more about that Guyana-born, America-based performer.
Patricia Anne Callender, professionally known as “Sista Pat,” was born at the St Joseph Mercy Hospital in Georgetown, British Guiana. Her father was Trinidadian of African heritage and her mother a Guyanese of Portuguese heritage. Although as a young child she migrated to the USA with her parents in 1960, her interest and love for the land of her birth never waned. She knows and sings all the national and folk songs of Guyana, including those she sang at the Guyana Republic Jubilee celebration in Washington DC. After over half a century, Sista Pat visited Guyana in 2018. There is so much more about this talented daughter of Guyana, that I will have to continue at another time. Patricia Anne Callender is such a fine example of the tens of thousands of Guyanese in the diaspora who continue to love and cherish their childhood memories as is stated in the Guyanese folk song, “Small Days”.