MASHRAMANI (Mash) is a calendar event in Guyana that is primarily a festival of song, parades and floats depicting various aspects of Guyana, which is held every 23rd February to celebrate the country becoming a Republic in 1970.
Republic Day is a national holiday in the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana. Christopher Columbus was, reportedly, the first European to sight Guyana (An Amerindian word meaning “Land of many waters”) during his third voyage in 1498, but it was the Dutch who first established colonies here.
The British took control of the Dutch colonies during the Napoleonic Wars, creating a single colony known as British Guiana in 1831.
Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on May 26th, 1966 and declared itself a “cooperative republic” on February 23rd, 1970, abolishing its relationship with the British monarchy, but remaining a member of the Commonwealth.
Guyana is the only Anglophone South American nation.
In retrospect, and of primary importance, homage must be paid to the people who faced punitive existences and/or whose lives were martyred in the struggle for dignity and freedom for the working-class people of Guyana, especially the Enmore martyrs, whose death so moved a young and idealistic Cheddi Jagan that he vowed to dedicate his entire life to “the cause of the struggle of the Guyanese people against bondage and exploitation”. His legacy of care and love for Guyana and the Guyanese people was entrusted by the Jagans to an equally dynamic and visionary young man, Bharrat Jagdeo, whose potential for magnificent leadership they had the vision and foresight to recognise: And while there was vehement opposition to their choice on many fronts then, today the world has taken cognisance of their perspicacity at placing into the hands of a then very untested and untried young man all that they aspired for this country. Thus, while they gracefully bowed to their own mortality, they did not abandon their cause to the fates or destiny, but continued to guide and nurture the welfare of the nation to which they had dedicated their entire adult lives through the strong and visionary leadership of Bharrat Jagdeo, who has achieved international recognition for Guyana – eradicating the dark image of Jonestown from the silhouette of this nation’s identity within the international consciousness, as a passionate advocate of humanity and the earth, for which he was presented with the Champion of the Earth Award 2010 by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).
Former President, current Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, has said that we have to forget the past that has caused this nation much pain, grief, and developmental retrogression, and endeavour to carve a better and more unified country for future generations, because the past should only be used for analytic purposes: But when Guyana’s past, and present, is being re-written to make villains into heroes and vice versa by those with vested interests, then, for the edification of posterity, it is incumbent upon propagators of truth to put the dynamics into perspective and let the readers judge for themselves, instead of having persons with agendas restructure the landscape of this nation’s history, to the detriment of future generations.
The current government is led by an organisation that has been integral to carving an identity and a future for Guyana and its once very suppressed people, who did not achieve real freedom, even after having been granted the instruments of independence by Britain, until 5th October 1992 – rightfully hailed as “The Dawn of a New Era”.
The story of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is the saga of the amazing journey of Dr. Cheddi and Mrs. Janet Jagan, two dynamic and visionary persons from very diverse cultures, who merged their lives and efforts to carve, through the grindstone of adversity, a future of promise and hope for the long-suffering Guyanese people, and the men and women who joined with them at different stages of the eventful journey that is slowly but surely fructifying into making that future one of Peace, Progress, and Prosperity under the current Irfaan Ali-led administration.
In 2020, the elections imbroglio derailed the Mashramani celebrations while this year the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its deadly toll on human lives and the quality of lives worldwide; so it is judicious and imperative that celebratory events be postponed as the coronavirus protocols have to be rigidly enforced until the pandemic ceases to be a threat to lives. Nevertheless, it is inconceivable that Guyana’s Republic Day is not observed, even if in muted, less ostentatious ways, and government’s programme of events will ensure that, postponement of Mashramani celebrations notwithstanding, Guyanese will yet be able to observe the attainment of Republican status by their country.
Happy Republic Day, Guyana!