Community activist promoting culture and a leader for youths
BURNETTA Ann Baker has been leaving people amazed by her many skills and talents over the years, and she has been quite innovative in creating things and making the most of every situation for as long as she can remember.
Baker is a resident of Nelson Street, Mocha-Arcadia, East Bank Demerara and in her younger days worked in the Covent Garden Secondary School canteen. However, when the school had an opening for a librarian, she applied and got the job and she worked in that capacity for five years. At the same school, she actively promoted culture, taught dancing, and participated in the shows and concerts the school had during that time. Baker loved sports and was a rugby player. She also went on to broaden her horizon in terms of skills in classes in cakes, pastries and floral making at Grove Craft Centre.
Early start and inspiration
Baker told the Pepperpot Magazine that growing up, she saw how her own mother was active in the community and was always involved in community development. She related that when there was an event in the village, the women got together to plan and organise things while the men supported in other ways for it to be successful.
The community activist has long had an active spirit, adding that at age 16, she began participating in cultural events in the community to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a woman and a leader. She deeply loves promoting the cultures of the six races in Guyana and teaches dancing in all forms, including African.
A woman of many talents
Baker is also a member of the Mocha-Arcadia Rising Star Police Club, provides snacks for the children attending classes there, and is also a volunteer. She is the backbone behind the Mocha- Arcadia Pageants and would train the girls annually to participate in the event, Miss Mocha Teen. Baker is a member of the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA), would participate in African drumming and is a member of the village co-op that governs the farmlands.
She stated that she also wanted to become multi-skilled, so she did a course at the Guyana Industrial Training Centre (GITC) in welding and also went to the Guyana Technical Institute (GTI) to become a certified welder just like her father, who owned a workshop where her mother assisted.
Baker reported that her mother was a gifted craftswoman in ceramics and made beautiful pieces such as vases, cups, jugs and other things. She added that growing up in Mocha-Arcadia, her home village, she had a deep yearning to give back to society and she participated in many community-based projects. Baker also grew up in a house with music, and she developed skills as a disc jockey (DJ) and a love for karaoke. She is better known as ‘DJ Annie’ and she participated in many competitions and would “DJ” at many events. She played music for various events all across Guyana.
A new venture
Baker was enjoying doing many things, but all activities were curtailed when the pandemic hit Guyana, and she had to stay in like most people.
It was during this time she mastered the art of making home-made mango achar, all-purpose green seasoning, pickled onion and pepper sauce.
“I never knew I could make a good mango achar, but I did, and I surprised myself. It turned out good and I like doing things. I do not like to be idle, and I would use the time to create things, make things happen to be of benefit to me and my family,” she said.
During the pandemic, Baker pointed out that she was at home and knew she had to find something new to challenge her.
Just before the Pepperpot Magazine spoke to her, she had just finished preparing a bag of mangoes to make achar, which is a best-seller.
Baker stated that she makes the mango achar the traditional way, just like the old people did, with the right ingredients and does not skim on it.
As a new agro-processor, she is registered with the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) and she is one step away from having her products on the shelves at supermarkets in the country.
She participated in several seminars for agro-processors and received the training she needed to propel her small business.
Baker reported that one Sunday in every month, a Market Day is hosted under the big tree in Mocha-Arcadia, and she sells her products there and from her home.
She will be celebrating her 54th birth anniversary on February 10, and she is looking forward to it. Baker is the mother of six, four boys and two girls and has five grand-daughters.