• 14 Aug, 2022

Anti-Indian Apartheid in Guyana’s Folk Festival 2022

Anti-Indian Apartheid in Guyana’s Folk Festival 2022

Anti-Indian Apartheid in Guyana’s Folk Festival 2022

Apartheid is generally defined as a policy of racial segregation and political, social, and economic discrimination against an ethnic group or groups. South Africa suffered extreme racial segregation of apartheid from 1948 to 1994, and included such restrictions as where people of certain races could live or own land, what jobs they could hold, and who could and couldn't participate in government. 

But this is 2022, and apartheid against Indians and their cultural traditions still thrive in Guyana in the Caribbean in many jobs, institutions, organisations and events such as the upcoming 22nd annual Guyana Folk Festival, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Carifesta ’72 under the theme, “Carifesta@50: Reflections and Legacies.” The 2022 Guyana Folk Festival symposium (August 5 to August 7, 2022) will present and encourage a multi-dimensional examination of the first Carifesta, its significance, and its legacies.

The organizers are almost all non-Indians in this three-day, virtual, international symposium entitled "The Inaugural Caribbean Festival of Arts as Prism: 20th Century Festivals in the Multilingual Caribbean". East Indians, however, constitute the majority ethnic group in Guyana (39.9 per cent) compared to Africans (29.2 per cent). There are also people of mixed heritage (19.9 per cent) (2012 Census). The rest of the population is of European, Chinese or indigenous origin.

Over the three-day period, August 5th to August 7, 2022, this event will explore many dimensions of this significant event in the post-colonial Caribbean. There are more than 40 scheduled participants in the three-day symposium. Among them are: Jasper Adams, Lancelot Baptiste, Dr. Terrence Blackman, Errol Ross Brewster, Ave Brewster Haynes, Derek Browne

Joan Cambridge, Dudley Charles, Leslyn Clarke-Pierre, Sandra Clenem, Dr. Joanne Collins-Gonsalves, Vivienne Daniels, Errol Doris, Sr., Simone Dowding, Dexter Forte, Ray Funk

Lloyda Alicia Garrett, Gwyneth George, Mwanza Glenn, Claire Ann Goring, Stanley Greaves, Linda Griffith, Malcolm Hall, Syndrene Harris, Carl E. Hazelwood, Vidyaratha Kissoon, René Johannes Kooiker, Russel Lancaster, David Lanyi, Margaret Lawrence, Dr. Michele Luard, Taij Kumarie Moteelall & Jahajee Sisters, Dr. Rose October-Edun, Jeremy Jacob Peretz, Nadine Priam, Meagan Sylvester, Dr. Carolyn Walcott, Verna Walcott-White, Rod Westmaas and Doris Harper-Wills – almost all non-Indo-Guyanese.

The symposium organizers are Adrienne Rooney; Ramaesh J. Bhagirat-Rivera, Ph.D.; and Vibert C. Cambridge, A.A., Ph.D. The collaborators are: In Guyana: University of Guyana, Moray House Trust, and the Festival City 50th Anniversary Committee; In the Caribbean Region: The Caribbean Broadcasting Union. In the United Kingdom: Guyana Speaks. In the United States of America: The Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc., Binghamton University, Ohio University, Rice University, each representative from the various universiteis is non-Indian.

Excluded from this “national” event are Indo-Guyanese academics, performers and genres like taan classical and chutney singers, Terry Gajraj, Rajeev N. Singh, Chitra Singh, Romanee Kalicharran, Sundari,    Chandani Persaud, Prof Baytoram Ramharack, Rajiv Mohabir, Petamber Persaud, Professor Clem Seecharan, Sasenarine Persaud, Dr Seeta Shah, Khalil Rahman Ali, 

Dave Baksh, Dr Vishnu Bisram, Ravi Dev, Ryhaan Shah and Dr Tara Singh,