• 20 Jul, 2024

PPP Government should be embarrassed at way national icon Terry Gajraj is being badly treated

PPP Government should be embarrassed at way national icon Terry Gajraj is being badly treated

PPP Government should be embarrassed at way national icon Terry Gajraj is being badly treated

The recent article, “Terry Gajraj laments being overlooked despite decades of service to culture,” (SN, April 8, 2023) is an indictment of the PPP Government’s lack of recognition for Indian artistes, in the same manner it has refused to add “Indian” to Arrival Day, although the PNC supports that idea. The disclosures by Gajraj on Facebook and carried by the media is cause for lamentation that an Indo-Guyanese of such fame and a lifetime of service to his country has never been accorded any honour or shown respect by those on the Government side including the Ministry of Culture. Luckily, the people of Trinidad just honoured Gajraj with the “Global Icon” award. He said that he was elated, grateful, and humbled to be the first Guyanese inducted into such an elite group of Chutney Soca Legends.

Just recently, a virtual unknown, who apparently had never visited Guyana before, came and received an Honorary Doctorate from UG for appearance in a Black Panther movie. Dave Martins of “Not a Blade of Grass” fame recently received an Honorary Doctorate from UG. But Terry Gajraj – referred to as a  “Guyanese Chutney Soca Legend” of “Guyana Baboo” fame has a litany of woes about how he has been shabbily treated by the Government which tends to “poojay karay” on non-Guyanese artistes. There are YouTube videos titled, “President Irfaan Ali and Machel Montano Dancing (Oct. 4, 2022); “President Ali Joins Machel Montano on Stage” (Oct. 2, 2022); “ President Ali, Machel Montano visit ‘Girls Only’ self-defence class” (GT, Aug. 7, 2022); “President of Guyana Joins Machel on Stage at Cricket Carnival” (Loopnews.com, Oct. 2, 2022). But Gajraj, well known and well loved by the masses, and who has sung many songs to continuously promote Guyana and to highlight Indian culture, is being sidelined and shabbily treated. Who can forget songs such as, “Lilawattie,” “Black Bush Gyal,” “Champa,” “Baylay Roti,” “Aja, Aji,” and “Indian Wedding.” Gajraj who sings in English/Creolese and Hindi, also sang, “You Guyana, Dr. Cheddi Jagan Back in Power,” and other songs calling for Guyanese unity.

How about Honorary Doctorates for Terry Gajraj, and movie makers Mahadeo Shivraj, Neaz Subhan, and other outstanding Guyanese of Indian descent? President Ali’s government has not given out any national awards, continuing the trend from the Jagdeo administration, which did not give out many such awards. The PPP is aware that the PNC which gave out annual awards during its reigns have omitted deserving Indians from its awards list. Now that the PPP is in power, why is it not giving out national awards, and making sure that outstanding Indians who have been sidelined are properly recognized? Can the Government answer that question? President Ali made a special address to the nation saying he will give out “Guardians of Democracy” awards. He has not kept that promise. As the PPP goes around the country campaigning for Local Government Elections, maybe we should ask them that question.

The shabby treatment of a national icon such as Terry Gajraj who was forced to take his story to the public domain is a brickbat for the current government in Guyana. I trust that they quickly make amends.


M. Singh