President David Granger: Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams; Chairman of the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region, Mr Gordon Bradford; Mayor of the town of Bartica – you don’t know how good that sounds to me – Mayor of the town of Bartica. I should have been saying that a hundred years ago; and Deputy Mayor, Ms. Kamal Persaud; members of the RDC, members of the Bartica Town Council; members of the organising committee; participants in this annual festival; members of the media; ladies and gentlemen.
As usual, it’s always good to come home. There are so many things to do. This morning I was in church at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church at Providence but I had to be here; so I had to ask the pastor to ‘talk short’, and have a brief sermon because I didn’t want to be late for Bartica. Bartica is dear to my heart; as I said, Bartica should have been a town a hundred years ago but it had to wait till a son of Bartica because President. So I couldn’t leave office without making Bartica a town. It is irreversible and non-changeable and you can look around and see the changes that a Town Council has made in two brief years. Mayor Marshall and his Deputy Kamal set out to make Bartica a clean, green and safe town and they’re well on the way to achieving that objective.
This is a model and I wish that every other town, at Mabaruma, at Lethem, at Mahdia, New Amsterdam, Linden, all of the towns, all of the capital towns in Guyana should emulate this example. Most of them have waterfronts and this is a joy to lovers, and also other people and I think they have solar lights; but this is a model. Bartica is a model and I am vindicated in making Bartica a town and in giving Bartica the name of a clean, green town.
The second thing I’d like to say is this Regatta; it is moving from being a local festival to a global festival. As the Chairman would know, every year I come to Bartica and I encourage you to see Bartica as the capital of a region that is bigger than The Netherlands- the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region and that’s a fact. So I want to see more participants from all over the region, from Paruima and Warrau, from Kaikan, from Waramadong, all coming to Bartica to make this a more massive festival, more swimming, more canoes, more boating and water sports.
I see so many green bottles and brown bottles. I don’t know what water they’re sporting with there but I hope that in years to come the planning committee will bring more participants from more districts. Every year in August, my wife and I go to the Upper Mazaruni for the most beautiful games at least ten or twelve villages would organise for themselves and I’m sure that if we capture their talent in this regatta this will be a festival that will really be unforgettable.
The third thing I’d like to mention, and my parish priest will not forgive me if I don’t, the reason for the season, the reason for being here, because today we celebrate Easter, the most sacred festival in the Christian calendar. Easter is more important than Christmas. Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus but at the same time it’s a festival for children, it’s a festival for jollification and revelry.
The Muslims have a month of Ramadan and at the end of Ramadan they have Eid and they have a great big celebration. Christians have a month of Lent and at the end of Lent they have a big celebration. I’ve already been to more than half a dozen villages sharing out kites, real kites, paper kites, not plastic kites. I’m banning plastic for environmental reasons but the purpose is to make children happy so that they will come out and celebrate. There is nowhere else in the Caribbean where children come out on Easter Monday to fly kites, like in Guyana. You go to Barbados, you go to Anguilla and Barbuda, you go to Belize and The Bahamas, the most avid kite flyers are Guyanese and we have done everything possible to help children in so many villages to celebrate Easter, to celebrate their ‘Guyaneseness’.
Everywhere I go I ask children if they’re Hindu, Muslim, or if they’re Christian or Rasatafarian and whoever is Guyanese gets a kite and I would like to continue that tradition and I’d like to congratulate the Bartica Town Council for holding this Regatta. It has been in existence for decades and I am sure that under the present municipality and for future municipalities it will continue to be a popular venue. People have come back home to be present at this Regatta.
So this is my simple message to Bartica and to Barticans: congratulations, keep coming back, keep helping to make Bartica beautiful, clean and green.
May God bless you and all God’s children say?
Hallelujah! Have a great day!