Georgetown, Guyana – (May 24, 2018) Minister of Social Cohesion with the responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton, today, encouraged Guyanese to come out in their numbers to the Flag Raising Ceremony to mark the 52nd Independence Anniversary of Guyana’s Independence at Durban Park on Friday, May 25, 2018. That event will be marked by the participation of more than 2000 school children performing in a cultural presentation and parade.

Speaking at a press conference, which was held at the Boardroom of the Department of Social Cohesion, Minister Norton said that in addition to the Flag Raising Ceremony at Durban Park, Guyana will host the first ever Flag Concert and Fireworks display at Stabroek Square in downtown Georgetown. The concert will feature performances from Guyana’s leading gospel, soca, culture and reggae artistes.

The children’s rally will see participation from primary and secondary school students, the Schools Cadet Corps, the Guyana Scouts Association and the Seventh Day Adventists Pathfinders Club. Artistic Director of the Programme, Ms. Lloyda Nicholas-Garrett said that President David Granger has been integrally involved in articulating his vision for this year’s Independence celebration, which includes a focus on the nation’s youth and a celebration of national unity and our natural patrimony.

“[The President] wanted us to celebrate who we are as a people and I think that that’s important because as we grow as a nation… It is important that all of us, through whatever artistic outlet we are good at, that we become better at articulating what it means to be Guyanese. It is easy to say that… we have inherited all of our culture from elsewhere, because you know we come from so many different places, but we are here now and we are Guyanese and I think that we live our culture every day but it’s up to us now to articulate that culture more clearly and more consistently and so I am proud of all the artists who are starting to do that. The quality of your work is growing and that’s brilliant and that is something that we have to pass on to our younger people and that’s where the youth come in. The President said, “Listen, we have a lot of adults that participate in our anniversary celebrations every year, let’s get the children involved. Let’s get as many children as possible involved,” she said.

Meanwhile, Director of Culture, Ms. Tamika Boatswain, who introduced the concept for the Flag Concert, said that it aims to bring together local artists of different musical styles to celebrate our achievements and provide an opportunity to showcase local music. “Many people don’t understand what it means to be Guyanese; when we sing about Arrowhead; when we sing about our Coat of Arm, our country as a whole they really don’t understand, but music has a way of sending powerful messages to celebrate us as a people,” she said.

In addition, Administrator of the National School of Music, Mr. Andrew Tyndall said the programme is being hosted during the day to facilitate the participation of children in the event. “It’s a huge undertaking and because we have school children involved, we thought it best that the ceremony be held during the day,” he said.

Mr. Tyndall also said that as discussions moved apace for the programme, corporate companies signalled an interest in supporting the initiative. ExxonMobil Guyana Senior Director, Public and Government Affairs, Ms. Kimberly Brasington said that the company is honoured to participate in the programme. “When we heard that this year the focus was in youths and on culture and celebrating the country, we were absolutely interested… We hope that it is something that continues to foster and grow and put this focus on children and the youths of the country,” she said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Caribbean Airlines, Senior Marketing Manager, Ms. Alicia Cabrera, who said that her company readily threw its support behind the programme. “We are absolutely honoured to be here today to celebrate with you your 52ndIndependence anniversary. Last year, we were given an award just for our contribution to Guyana and I’m here to say that we are very, very committed, we love this focus on who you are as a nation. We are very, very focused on providing you, providing even the diaspora with the relevant connectivity between New York, Toronto and the rest of the world into Guyana,” she said. Ms. Cabrera also said that the airline will also be lending its support to the Independence programme being hosted by Guyanese in the United States Disapora. Banks DIH Limited is also a major sponsor for the event.

Mr. Saiku Andrews, Mr. Mortimer “Natural Black” Softleigh, Mr. Blaze Antonio and Ms. Michelle “Big Red” King, who attended the press briefing and who will be among the artists featured at the Concert, each expressed gratitude to the Government for the initiative and for giving them the opportunity to showcase their talent. Mr. Andrews, who is a gospel recording artist, said that “It’s been too long that Guyanese artists have not had the opportunity and the support, what I would say, from the Government side and to have this event that is featuring 100 percent Guyanese artists, locally born and bred, myself, Natural, Big Red it is, trust me, as an artiste, you don’t know how much my heart is pleased about this so that you guys,” he said.

The official Flag Raising ceremony will be hosted at Durban Park at 14:00hours and will conclude with the hoisting of the Golden Arrowhead at 15:00 hours. Meanwhile, the Flag Concert is scheduled to start at 22:00hours at Stabroek Square and will end at midnight with a grand fireworks display.

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