JANUARY 24, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
It is reassuring to hear the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport finally admit to this nation that Mashramani celebrations in Guyana have become a mere ‘wine up’ affair.
The fact is if the PPP/C had taken the time, when it assumed the reins of government in 1992, to understand and recognize the reason behind the celebration, ‘Mash’ would not have turned out to be what Minister Frank Anthony described it as.
Those of us who are not too far removed from the history of Guyana would recall that when the PPP/C assumed political power in 1992, one of their first drastic actions contemplated was to ban Mashramani. I believe the rationale they provided for this calculated move hinged on a position held by them which says that only Afro-Guyanese participate in Mashramani, or enjoy this celebration, as a consequence they did not feel that Mash should be celebrated.
I make this point to say that very often, as leaders, our perception and attitude towards issues of a national nature is largely responsible for the success or failure of same. In this case, the PPP/C’s biased view of Mashramani resulted in that national celebration, over the last twenty years, emerging into nothing short of, according to the Minister, a ‘wine up’ activity.
The obvious question now is; who is to be blamed for disgracing this wonderful celebration? If the PPP/C and Minister Frank Anthony want to be fair to the Guyanese people they must look themselves boldly in the mirror and take the blame.
It is true that those who, from the inception, took part in Mash celebrations were primarily Afro-Guyanese. This was so, because it was the PPP which told their supporters that Mash was a celebration designed by the PNC to mark Burnham’s birthday, and that the holiday is for Afro-Guyanese.
It was this vicious propaganda promoted by the PPP which kept their supporters, largely the Indo-Guyanese segment of our society, from active participation in activities to celebrate Mash. Mashramani and its related activities, since the time of PNC government were deemed by the PPP as PNC ‘wine up’ celebration.
However, since the PPP’s attempt to take away Mash from the people failed, they were now left with the option to either promote it, like the PNC did, as a Guyanese holiday which emphasizes ‘celebration after hard work’ or continue to demonize it. Unfortunately, they began their tenure of political leadership by choosing the latter.
Mash since then, using Minister Frank Anthony’s description, became nothing but a ‘wine up’ celebration. For the past two decades, the PPP/C worked to reduce Mashramani to nothingness, now when they are confronted by the harsh realities that Mash is here to stay, it becomes even more difficult for them to convince their supporters that this holiday is truly a celebration for all Guyanese, so there is a rush to now get on track with the PNC message on Mash.
Mashramani cannot return to its glorious days by simply holding symposia and fora on Guyanese cultural forms, without first having those who manage the political affairs of our country adopt a more positive mindset towards this Guyanese holiday.
Simply put, the PPP/C must change its attitude towards Mashramani, and this change must not be one of convenience, but one which goes beyond simple partisan politics. This change of mindset can begin with the PPP/C looking their supporters in the face and saying to them, boldly, that the party’s message over the years, with regard to Mash, was wrong and served only to promote their partisan politics. Should the PPP/C fail to do this, negative connotations of Mash will continue to permeate the minds of their supporters, and this can only serve to further promote divisions, even in the celebration of our national holiday.
Further, if the PPP/C refuses to take this necessary step, Minister Frank Anthony would have lost an opportunity to ensure that Mash is returned to what it used to be, a true celebration for all Guyanese. It is time to demonstrate that we are serious in conducting the business of this nation.
Let the change begin with you!