Greetings everyone


Greetings everyone

This edition has a special Guyanese flavour as it’s our 50th independence (!) in May. I’m looking forward to the celebrations, though independence doesn’t mean too much when the majority of peoples are suffering (socially and economically) and when governments in such countries are making compromising decisions (like those relating to our resources, oil, bauxite, timber etc). I don’t wish to be miserable, hence I focus on the cultural sweetness that thrills me when I think of my country of birth. That rich culture is sometimes taken for granted; not only the richness but its diversity. The different ethnicities that comprise Guyanese society are often isolated – the East Indian communities do their thing (though everyone gets involved in the Pagwah festival) and celebrating Diwali. Amerindians also do their thing but they now have a day when the country celebrates our indigenous communities. I have no idea what the Chinese do in terms of cultural celebrations!  And of course Africans do theirs – especially marked by emancipation on August 1st. Mashramani  is our largest collective festival that brings the communities together, celebrated in February when we became a Republic, under the leadership of Forbes Burnham in 1970. So it is hoped that all Guyanese recognise the beauty and quality of our cultures, share them, appreciate them and how they mobilise us to feel a part of something unique. We get how history has been rough on us but we have the power to envision things differently, progressively.

A few of us recently performed some Guyanese Kwe Kwe and folk songs which is I’ve written about in this blog post.

READ IT HERE – it’s called ‘Come To My Kwe Kwe: Keeping Guyanese Cultures Alive.

Below are some events you might support by attending or by sharing this newsletter.



Official LAUNCH of UK events

Sunday, 17 April 2016 from 15:00 to 18:00

Guyanese and friends in the United Kingdom will be commemorating 50 years of the Independence of Guyana in May this year. This Official launch of Golden Jubilee events (Guyana Gold 2016) in the United Kingdom is being hosted by the Guyana Golden Jubilee Organising Committee (UK) which was formed under the auspices of the Guyana High Commission.

The highlight of the programme is a keynote speech by the Hon Mr Carl Greenidge MP, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana who will officially launch the Guyana Gold events in the United Kingdom. Also featuring will be Guyana’s recently appointed High Commissioner to the UK, H.E. Mr Hamley Case.

The programme for the afternoon will include a small cultural presentation and socialising. This is a free event which will include a cash food and drink bar. Proceeds will go towards the hosting of other jubilee events. Please register your attendance on Eventbrite.

Details of Guyana’s Golden Jubilee events can be found on Any enquiries may be directed to:

The Royal Lounge – 397 High Road, Wembley HA9 6AA, United Kingdom


Guyanese Crest

Guyana Gold 2016 Talk Series

Monday 9 May 2016 – 6:30pm to 9:30pm
A Night in Celebration of Guyanese Cricket

Guyana is central to West indies cricket – Rohan Kanhai was made captain of the West Indies in 1973. He was followed later as captain by Clive Lloyd, Alvin Kallicharran, Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan. Join us in saluting Guyanese cricket with cricket legends Clive Lloyd CBE, Mike Atherton OBE and Professor Clem Seecharan.

Doors open from 18:30 hrs. The talks will begin at 19:00 and end at 20:30 hrs to be followed by networking until 21:30 hrs.

Produced by John Mair and Peter Ramrayka
Monday, 9 May 2016 from 18:30 to 21:30
King’s College London – Strand, London WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom
Adm: £5.00

Tuesday 10 May 2016 – 6:30pm to 9:30pm
A Night with Guyana Prize Winners

Most of the Guyana Prize for Literature winners resident in the United Kingdom will read from their work. This is the highest award a Guyanese fiction writer in Guyana or the Diaspora can achieve. They are awarded every two years.

Chair: Professor David Dabydeen

The evening will include short readings by John Agard, Maggie Harris, Grace Nichols, Elly Niland, Jan Lowe Shinebourne and Pauline Melville (tbc). They will respond to questions from the chair and the audience.

Doors open from 18:30 hrs. The readings and Q&A session will begin at 19:00 and end at 20:30 hrs to be followed by networking and book signing until 21:30 hrs.

Please note that the venue may change in response to demand.
Guyana High Commission – 3 Palace Court Bayswater Road, London W2 4LP, United Kingdom
Adm: £5.00



Keith Waithe and John Agard, Photo Eddie Osei.

Guyana Gold 2016 Talk Series Cont…

Wednesday 11 May 2016 – 6:30pm to 9:30pm
A Night with famous Guyanese

The Guyanese Diaspora in the United Kingdom is small-just c. 45,000(?) strong. Yet in the fifty years since they first arrived they have had a disproportionate influence at the highest levels – from the House of Commons and Lords to St James’ Palace to the best hospitals. How have they done it? Come and meet and hear some of the famous UK Guyanese talk about their journey.

Chair: His Excellency, Hamley Case, Guyana High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

Air Commodore David Case (by skype from Germany)

Professor David Dabydeen, Former Guyana Ambassador to China

Coleen Harris MVO DL, Former Press Secretary to the Prince of Wales

Ram John Holder, Actor, ‘Porkpie’ in Desmonds

Professor Cynthia Pine CBE, Professor of Dental Public Health, The Institute of Dentistry, Barts Hospital

Keith Waithe, Flautist, Composer and Teacher

Doors open from 18:30 hrs. The Talks will begin at 19:00 and end at 20:30 hrs to be followed by networking until 21:30 hrs.

Please note that the venue may change in response to demand.
Guyana High Commission – 3 Palace Court Bayswater Road, London W2 4LP, United Kingdom
Adm £5.00

Thursday 12 May 2016 – 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Inspiring the Youth

An evening in conversation with second and third generation Guyanese sharing their achievements and discussing opportunities for building networks in the United Kingdom and contributing to the development of Guyana and Guyanese.

The conversation will be chaired by Dr Michelle Asantewa, Educator, Author and Poet with contributions from Juliet Alexander, Media Trainer and former Television Producer and Presenter;  Mark Dalgety, Entrepreneur, Dalgety Teas; Lainy Malkani, Journalist and Director of Social History Hub; Desrie Thomson-George, Artist and co-founder of Black Ink Publishers and Jacqui Ramrayka, Sculptor.

Doors open from 18:30 hrs. The conversation will begin at 19:00 and end at 20:30 hrs to be followed by networking until 21:30 hrs.

Produced by Dr Michelle Asantewa
Guyana High Commission – 3 Palace Court Bayswater Road, London W2 4LP, United Kingdom
Adm: £5.00



Mama Lou Tales

By the age of 14, [Lucille] met a young man and fell in love. He was seven years older. He also lived on Charlotte Street, and would call out to her in playful gestures. This exchange was done in what they thought was tight secrecy from the elder cousins. The would be lovers wanted to be closer to each other and so began to sneakily meet, but were not yet intimate. Mum did well to keep this secret for so long as there was always someone watching her every move who would report back to the elder cousins what she had been up to or what they had imagined she had been doing.
One particular incident Mum talks about with no small measure of resentment was when she wanted to go to the annual school dance. To go to the dance, she needed a ticket. Her young man had bought her the ticket which she hid from Dear Aunt and Sister Euna, since they had refused to give her the full price for the cost of the ticket. A friend, Yvonne picked her up and they went to the party. But by 7 o’clock Dear Aunt came. Mum was about to go upstairs to the dance hall, when her young man called out to her.
‘Clarice, look your aunt deh.’

Dear Aunt hauled Mum out of the dance and sent her home. Another school friend, Walterine, left with her and they parted ways towards their respective homes. Dear Aunt had left to go out for the evening. Once home, Mum complained to Sister Euna that she didn’t even get a chance to enjoy herself.
‘She locking up the stable house and the horse already outside.’ Mum had heard someone saying this, but had no idea what it meant. Sister Euna saved up the reprimand and correction until Dear Aunt returned. They released lashes on my mum way into the night. Mum later learnt that this saying suggested that she was no longer a virgin; or ‘no longer had her maiden’ as Mum puts it.
Publication date: May/June 2016



Guyanese Komfa:
The Ritual Art of Trance

Extract from KOMFA – Chapter 8 – Guyanese Komfa and Obeah

Definitions about the meaning of obeah vary throughout the Caribbean and academic scholarship. Moore suggests a Twi (Ghanaian dialect) derivation from the word ‘obeye,’ in which definition, the ‘obeye’ is said to be the ‘won’ entity that witches have, something effective though invisible (1995, 142-43). Dale Bisnauth identifies ‘obeah’ with ‘obayifo’, an Akan word also meaning witch or wizard. Here, the role or obayifo contrasted with that of the okomfo (traditional Ghanaian priest). The social function of akomfo was to challenge and condemn the activities of obayifo, who were associated with ‘sasabonsam’ (the devil). Thus in Akan belief, obayifo were considered evil and they functioned merely to disturb the peace of village communities.
The identification of obeah with witchcraft and malevolence has been recently challenged by Jerome S Handler and Kenneth Bilby. They have argued that the term and thus concept of obeah:
“is more likely to have been derived from a West African term with positive or neutral referents such as practitioner, healer or herbalist – or even doctor. A number of terms, phonologically similar to obeah, exist in Igbo, Ibibio and related languages spoken in the Niger delta – Bight of Biafra region of Southeastern Nigeria”   (2012, pp.5-6)

I know that in the Yoruba Ifa tradition, for example, divination is done using the bitter kola or ‘obi.’ This position on obeah is corroborated by the way it is used it Suriname, where Ndyukas conceive of obeah (or Obiya) as a kind of enormous power that exists in the universe and which can be manipulated for good and bad.

Much of what we believe we know about obeah is directly linked to slavery and colonialism. Colonialist writings reaffirm misunderstandings, deliberate or otherwise about African derived practices in the Caribbean. It was anthropological and colonial narratives, for example that labelled African traditional spiritual practices – ‘fetish,’ and this label persists in Africa (Ghana, in relation to Akomfa)…

Publication date: May 2016



Something buried in the yard


Our drums were beating in their blood from a distant place in time and unlived memory. We understood their nervousness and it seemed the truest thing they shared. The last dying had made each of them, in their own way, revisit Ife. There was some guilt too for not doing as their Aunt Nelia had asked, what their father had promised her he would do. The debt had long detached itself from the centre of their everyday. Bess, whose seeing was fraught and fought by her sisters and young brother had tried in her simple way to remember, but being already the object of speculation from as far back as Ife, her efforts were repeatedly reviled.
‘This small thing you want to do, it cost money and who going pay?’ This was a bold feature, ever forestalling their fervent hope.
‘You?’ her sisters, Euna and Thamar, had smirked between themselves at the improbability of the notion.
‘Every skin teeth is not a laugh, we all going pay if we don’t do something,’ Bess had told them.
Their elder sister, Titty, had by this time taken up the clamorous call of her generation and vomited away the memory of the debt on the journey to England. Her over-planned return was our wilful imperative made urgent by this last dying.
Bess rose from her knees beside her bed where she had been praying. Our names she could not call for we are before her time but she called on the elder, her grandfather’s name, and she implored Ineze her grandmother too. Her father Samuel heard her pleading like a distant drumming in his heart. She called her mother too, Petromella though she had never visited her in her dream since her passing. Theirs was a relationship strained and testy long after Ife…

Publication date: May/June 2016



“Kwayana’s examination of the link between Reverend Jim Jones and the top ranks of the Guyana Government reveals that Jonestown was “a state within a state.” In his socialist utopia where whites, blacks, and brown-skin peoples could live together as equals, Jim Jones “enjoyed total freedom.” Unlike the scrutiny his church faced in the USA, the state-controlled Guyanese media were accomplices in promoting the government’s narrative. As Kwayana notes, Jim Jones “was in full control of truth. He embodied the media…” Check out full review here

Contact me if interested in purchasing a copy at – I have a few.

 Queen Nzinga

Queen Nzinga film – LAST CHANCE to SEE

Sunday 17th April 3.30pm @ Phoenix Cinema
Nzingha, an African Warrior Queen of the area now referred to as Congo/Angola, was on her throne at the time as England’s James I. This epic historical action-drama tells the astonishing true story of this female general who fought a 40 year war against slavery. The story begins in 1617, the year Nzingha’s father King Kilwanji dies. The Portuguese army takes advantage of the political confusion and invades Southern Africa so they can kidnap the population and force them to work on sugar plantations in Brazil. Princess Nzingha has to fight to gain the throne and then lead her people in a battle for national freedom.

We’re delighted to welcome Dr Michelle Asantewa for a Q&A after the film.

This event is an extension of the BFI African Odysseys programme in association with the Phoenix Cinema: Inspirational films by and about the people of Africa, from archive classics to new cinema. Explore the African roots of World Cinema through our monthly programme of Sunday screenings.
Supported by Black History
BOOK TICKETS NOW – DON’T Miss your chance to see this…


Tanna movie

Sunday 8th May, 3pm @ Phoenix Cinema; 
If you didn’t see this movie the first time it was screened at the BFI (courtesy of African Oddessy programme) do check it out. I thoroughly loved it.
Here are some of my thoughts, not had time to do proper review…

The opening scene struck magical notes that lasted the entire movie. Though the acting was not done by professionals we wouldn’t have noticed. Young Marceline (Selin) owned her part with incredible confidence. Marie Wawa and Mungau Dain’s gestures of love were endearing, their natural chemistry charmed the camera. Directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler achieved something special in independent filmmaking. The location, the structure, and collaborating with the Yakel (of Tanna Island) to do this feature showed rare (these days) integrity. The universal theme of forbidden love – captured beautifully and uniquely. The writing was superbly economical allowing the story to be experienced rather than told. Subtle, yet powerful scenes around the central feature of the live Volcano (the Yakel’s spirit mother) were mesmerizing. The magic was welcome and deserves all the acclaim.


Please share this so others who might need the vibration can attend.

for more details email: 
Cuffy Monument, leader of Berbice Uprising – they call him the ‘rebellious slave’ but he this Freedom Fighter sought independent status for enslaved Africans.
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