Who are Guyanese? We are a rich blend of races and cultures , a microcosm of the world.
We are from the land of six peoples – African, Amerindian, Chinese, European, Indian and Mixed Ethnic. Our Ancestors come from the four corners of the world – Africa , Asia and Europe. Our heritage is ancient. It is the world’s heritage.
We are a kaleidoscope of colours and ethnicity. Culturally, Guyanese reflect that of Europe, Africa , Asia and the indigenous Amerindians. Indian music , European and Caribbean music are played everywhere.
In the main we are followers of the three great religions of the world: Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. Churches,, Hindu temple and Mosques have a pride of place everywhere and the Christian, Hindu and Muslim festivals are usually celebrated by everyone.
Our system of government, our legal and education system and our business practises are a predominantly British. Our language is English. Our dress is western, enhanced with elements from our ethnic background.
Our food varies with our ethnicity. Over the years certain dishes , irrespective of their origins, have become mouth watering delicacies common to most Guyanese. For example – curry and rice, coconut rice, fry fish, cassava, plantain, fufoo, sweet potato, roti, daal, channa, metagee, chowmein, fry rice, hassa, gilbaaka, banga mary, saltfish chokha, baiganchokha, fry ochroe, saijan, fish and bread, chicken in the rough, potato ball, phulowrie, cassava pone, quinches, kangkee, cornpone, plantain chips, cheese roll, pine tart, saltfish cake, christmas cake, banana cake, blackeye cake, turnover, white eye, pine drink, mawby, ginger beer, custard block…….There are other popular dishes which are not eaten by Hindus and Muslims for religious reasons.
In sport, distinguished Guyanese players in the West Indies Cricket Team have included, Robert Christiani, Lance Gibbs, Rohan Kanhai,Joe Solomom, Kallicharan, Roy Fredericks, Clive Lloyd, Roger Harper, Chanderpaul and Sarwan.
We boast a high literacy rate. Our schools are reputed to be second to none in the world. Since the war a high proportion of our people have gone into the professions and into education across all disciplines.
Guyanese have great achievements to their name in the widest spectrum of human endeavour ranging from the arts and music, sport, science, the humanities, education, the professions and in international affairs.
We punch well above our weight in world affairs and at various international forums – Non-Aligned Movement, ACP, Caricom, Unasur etc. And now there is a very high percentage of Guyanese in the UK, America and Canada. The Commonwealth Secretary General was Guyanese, Sir Sridath Ramphal. Legal eagle Shahabudeen has been a judge in the International Court of Justice at the Hague. Baroness Amos PC is the current UN Under-secretary-General for humanitarian affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
We are a special people. Special, partly because of our educational, multi-ethnic and multicultural background but also because we have come from humble beginnings and we continue to make good.
During the early years of uncompromising colonial rule, the Indians, Africans and Chinese lost their languages, yet the core values of their cultures have survived , a testimony to the indomitabe nature of their humanity.
The innate survival kit in humankind, to survive , to adjust, to adapt and grow stronger, to remove obstacles and thrive in their new world has created new traditions for Guyanese to excel in various fields providing role models everyone and pride in this heritage.
Guyanese achievers inspire many. They set high benchmarks and new records. That is the stuff of achievers, the march to improve to do well, to attain excellence in what ever they do. Perhaps a significant component of Guyanese achievers’ DNA is to be found in the subliminal driving force in these stirring, uplifting and inspiring words of the Reverend Hawley Bryant’s Poem –
The Song of Guyana’s Children
Born in the land of the mighty Roraima
Land of great rivers and far stretching sea;
So like the mountain the sea and the river
Great, wide and deep in our lives would we be.
Onward, upward, may we ever go
Day by day in strength and beauty grow,
Till at length we each of us may show,
What Guyana’s sons and daughters can be.