Several city high school students have been enlightened on the history of Mashramani by one of the festival’s founding members as they viewed a Mashramani Exhibition, at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Main Street.
Jimmy Hamilton, one of the founding members of Mashramani
The exhibition was held by Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo, wife of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo during this week. Students of Saint Stanislaus College, the Bishops’ High School, Queen’s College and the Richard Ishmael Secondary School were given a history of Mashramani by Jimmy Hamilton as they viewed the exhibition under the guidance of Mrs. Nagamootoo.
Mashramani began in the town of Linden in Region Ten following independence in 1966. Hamilton said, “… we had independence Carnival in ‘68 (1968) and we did everything, copy it from Trinidad…and this went on in ‘69. In 1970 when we were now going to become a Republic and the President of the day…said that comrades we are now going to be a Republic and I don’t want to hear that you are crowning queens and kings… that was the trigger that started Mashramani.”
An independence carnival in Mackenzie had to be turned into a Guyanese celebration. Terms such as ‘monarchy’, ‘crowning of queen’ and ‘carnival’ had to be replaced, and the search began for patriotic names.
Hamilton related that, Allan Fiedtkou who at the time worked in the geological department of the bauxite company was called in to help with
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and wife Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo, with teachers and students of the Bishops’ High School
the research project to transform the carnival into a Guyanese celebration. Fiedtkou told stories about various Amerindian cultural celebrations, one of which was Mashramani. It was a celebration which usually goes for days during a wedding, or after the end of hard labour, Hamilton explained. Hamilton said after hearing the story, the organisers felt that it was the perfect patriotic name for the celebration
After Guyana gained Republican status in February 1970, Mashramani was taken to Georgetown for the first time in 1972, and then to other parts of the country in keeping with nationalistic principles.
Queen’s College student, Joshanna Hopkinson shared her thoughts on the exhibition noting, “This is my first time at the Prime Minister’s residence. I was not aware until here that it was a heritage site, but Mrs. Nagamootoo was very welcoming to us…the exhibition was very educational, so I really enjoyed my time here.”
Another student of Queen’s College, Jehu West said that he was glad to be one of the first persons to visit this exhibition and truly appreciated the history of the Republic of Guyana’s journey to Mashramani.
Hamilton reiterated that there is no such word as Mash, rather it is Mashramani.