Group Title: CARIFESTA Newspaper Clippings
Title: Topic for Today : CARIFESTA: Its Chance of Success
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Topic for Today : CARIFESTA: Its Chance of Success
Series Title: CARIFESTA Newspaper Clippings
Physical Description: Book
Creator: C., E. L.
Publisher: Sunday Advocate-News
Publication Date: 7/2/1972
Subject: Carifesta (1st : 1972 : Guyana), Festivals - Caribbean Area
Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: Barbados -- Bridgetown
Funding: Support for the development of the technical infrastructure and partner training provided by the United States Department of Education TICFIA program.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA00199665
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Holding Location: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: CARIFESTA I 1972

Full Text


Chance of Success.

A RECENT letter in this
newspaper from Mr. Elton
Mottley revealed, if nothing
else, that the wheels of Car-
ifesta promotion and organi-
sation were not turning as
smoothly as hoped, and it
might be a good idea for us
to give the event what guid-
ance we can froih this dis-
The idea is a good one,
and might well be held at
different centres every s o
many years. It might, for ex-
ample, produce a Federation
Of Caribbean Arts Councils
ivhich could take over the
idea and build it into a really
effective artistic force within
the region..
What must be avoided
above all else, with this first
get-together is any suspicion
of governmental shenanigans,
either by way of influencing
participation only by govern-
ment-accepted artists, or by
using such a Carifesta as a
bread-and-circuses display to
call attention away from
more serious problems.
Actually, in Guyana, Car-
ifesta does not appear to have
got off to-0 e very beit of
In the first place the Guy-
ana Council of Indian Organ-
isations opposed the
method of financing from the
very outset. This protest was
against the Burnham Gov-
eriment's decision to make
use of the Guyanese Indian
Immigration Fund to build a
cultural centre for the Carif-
esta functions.
Such ftnds, it was argued.
' were established in colonial
days for the benefit of the
Indians of Guyana, and the
money was then put aside by
the colonial government, and
*not. by Mr. Burnham's. If
anything, the money belonged
to the Indian community, and
should be. spent purely on
their behalf.
This is a debateable view-
point, and possibly has little
to do with what we're talk-
ing about now, but I mention
it just to show the sort of
spirit which envelops the
birth of Carifesta. This does
not bode particularly well for
its future development.
In fact, the Council has
already announced its boy-
cott of all Carifesta functions.
and, for good measure but
Pwith puzzling non-sequitur
has introduced a charge of
racial discrimination by t he
Government against I n d o-
In a recent statement to the
Press, the Council charges that
in a population consisting
of more than half Indo-
Guyanese, the members of
that conimunity hold very
few positions in the State
machine, in the Police Force
*and in the Defence Force.

To bolster its claims with
facts possibly selected -
it asserts that there are only
two Indo-Guyanese perman-
ent Secretaries out of 18, and
only two Indo-Guyanese
Heads of Departments out of
26. All, but all, employees of
the National Registration
Centre which handles the
registration of voters, are
In March this year, the
Guyana Council announced a
boycott of the Republic cele-
brations, declaring it to be a
day of mourning, not an oc-
casion to be celebrated.
It is a very great pity that
considerations of race,
whether the charges against
the Government are of sub-
stance or not, should be al-
lowed to irtetfere with the
effort now being made.
It may well be that the
decision to use the Indian
Immigration Fund was -an
unfortunate one, but the fact
is that the new cultural cen-
tre will be available for all
Guyanese, and it would be
very difficult for the Govern-
ment to find a use for tUe
Fund beneficial to Indians
It may also be that there
is substance to the charges
of racial discrimination in the
Government's employment
and economic policies, but
has there been evidence of
official discrimination in the
sphere of art and culture?
Do Indo-Guyanese cultural
institutions get no govern-
mental hand-outs, and other
associations wallow in finan-
cial generosity?
And what useful purpose
will be served by abstention?
The only result can be to
widen the schism said already
to exist. Two wrongs do not
make a right.
However, these are all con-
siderations for the Indo-Guy-

anese in Guyana and their
fellow citizens of other racial
derivation. What should con-
cern the rest of the Common-
wealth Caribbean Arts Coun-
cils and Governments is
whether Carifesta is not
merely a Roman holiday, a
panem et circenses exercise
to divert the thinking of the
populace from more serious
Certainly reports from
Guyana would indicate a cer-
tain Roman-style living on the
part of leading politicians.
Some weeks ago. an official
release told of the visit of
the Prime Minister of Guy-
ana to the interior. It related
how four horses were flown
to Matthews Ridge. where a
special stable had been built
near to the P.M.'s temporary
residence to accommodate
And it added: "Every morn-
ing after that crowds of on-
lookers attended the Prime
Minister as he took an early
ride. ." The horses were
flown back to Georgetown
after Mr. Burnham's four-day
sojourn in the wilderness
Poor and strugglir, Guy-
anese citizens are not likely
to be favourably impressed
with such a display of im-
perial living. In fact, it is
very much to be doubted that
even during the hey-day of
colonialism, any representa-
tive of the imperial power so
flaunted his superiority over
the hoi polloi.
By now, arrangements for
attendance at Carifesta must
be far advanced, and I wish
the festival well. I should ad-
vise Mr. Mottley if he goes,
and the other Barbadian par-
ticipants, all 40 of them, to
tread softly on Guyana soil
however. Everything a n th e
erstwhile Magnificen: ColorS
is not gold, however glitter-

Topic for Today

by E.L. C.

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