​President Granger touts sustainability of indigenous languages at launch of Heritage Month

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By Jomo Paul

Members of the Masekenari Dance Group performing at the opening ceremony of Indigenous Heritage Month 2015. [Ministry of the Presidency photo]
Members of the Masekenari Dance Group performing at the opening ceremony of Indigenous Heritage Month 2015. [Ministry of the Presidency photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – President David Granger on Tuesday evening spotlighted the need for the preservation of Indigenous Culture and Language at the launch of Amerindian Heritage Month 2015 under the theme “Preserving our Customs and Traditions.”

According to President Granger, the indigenous society still use their native language as a major part of their day to day interactions hence the preservation is vital, given that therein lies a significant part of Guyana’s culture.

However, the President pointed out that certain societal changes are making it increasingly harder for such aspects of Guyana’s culture to be preserved and passed on from generation to generation.

“Modernization and penetration by other cultures are threatening the values which our people hold dear,” said President Granger while addressing the opening ceremony at the Sophia Exhibition Centre.

The Head of State noted that language is currently a huge communication barrier between the Indigenous people and other citizens of Guyana.

“Many people in some of those villages do not speak English as their first language and they speak best in their Indigenous language…I am amazed that we all can live in a beautiful country without understanding or trying to understand the names of our rivers,” he stated.

 President David Granger, First Lady Sandra Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and his wife Mrs. Seeta Nagamootoo sampling some Indigenous wine. [Ministry of the Presidency Photo]

President David Granger, First Lady Sandra Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and his wife Mrs. Seeta Nagamootoo sampling some Indigenous wine. [Ministry of the Presidency Photo]
Mr Granger noted that while some of the Amerindian languages have been documented and made into dictionaries, two of those nine languages are yet to be documented. These two languages spoken by the Arawaks and the Patamonas, he said, will be documented and dictionaries developed.

This project will be undertaken by the now Amerindian Language Project at the University of Guyana. Further to this, the President underscored that formal training for students in Indigenous communities will include their native languages.

Adviser to the Indigenous People's Affairs Ministry, Mervyn Williams presenting President David Granger with a hammock
Adviser to the Indigenous People’s Affairs Ministry, Mervyn Williams presenting President David Granger with a hammock

He contended that it is time for all Guyanese to embrace the uniqueness of Indigenous languages as a part of Guyana’s culture.

Meanwhile, Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Sydney Allicock urged that as Amerindians celebrate Heritage Month, they reflect and understand the values that were bequeathed to them by their fore bearers.

“We are a special people and we need to be treated specially, we need to operate in a mature manner; understand the situations, understanding that life is too short to be negative…our future depends on the combinations of positive vibrations of everyone in Guyana,” said Allicock.

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