Guyana: African, Portuguese and Amerindian language songs should also be played

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Jan 17 14:22:25 UTC 2008

African, Portuguese and Amerindian language songs should also be played
Wednesday, January 16th 2008

  Dear Editor,

I noticed Gavin Ramnarain's letter captioned "Many songs are not as
good if sung in another language" ( 08.01.11) which is an attempt to
justify the proliferation of Indian music, sung in Hindi, on the
State's airwaves in response to Desmond Saul's letter. Ramnarain is
avoiding Saul's legitimate observation and recommendation. In the
olden days Hindi music was played to a niche audience at given times.
So too were the operas, golden oldies, and jazz music that Ramnarain
disingenuously throws in to reinforce his point. Folk or creole songs
are unique to Guyanese culture, the language derivative of the fusions
of languages of the many people who peopled the country.

Within recent years, and in increasing proportion, it has become the
trend to have Hindi music interspersed in other programmes throughout
the day. The way it is done smacks strongly of cultural domination and
contempt for the other cultures that have fused into the Guyana
culture. This is said from the position that the other races who make
up Guyana and have diverse backgrounds, do not enjoy the benefit of
having music of their historical language sung on the airwaves.

There is no Portuguese, Amerindian, African and Chinese language
songs. Yet the language of the named cultures are alive and their
music just as enjoyable as the English and Hindi. Ramnarain did not
advocate for their inclusion. Someone had to break the ice and say it
and it is good Desmond Saul did .

The radio station of Guyana is owned by the people of Guyana and as
much as Ramnarain and the government expect persons to respect and
have tolerance for the music of other languages/cultures, Ramnarain
and the government have to respect and have tolerance for Guyanese of
other historical nationalities and play music in their respective
languages for those and others to hear. This way all can benefit from
language tolerance and cultural pride, if this is the intent of the
government's Hindu music proliferation on radio.

If the radio station fails to revisit and change its policy of
dominant Hindi music, persons will continue to believe this government
is making the country an Indian state at the expense of taxpayers'
dollars, many of whom are non-Indians.

Recently there was a national show by the National Dance Company,
pictures of which were carried in our dailies, and it was hard to tell
if it was an Indian or Guyanese production. It was distinguishably
clear that the NDC or whomever choreographed that performance did it
with the sole intent of imposing an Indian culture on the Guyanese
psyche. Guyana belongs to all Guyanese and the opportunities to
showcase talents and historical language must be given equally to all

Diversity has to have a human and honest face, it cannot be one sided.
If it is one sided it gives rise to legitimizing cultural
hegemony/dominance. The State sectors have to lead the way and desist
from furthering this basis.

Yours faithfully,

Vernon T Daly

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