Hundreds of locals and foreigners on Saturday gathered at Pakuri, better known as St Cuthbert’s Mission, to celebrate the annual Heritage Village Day.
At the weekend celebration, Toshao Lennox Shuman, in his opening remarks, reflected on the history of the Indigenous people, as he expressed gratitude to his ancestors.
“I know there are some of us sitting here thinking why are we here, why are we recognising Indigenous peoples? … but I also put that blame on the shoulders on my ancestors. Had they not greeted Christopher Columbus in 1492 on the shores, then all of us, we would not have this kind of diversity we have in Guyana,” Shuman said.
The Toshao also extended gratitude to President David Granger for the promise of a village name change.
Toshao Shuman, in an exclusive interview with the Department of Public Information, explained that missionaries changed the name of the village.
“About a hundred and twenty-eight years ago, the missionaries landed here, and they proclaimed in the name of the majesty that this should forever be known as St Cuthbert’s Mission. But before that, it was Pakuri. It has always been Pakuri. What we are trying to do is to go back to that.”
President Granger, in his feature address, stated that he has approved the renaming of St Cuthbert’s Mission to Pakuri. “It is always a pleasure to come here and I am very glad the community has taken the initiative to engage in what I call an exercise of authentication. That is to restore the authentic name of this community to Pakuri.”
The President described the move as a valid one, “I think this exercise in authentication is a correct move, and particularly because Pakuri is a special community. Of the nine Amerindian nations in Guyana, the Lokono or the Arawaks are the largest.”
National Toshaos’ Council Chairman Joel Fredericks was enthusiastic to be involved in the celebration, as he felt it served as a bridge between the old and new generations.
“Our culture needs to be shared with the younger generation. There is a gap of this knowledge passing on to the younger generation. And you cannot change who you are. So don’t try to imitate someone who you are not. We are Indigenous people and we are the first people of Guyana.”
The all-day event saw a host of presentations from Toshao Shuman, the Regional Democratic Council of Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), the parliamentary Opposition, and a number of cultural performances from Pakurians and visitors.