The many waters and cultures of Guyana
Guyana could be described as a culturally diverse - it is filled with a multitude of ethnic groups that blend well to create the wonderful Guyanese culture. Guyanese culture is filled with elements of Amerindian, Chinese, Indian, African and European cultures.
Although Guyana is situated within the continent of South America (bordering Suriname and Venezuela), due to its British colonial history and similar cultural traditions and values, it is largely considered as part of the Caribbean.
Meaning ‘The Land of Many Waters’, Guyana is abundantly covered with rivers, lakes and creeks. The main four rivers in Guyana are the Courantyne, Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo - all of which flows from the Southern areas of the country to the Atlantic at the coast. Guyana meaning ‘Land of Many Waters’ comes from the language of the Amerindian people who reside there.
As expected, Guyanese cuisine is influenced by the cultures of the people who live there. In particular, there are strong influences from African and Indian cuisine. Some popular dishes from Guyana include:
- Pepperpot -- The national dish of Guyana
- Cassava Bread
- Cook Up Rice
- Curry and Roti
While under British rule, music was legally restricted for marginalised groups because it was believed that they caused revolts. Nevertheless, music was still embraced and celebrated within the African and Indian villages by people who were indentured.
Guyanese music encompasses a variety of musical genres and styles which stem from the various cultural groups that reside in the country. These genres include: Soca, Soul, Calypso, Chutney and Reggae. Some notable Guyanese musicians of the past and present are El Sadiek and The Sugar Cake Girls, Timeka Marshall, Steven Ramphal and Kwasi Ace.
The people of Guyana and the variety of music styles are brought together for Mashramani, also known as ‘Mash’, an annual festival held on the 23rd of February. The celebration on this day marks the “Birth of the Republic”, the day when Guyana became a republic state in 1970. The word Mashramani stems from the Amerindian language meaning ‘celebration after cooperative work’. During Mash, there are masquerade bands, extravagant float parades, steel bands and costume competitions. Mash is a festival which involves all the people in Guyana, with many travelling from all over the country to celebrate for the past 50 years.
The Culture Club Shop has a collection of products inspired by and made in Guyana. Check out the collection.