If it were not for the Caribbean Awards for Excellence, said Guyana vice-president Sidney Allicock, the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana, and the country itself might not be as well off as they are now. Speaking at the 2017 Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence in Georgetown on Saturday night, Allicock presented solid evidence of the Awards’ value. The ceremony was attended by Guyanese President, His Excellency Brigadier David Granger and various members of the government.
“Makushi women have a profit of over $ 3 million (US $ 15,000) for the first time,” he said, because of a joint initiative by him and Prof Suresh Narine, which saw the creation of a line of personal care products called Rupununi Essence, based on traditional Makushi herbal products.
Both men are former laureates of the ANSA Caribbean Awards (Narine, Science & Technology, 2015, and Allicock, Public & Civic Contributions, 2010), as is Annette Arjoon-Martins, an environmental activist (Public & Civic Contributions in 2008), who was also key to the project. This collaboration, and his becoming involved in public service via politics, said Allicock, were consequences of his being named a laureate in 2010.
The Awards on Saturday night at the Marriot, Georgetown, saw four new laureates inducted. They were Guyanese sculptor Winslow Craig from Guyana and conductor Kwamé Ryan from Trinidad & Tobago in Arts & Letters, Grenadian agribusiness entrepreneur Shadel Nyack Compton in Entrepreneurship, and Guyanese human rights attorney and academic, Dr Christopher Arif Bulkan in Public & Civic Contributions.
Nyack Compton, in her acceptance remarks, spoke also of the necessity of cultivating and encouraging indigenous agriculture. She praised Grenada’s government for creating an enabling environment both for agribusiness and for women. Nyack Compton is credited with restoring the fortunes of the Belmont Estate in Grenada as a centre of agro-tourism and organically certified cocoa and other produce.
Bulkan is an advocate attorney who has launched potentially paradigm altering cases in granting gender rights to the LGBT community in the region via litigation in Belize and Guyana. Ryan is an internationally famous conductor who has returned to Trinidad & Tobago to work as a musical educator, and to mentor youth. Craig is a sculptor who comes from the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana who brings the sensibilities of his community into the mainstream with wondrous works of art.
The ANSA Caribbean Awards have been in existence since 2005. They were founded by Trindadian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dr Anthony N Sabga, who passed away on May 3. The awards were and continue to be funded by the ANSA McAL Foundation in Trinidad. So far, 31 laureates in the fields of Arts & Letters, Entrepreneurship, Public & Civic Contributions, and Science & Technology have been named. It is the first awards programme of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, offering substantial prizes (TT $500,000, a citation and a medal).
Its laureates come from all the islands, and are mixed in terms of gender, ethnicity, and area of enterprise. Three members of the First Peoples have been honoured, and activists in poverty reduction, children’s rights, and indigenous and LGBT rights have been honoured alongside visual artists, novelists, filmmakers, computer and Internet pioneers, and medical researchers.
The staging of the ceremony in Guyana is the first time out of Trinidad & Tobago. It was done to honour the nine Guyanese laureates, and also to underscore ANSA McAL’s commitment to Guyana. More details are available on the website, www.ansacaribbeanawards.com, or on the awards’ Facebook page.