By Sueann Wickham

Guyana’s 57th Independence Anniversary was commemorated over the weekend with a host of unforgettable activities for revelers, all of which still took time to pay respects to the 19 lives lost in fire at the Mahdia Secondary School. Hits and Jams Entertainment notably dominated the weekend festivities with three shows along with its Soca and wine soiree that attracted an impressive crowd of both local enthusiasts and international visitors.

The HJ Genesis Band Independence Weekend activities included the pulsating StingingNettles show; the notorious Festival of Jouvert, better known as the “Stink N’ Dutty” Jouvert; the energy-infused Baderation show; and the high-octane Soca and Wine extravaganza.

The festivities kicked off with the StingingNettles show on Thursday last (May 25) at the Marriott Parking Lot. Attendees were treated to an unforgettable experience as they swayed to the infectious rhythms of sweet Soca melodies while savouring dynamic performances by the likes of Kes the Band, Rupee, and talented local artistes like Timeka Marshall. Undeterred by the downpour of rain just after midnight, partygoers continued to revel, refusing to let anything dampen their spirits.

On Friday, the National Park was transformed into a vibrant playground as thousands thronged to join the revelry of the Stink N’ Dutty Jouvert. This unforgettable event combined stationary partying with a pulsating moving jouvert that allowed participants to fete behind music-laden trucks. Though a few fights were initiated, Hits and Jams Entertainment, in collaboration with the Guyana Police Force, swiftly brought those incidents under control.

On Saturday, the National Stadium was packed with patrons anticipating the return of dancehall superstar Alkaline and other artistes like Byron Messiah and Jada Kingdom. They all delivered energetic performances that sent the crowd into frenzy. Attendees were also quite stunned with HJ’s efficient coordination of this particular event, as it saw no major brawls.

Yesterday, the grand finale of this four-day celebration, Soca and Wine, was hosted at the Marriott Parking Lot while embracing the captivating theme of “Neon City”. It was a chic affair with a kaleidoscope of vibrant and fashionable attire. Patrons initially complained about “hot wine” being served at the event. However, management quickly fixed the issue to deliver on its promise of an unforgettable experience.

It is important to note that throughout each event, the artistes on stage took key moments to pay tribute through songs or moments of silence for the 19 lives lost in the Mahdia School Dorm fire. It served as a solemn reminder that amidst the chaos, our collective compassion must never waver. It was also reported by Kaieteur News that the organizers intend to donate a portion of the proceeds to the families of the Mahdia tragedy.

The 19 departed souls were also remembered during the Independence activities held by the government. The annual flag-raising ceremony which was held in Lethem at the Tabatinga Sports Complex served as an evening of prayer and reflection.

While there, President Ali expressed confidence that his country will use this period of great loss as an opportunity for unity, compassion, and positive change.


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