Biography / Artist statement
Established in January 2017 as an initiative to bring together the Guyanese diaspora, Guyana SPEAKS runs a programme of events at the Classic in Tooting Bec (nearly always) on the last Sunday of each month.
The ageing generation of Guyanese who migrated to Britain in the 1950s, 60s and 70s have held onto their cultural roots and shared experiences. Many, however, fear that young British-born Guyanese lack an awareness of and ties to their homeland, and that this negatively impacts their sense of identity. Their (re)engagement with Guyana could positively impact their, and its, future development.
Returning to the UK in 2015, having made Guyana their home for the previous two years, Dr. Juanita Cox and Rod Westmaas came to the realisation that Guyana and Guyanese diasporans needed a public platform in London– Guyana ‘needed to speak.’
Each month the Guyana SPEAKS team choose a Guyana-related topic – from art, music and poetry to ecotourism, colonial history, the sugar industry and the discovery of oil – and invite three or more distinguished guests to explore the topic from their particular perspective.
In order to encourage conversation with Guyanese from across the diaspora, one of the guests normally joins via Skype from a country other than England (typically Guyana, the US, or Canada). Time is also allocated at the end of the programme to 'liming': eating, drink and networking. The aim? To stimulate, inform, inspire.