Dr Norton reiterates call for national unity as Harmony Village opens
By Jemima HolmesThe Main Street Avenue on Thursday was engulfed in an explosion of culture and colour as the Social Cohesion Department hosted its second annual Harmony Village which saw Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton calling for national unity and reconciliation.The Village gives businesses and other entities a platform to showcase their work and how it contributes to Guyanese livelihood and the betterment of citizens. In attendance were Government Ministries, Non-Governmental Organisations, rightsSocial Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton wears a smile as he leads the cultural paradecommissions, private businesses, craftsmen and a new addition, the sporting fraternity.Under the theme “Building partnerships, promoting community and national cohesion”, the one-day event aims to be a celebration of Guyana’s diversity and as such, unity of all Guyanese was the common message put forward by the speakers at the event.Social Cohesion Programme Coordinator Sharon Patterson shared the vision of the event, “The vision for a cohesive Guyana is one where our diversities or differences are embraced, where our conflicts are resolved, where networks and collaborating with stakeholders are strengthened, where equity is promoted and decision-making processes result in equal opportunities for all.” She disclosed that owing to the success of last year’s Village, the number of participating organisations more than doubled in 2018 from 46 to 103.While delivering the feature address, Minister Norton focused on the cultural melting pot that is Guyana. “I do formally believe that unity does not necessarily need uniformity. Unity is all about variety,” he said.The Minister encouraged all Guyanese to be conscious of our individuality and toSeveral children representing Guyana’s six ethnicities inside the Harmony Villageembrace each other regardless of our differences. “For us to be truly united as a people, we must first be cognisant and fully comfortable and aware of who we are as individuals. The key to us embracing diversity and promoting tolerance is to be proud of ourselves, our culture, to be proud of our traditions, ethnicities, religions and all things that make us who we are as individuals,” he declared.The ecstatic Minister later joined the performers of the cultural programme, as they paraded down Main Street Avenue, showcasing Guyana’s plethora of cultural traditions, clothing, songs, and dances.Decked out in their cultural wear, patrons traversed the avenue to get a glimpse of what the various entities had on display. Aside from the ethnic dishes and clothing that were exhibited, there were a number of religious organisations, Government Ministries and Non-Governmental Organisations who all took the opportunity to focus on eradicating social ills such as domestic abuse, gender-based violence and crime. Harmony Village is slated to become an annual event.