Art came to find me in every aspect of my research in the Rupununi of Guyana. I studied the impact of Wildlife Clubs on the young members as well as on their communities. In my fieldwork, soaking in their exuberant drawings, songs, dances, and skits was a delightful way to understand the impact of the Clubs. My own artistic expression through songs and poetry was a way for me to cope with what I summarize as my experience with “blood, pus, pain, and death”, especially the death of 3-year-old Alianna.
Then when I returned to Ottawa to analyze my data, I made it into a ceremony: I’d smudge first, including hiawa resin I was given in Yupukari, transcribe, code, reflect on each interview, and then, as my reward, write two lines of song lyrics. These lines will be woven together as a Song based on all the interviews I did. It will be one part of the creative, engaging, and collaborative projects I’ll do to disseminate the research findings back to the communities I had the privilege to work with.
I spoke about this at uOttawa’s Creativity and Aesthetic Enrichment Symposium on Friday 26 Oct. And opened with one of my songs based on my time on the one red Road we all travel – and WAIT – on in the Rupununi. The last verse is wisdom from Elder Sydney Allicock of Surama about the imminent paving of this red dirt Road.
Rupununi Red Road
In the deep south of Guyana
Through rainforest and savannah
Winds the Red Road of destiny
Linking jewel-like communities
Strong happy people can shine
Work balanced with kari and mango wine
Its beautiful, so easy to be content
but change comes quickly with pavement
Chorus, 2x: Rupununi Red Road
Sun drenched dusty road
rain drenched washed out road
the toughest love you’ll know
They want to pave this red artery
But when we look back on history
Asphalt brings trade and medical care
But also trafficking and poaching, so beware