– Director of CultureThe Social Cohesion Ministry plans to “edutain” Guyanese with this year’s Mashramani costume and float parade.Director of Culture, Tamika Boatswain said there was much that the public could be educated about through the various costumes that would be displayed.Among these, she said, are ways to embrace the Government’s drive for a green state, diversification of the sugar industry and the many advantageous offshoots of Guyana’s recent oil find.The Culture Director explained, “Mash, as we knew it in the old days, used to beDirector of Culture, Tamika Boatswainsomething where we celebrated our achievements; it used to be where we addressed topical issues through the costumes. You used to have subjects such as HIV/AIDS, you had even sugar.”According to Boatswain, over the years, the country has moved away from what the celebration of Mashramani is really about. Taking into consideration the theme for this year’s celebration “Let’s Cooperate and Celebrate Republic 48”, she said “the hope is that we can get back to that place where we focus on issues that relate to us as a country and not get carried away with the image of a skimpy carnival swim piece”.The concept behind the initiative, according to Boatswain, is not to limit the creativity of designers but rather to ensure that the younger generation is not only entertained but also educated. The Department of Public Information (DPI) said she also highlighted, during an interview, that the Ministry would soon be meeting with the various designers who would be informed about what was expected come February 23.“We do not want to restrict creativity in any way, but want to encourage them to create costumes that we will be proud of and that send a message to the young people looking on that says, this is important to us,” Boatswain noted.Social Cohesion Minister with responsibility for culture, youth and sport, Dr George Norton, has also endorsed this move. The Minister underscored that Guyanese must be cognisant that Mashramani was not a carnival. “Mashramani is Guyanese branded so to speak, and I think I like the idea of using the costume as a message medium for message sending. I remember the days when agriculture was emphasised a whole lot and we can do the same still.”Mashramani is a national event, therefore, the image that Guyana displays to the rest of the world is very important, according to Minister Norton.Mashramani 2018 marks 48 years since Guyana became a republic in 1970.