MDIA Professor Vibert Cambridge was awarded Guyana’s Golden Arrow of Achievement earlier this month at Investiture 2016. This prestigious event was held at Guyana’s National Cultural Center, with awards handed out by His Excellency, President David Granger. Professor Cambridge received this National Award in the Order of Service and was recognized for “dedicated involvement in contributing to the preservation of Guyanese culture in Guyana and in the diaspora.”
Professor Cambridge has worked much of his life to preserve Guyanese culture. In particular, his interests lie in the folk music of the country and the creativity of its people. From 1974 to 1980, he worked as a producer on the LP I Want to Build, which contained songs composed by the Guyana National Service. While that particular organization no longer exists, the songs that were captured have come to represent and reflect on the experience of living in Guyana following the country’s independence from British control in 1966. In addition, Cambridge worked as Programme Director of the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation in the early 1980s. In this position he founded and organized the Guyana Folk Festival, which tied together the folk traditions of multiple ethic communities under the shared experience of living in Guyana. In 2014, Cambridge published his book Musical life in Guyana: History and politics of controlling creativity. The book surveyed the political practices of the government in Guyana and the influence that those practices had on the music. It is considered to be one of the first in-depth studies of Guyanese musical life.
The announcement of the recipients for Investiture 2016 awards was made at Guyana’s celebration of its 50th anniversary since independence, which took place earlier this year. Cambridge had been a part of the planning committee for the event, and attended with Ohio University students from his own classes as well as students from Professor Eric Williams’s classes. The students had made video and multimedia projects as gifts from Ohio University to Guyana to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Guyana’s independence. It was during the raising of the flag that the award recipients were announced. “It was in the context of reaffirmation of the nation, rededication of service to the nation, and was in the presence of multiple generations,” said Cambridge. The event was streamed online so that many others, including Cambridge’s family, could witness it as well.
When speaking of his prior work towards the preservation of Guyanese culture and creativity, Cambridge noted the importance of the School of Media Arts and Studies as well as Scripps College of Communication in supporting him in his work. “Ohio University’s relationship with Guyana is more than thirty years old,” Cambridge stated, recalling the MDIA students who have gone on to study at a graduate level in Guyana, and the Guyanese students who have come to Ohio University to study at both an undergraduate and graduate level. In addition, President Granger visited OU in 1995 to speak about topics such as governance and communication in contemporary history. “There has always been a presence, and I want to thank Ohio University for its support and commitment to Guyana for the past three decades.”