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Guyana Loses Two Cultural Icons

CaribWorldNews, BROOKLYN, NY, Fri. May 29, 2009: Two top Guyanese cultural icons have passed on within days of each other.

Top Guyanese calypsonian, Lady Guymine, born Monica Chopperfield, died in Guyana on Thursday while historian, linguist and anthropologist, Ivan Van Sertima, passed away on Wednesday, CaribWorldNews has learnt.

Chopperfield, 77, reportedly passed away Thursday morning at a Georgetown, Guyana hospital. She was rushed there Wednesday after complaining of feeling unwell, Claire Goring, of the Guyana Folk Festival, told CWNN last night.

Both Van Sertima and Chopperfield had been ill for some time now.
Van Sertima lived in New Jersey and began his more than 30-year teaching career at Rutgers as an instructor in 1972. On July 7, 1987 Van Sertima appeared before a United States Congressional committee to challenge giving credit for the discovery of America to Christopher Columbus. He is survived by a son.

Chopperfield was born in Berbice, Guyana. Her performing career started in a show produced by Zelda Martindale at the roofless Olympic Cinema on Lombard street. She would go on to become a famous balladeer and eventual calypsonian across Guyana, in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, and the United States. One of her more popular number was `Granny Fit.`

Last night, Goring remembered Lady Guymine as `one of a kind.`

`I got so close to her over the last few years. She became almost an old aunt or grandmother,` said the Brooklyn-based Guyanese community leader. `She was just the sweetest person, always had a joke about something. She was always at our events. I feel an extra sadness since when they devote their life to their art and can’t make a living from it in their old age. She gave it her all. She should have benefited a lot more from it. I am blessed I was able to know her apart from a singer. She was very pleasant and someone who just loved. I was really devastated even though we expected it given her illness. It was hard to hear and accept. She will be missed by everyone.`

Chopperfield is reportedly survived by three children. Funeral arrangements are still up in the air but the Guyana Folk Festival will be planning a memorial service to the singer. Details will be released shortly.