Umana Yana – “Meeting Place of the People”
. “Umana Yana” is a Wai-Wai word meaning “Meeting place of the people”. The Umana Yana on Main Street, next to the Pegasus Hotel, is a conical palm thatched hut (benab) erected for the Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers Conference in Guyana in August 1972 as a V.I.P. Lounge and recreation centre. It is now a permanent structure and admired part of Georgetown‘s scenery, and used as an exhibition and conference centre.
The structure is 55 feet (16.78 meters) high and is made from thatched allibanna and manicole palm leaves, and wallaba posts lashed together with mukru, turu and nibbi vines. No nails were used. It was erected by a team of about sixty Wai-Wai Amerindians, one of the nine indigenous tribes of Guyana. Fashioned like the Wai-Wai benabs or shelters which are found deep in Guyana’s interior, it occupies an area of 460 square metres, making it the largest structure of its kind in Guyana.
On 26 August 1974, President Forbes Burnham unveiled the African Liberation Monument outside the benab “in memory of all of those who have struggled and continue to struggle for freedom from Human Bondage”. The monument consists of five polished Greenheart logs encased in a jasper stand on a granite boulder.