Nourishing odyssey

Dear Lizzie,

Back from odyssey thru d ancient Americas, found source of luck of d Irish. Knowledge of 1000s of varieties of corn n potatoes, developed by Incas, and millennia-old methods of use n prep devised by Mayans r now stored on my hips – intangible heritage evolved into tangible proportions. Letters To Lizzie back on track. 2 b released soon. Order now! More …
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Lagahoo Tribute: To Independent Spirits. RIP LPP

Louis Homer met me at the gate to the church where his funeral service was in progress against the backdrop of the island’s oldest natural monument – Naparima Hill.
“Whey you doing out here, Louis?” I was about to ask, “shouldn’t you be in there?”
He wore his normal cheeky twinkle, as if to say, ‘You were always somewhere else when I did my field visits, but I knew you would come today. I have to go back inside now. Over to you.’
An immediate rebutt was already on my lips: ‘Whey yuh chain?’ He would understand that I meant the paraphernalia folkloric lagahoos are reputed to drag in the afterlife, since he had now migrated to the other side. Picong was always part of our discourse.
Inside the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church on Harris Promenade, San Fernando, a bouquet of red roses draped a coffin in which Louis’ body was being prepared for send off. Eulogists were recalling his life, his incessant energy, his annoying persistence, his long list of interests and skills, his relentless spirit, his passion for history and heritage.
The usher to his funeral service at the church door invited me to sign the condolence book which had one dotted line for memories of Louis. Louis and I were colleagues in two areas: journalism and heritage, and then some. Journalists may not be the most liked of persons; chroniclers of history are perhaps more appreciated especially by the direct communities they touch. Our society finds a way to isolate each sentiment and express its love or dis-love accordingly. The not-too-packed church reflected this ambivalence.
I looked around for the man who met me at the gate but he was nowhere in sight. It couldn’t have been Louis. Louis would never allow me, nor anyone else, the last word. On the Tourism Heritage Committee, everyone else had to compete with Louis for air time. His last words to me were: “is now you and Eintou (Springer).” It took me a while to realise he was referring to our contributions on the committee – we were two of the most vocal and he annoyingly unceremoniously cut into anything one was trying to say. That was at the meeting that preceded the most recent one which was the day when his heart failed.
It brought back another heart failure two years earlier, and the sound of the dull thud as the body fell from the chair to the floor, her words echoing with the thud, ‘I am tired. I have no more words.’
Pat Bishop’s heart gave up at the emotive meeting of the Expert Committee on Culture and Heritage met at the Twin Towers. Two days earlier she had echoed similar sentiments when she, along with Peter Minshall, Jackie Hinkson, Hans Hanomansingh and a couple others met in lagahoo session with me at the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO. Our blue print for propelling culture and heritage into viable creative industries, drawn from demonstrated successes and knowledge and understanding of the sector, were being stymied by myopic interpretations. They wanted to brainstorm a strategy for the meeting carded two days away that would transform the thinking of those charged as change agents but still steeped in old outlooks and older bad habits.
A Highway to Nowhere
I had grown up in South Trinidad, I told Peter Harris, in our last conversation. I fully lived the daily frustrations of waiting for hours for a taxi, or any vehicle for the matter out of my village because vehicles refused to come through the unkempt, potholed roads.
As a cub reporter just cutting my journalistic tooth in South Trinidad, my duties were the vague ‘covering the South’ – which the deskbound north editors saw as a dot on the map so I still have the first freelancer’s monthly pay check of TT$120 (no, there is no missing zeros there!) which my mom and sister, to their horror, had to supplement for several mre months, despite the fact that I was out of school and now a ‘working woman’ as it didn’t even cover even travel expenses, much less any other expenses.
Covering the South meant traversing the entire southern peninsula, for the most parts inaccessible. Drivers just would not risk the damages to their vehicles to enter a district in flood prone Penal/Barrackpore, the precarious pitch-growing paths of La Brea districts or dirt tracks of other districts in San Francique, Siparia. No one can deny what new transit networks could do to lift access and opportunities to the South.
But does it have to be done by razing of the assets that present the most potential for any success at diversification we may have if we were to break through into the new golden economies – culture, heritage, tourism, agriculture – the renewable industries that would endure long after the oil dried up? What a golden opportunity we have to demonstrated how the some 200 years of industrial 

Image from: http://www.discovertnt.com/userfiles/image/maps/Trinidad/south_09.jpg

development of the district could coincide with exploration in other dimensions – to help us complete the story of our civilisation. How could the planners even fathom the potential when the bases of their planning were still steeped in economics of convenience – tourism seen as cruise shipping; heritage as flag waving; a highway to who knows where.
It was a long conversation. Peter and I discussed some of the many options that were available – that would allow the rural south to have its access routes and the communities to have the assets by which they could grow localised self-initiated, self-supported endeavours that spring from their own talents, and skills and fill the development that the oil and gas and other industries in the area have never been able to.
But as in every other area as we have been witnessing in national life, it is an inconvenient truth that even the greatest advocates of change are nervous of shifting hardened stances. That inflexibility does not only exist in the public service. It is part of our culture. Changing the mindset, transforming orientation and outlooks, should form a substantive part of national budgets if such budgets envisioned change.
As much as the need for diversification is recognised, the baby steps taken to move in that direction becomes only rhetoric to the potential of these unrecognised assets that could ricochet diversification beyond expectations in productive activities that will allow individuals and communities to draw on their own resourcefulness, talents and skills with fulfilling self-sustained livelihoods which exist among us in abundance. Some still cling to the antiquated vision of our grandsires for their children to be doctors and lawyers (as if we really need more lawyers, though perhaps I would haveto eat those words by the end of this article!)
As Keshorn and more recently Jehue have articulated, our young are not as dazzled with escaping to foreign as previous generations were, especially, too, as opportunities abroad are already experiencing global warming, as they are, and drying up. Most youths around me give no thought to migrating and several abroad I know want to return; many would like to be able to stay here and build their lives with opportunities that can fulfil their intelligence and qualifications, not in hyped up exaggerated employment figures that mask underemployment that leave many in the population with a restless, unfulfilled, nervousness. As with Keshorn and Jehue, when they succeed we expect them to embrace heaps of accolades and goodies that they could have done better with in their years of struggle to success.
It is easy to tout change; it is more difficult to effect change, particularly as it requires changes in one’s own outlook in the first instance.
Planners dazzled by the flames of production of petroleum and its by products as the key drivers of economy, tout diversification, while pursuing actions that could destroying the very bases by which we may be able to achieve such diversification – invaluable, irreplaceable natural and cultural assets of the South Trinidad. Naparima Hill stands a living testimony to that.
The bulldozers of the road pavers could in seconds destroy millennia of valuable evidence of our prehistory the potential livelihoods of communities and leave them even more impoverished if these areas so rich in natural and cultural ecosystems were to be destroyed. We would essentially then have a highway to nowhere.
Balanced development
Finding the balance between development and conservation has always been a challenge for planners, but balance, it has been proven already in many areas, is attainable. It takes imagination – of which we have plenty unused, as Pat and Louis might say – and will – which might be in short supply. It is a matter of not just thinking, but acting too, outside the accustomed paths to progress – even the IMF and the World Bank recognise that now!
In that last conversation Peter and I discussed some of the many best practice compromises the plans for a highway could draw on, fulfilling the need for access to remote areas and at the same time protecting a fragile and super-sensitive cultural and natural landscapes which are already in their own right a world heritage – though we would not take the time to put the nuts and bolts in place that would facilitate formal recognition as such. A marriage of the unique industrial heritage and industries in the area with the communities for the model kind of sustainable development that is on everyone’s lips. is not a pipe dream.
I shared with Peter my unfolding research and jaw dropping body of evidence I was accumulating, supported by visits to sites in South America and elsewhere and in comparison with others across the globe, that suggest the broader significance of not just Peter’s pet site, but the entire district of that southern peninsula that stretches from La Brea and Cedros on the Caribbean Sea coast and its connections to South America, to the Atlantic Ocean. As with diversification, national budgets over the last decade have been delivering rhetoric about a knowledge driven economy, and diversification through culture, heritage, tourism and agriculture, but fall short of the actions to effect the shifts that will allow for such development, while at the same time offer and allow us to hold up a more wholesome vision of ourselves that overshadows the trials of the middle passage and extend to, be comparable to, and connect with the antiquity of other civilisations. We have been content to accept it as the district Raleigh discovered – so far from the truth – and apart from a few individual piecemeal efforts, not much of significance had been done to expand our knowledge and understanding of the district in the context of all the new research and activities that is being done elsewhere.
‘You still a baby in this. I have seen this many times over. I am too old now. Is over to you now child. I am too tired,’ Pat had said. Shortly after her death, Peter Minshall called me expressing similar distress, hoplessness, frustration, and despondence, and exhaustion too! more recently, along smilar lines, Hanomansingh. It is a cross no one wants to bear.
And then there’s Peter, the other Peter. A few months before his heart gave up, earlier this year, archaeologist Peter Harris called seeking support in a desperate bid to save his life’s work – the Banwari site – presumably the oldest known human skeletal remains in this hemisphere which he had discovered forty-odd years ago, though not many were any wiser.
We exchanged knowledge. I told him of sites I had visited – the area where Indonesia’s Java man was discovered was an expansive protected landscape, with museum and research institute; here all we were seeing was a grave site, not the bigger picture – of a time that was still challenging scientists trying to reconstruct and reconnect the missing links. He was preparing a report and wanted to consult with me on the accepted international standards for protection. That was Peter – quiet, soft spoken diplomacy to the end despite his extreme agitation of possibly having to watch his life’s work erased. The proposed highway to Point Fortin would pass dangerously close to the site, and the construction activity threatened to overwhelm whatever additional evidence may still be present, not to mention the quarter acre the myopic planners saw as ‘the site’.
At last visit to Banwari Site with deceased archeologist Peter Harris
Current custodians are happy to just focus on the few square feet of the skeletal site itself with no consideration given to its larger contexts and the surrounding districts. Industry – oil, gas, asphalt – shy away like the quick-fix politicians – from any substantive actions on how the rich harvests of the district 

could also help support exploration of new initiatives that could only add value to the area, and give the span of communities there a different view of themselves, of their place in the scheme of things, while directly opening them up to a whole host of new economic self generated individual-driven cultural and heritage employment opportunities and activities that function complementary to the technical skills of the district’s traditional industries that if at all, only indirectly filter down to them. Planning for the area, or lack thereof, has given no thought to these significant dimensions that could springboard the long neglected districts into 21st century relevance.
Louis, Peter and Pat – three heritage soldiers whose life stories and interests might be different, but whose focus were very similar to each other. They summoned their creative energies to negate the similar frustrations: dinosaur institutions, individuals touting change, but unwilling to take the necessary actions to effect them, then falling into their comfort zone only to replicate bad habits.
Louis, Peter and Pat – three lagahoos – sleepless, tireless explorers and proponents of heritage as essential to endowing the next generation with a sense of place and identity, but also sustainable sources of livelihood from the self initiative, innovation and creativity that spring so naturally from our communities.
Peter was a discoverer, of heritage. He tried to lodge his findings with institutions which reduced their significance to the narrow confines of the myopic limitations these institutions impose on themselves – post independence notwithstanding.
Louis was a hoarder of heritage. His anxiety that they would be lost to the ignorant, or the marauding development bulldozers, meant he was often only-too-willingness to cut, sometime dangerous, corners, as I had pointed out to him in relation to the Ganteaume tombstones in Mayaro which we subsequently found out were in his museum and several other issues that arose on the committee.
Pat Bishop was a creator of heritage.
‘T&T is a place that if you wanted to listen to a concert, you have to create one,’ she would say, and she created concert after concert. Louis wanted a place where our history and heritage could be preserved so he created a museum. I got the message: if I wanted people to read my books, to read local authors, I should create my own literacy and literary movement – and that means, in the absence of accessible systems to do so, inspire literary appreciation, educate, research, write, publish, market, distribute, promote, cajole, lobby, etc; that, and expect potential heart failure.
That is our social culture. It is a cultural norm that we do not acknowledge. In not acknowledging it we cannot address it. The story of inertia in the heritage, culture and tourism sectors – still largely viewed as cruise ships and flag waving – while our frustrated youths, seeing the unfulfilled potential around them, take up arms. It is not much different for any of our other sectors and the systems in the functions and attitudes that govern them.
That is also in our political culture: if you want changes in governance, create a political party. If that party falls short, you create another one. It is the same dynamics that have generated the mushrooming of more than 7000 civil society organisations across the country – a CSO/NGO each for less than three quarters of a square kilometre if one wants to get statistical, each championing a cause seen more relevant to the several others it may be duplicating.
Inflexibility and the absence of commitment to transform, change, and evolve; the lack of proper mechanisms, infrastructure and facilities for national assets that will ensure adequate protection of our national assets, including heritage assets encourage citizens to take actions in our own hands.
That void is adequate breeding ground for vigilantes.
When state systems fall down civic-minded citizens are left to take up the slack, until even the state begins to support corner-cutting, because it fulfils its agenda for politically expedient quick fixes, while the preparation of the substantive mechanisms and infrastructures are put on hold. By whatever name one wants to call it, it is vigilante action, fostered because the existing institutions charged with those responsibilities show little interest, understanding or willingness to take the necessary actions to transform themselves to become more relevant to evolving and dynamic social changes and expectations. The vigilantes become heroes. That’s what happens on this side of the fence, of those like Louis, Pat and Peter, who worked to protect, secure, build a future in villages and communities for other generations.
It is not rocket science, if we connect the dots. It is no different and just as much the cultural norm of what happens on the other side of the fence: those other community leaders, gang leaders, those propagating another kind of laga-hoodlumism, the other kind of vigilante justice…
The race is on and the bets may be already fixed on who’s going to win the war; and who will die trying!
If only we knew ourselves…
R.I.P. Louis. Peter. Pat. Happy Independence! From those of us independent, but still dragging lagahoo shackles on this side!

Let’s take back our comunities from so-called community leaders

Closing Remarks, Dr Kris Rampersad Chair, National Commission for UNESCO,  at
Leading for Literacy Now! National Workshop for Principals and Teachers
Sister Francis Xavier Heritage Hall, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain
August 25 2013

One of the advantages in living in a place like Trinidad and Tobago is that we have easy access and exposure to the good books of the many and varied cultures, ethnicities and religions that make up our society.
One of our good books tells us that the world was created in six days.
Mrs Elizabeth Crouch, Principal of Marina Regina Prep School and head of the education sector committee of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO lead principals, school supervisors and teachers in the joint UNESCO/Ministry of Education initiative Leading for Literacy Now!
We have come to the sixth day of this our week-long efforts to begin to recreate and transforming our world, the communities and the spaces and the schools we occupy, as Leaders for Literacy, Now!
Do we feel more empowered? Do we feel better prepared and better tooled? We, of the National Commission for UNESCO of Trinidad and Tobago, and our project partners, the Ministry of Education, BMobile and the UK-Based National Training College for School Leadership and the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment hope that we have met and fulfilled some of those expectations that we outlined at the beginning of this week and when this training preparation began with you earlier this year and with us since last year.
We thank you for investing your time and energies and visions with us, and now we have some expectations of our own. We want results and returns on this investment – not just the more than half a million dollars UNESCO and the Ministry of Education with our project partners are investing in this, but also in the energies and ideas we have shared and exchanged.
We well recognise that many of you function under very challenge personal and professional situations. We well recognise that the tasks with which you are charged as principals and teachers are by no means easy. We well recognise that sometimes the diversity of our society demands constant readjustments to varying expectations.
But we want to challenge you now to go forth and reclaim your places as bonafide community leaders. For too long the term, and the role of leaders in our communities have been hijacked by not too savoury elements who are being held up as the role models for our youths and children. For too long we have watched our children being kidnapped by forces and influences that we wanted to think were beyond our control. For too long the schoolmaster and mistress who were once significant and pivotal axes of social life in our villages and districts, have either abdicated their roles or been forced out of them by other social pressures. For too long we have been held to ransom by bandits and criminals in the guise of leaders and social and community leaders.
We ask you now to go back and reclaim those spaces; to see yourself and to present and represent yourselves as the leaders that you are. To put your hands up proudly when there are calls for meetings and discussions and consultations with community leaders and say that you are leaders in your community.
We ask you that you return to your schools to no longer cower before bullying parents and misguided children and take charge!
We ask you to use what you have learnt here to, as I said at the opening, not just influence the directions of our education system and by extension of our society, but to transform it.
You are the community leaders. You are agents of change and transformation.
It is no secret that we live in not just interesting, as Confucius is said to have said, but also in challenging times; times that demand all our energies and intelligence to manage the winds of change that are blowing and that all of us are feeling in our schools and in our districts. We need to manage these changing times so we do not have the negative repercussions as we are witnessing taking place in Egypt and Syria and elsewhere. We need to direct and redirect the changes that are inevitable, drawing from your own wisdom and experiences to positively impact our youth and harness their restless energies for change.
It certainly will require a few qualities that cannot be learnt in a classroom – open-mindedness, flexibility, and patience – but we do hope that this classroom has provided you with some formulas by which you can assess and understand how to acquire and cull those qualities.
As the same good book said, on the seventh, the Creator rested. I don’t think that meant that for you, not for us.
Tomorrow, we go on our drill with the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment which is promising us through the Army Leadership Training Centre, a one-day outdoor team-building and risk training exercise to what you already know and have learnt of leadership.
Like us at the National Commission, the Army Leadership Training personnel recognise that this is particularly important in the dynamic environment in which you find yourself working everyday in our schools. They acknowledge your role as principal and educator as paramount in carving and manipulation this chameleon environment in which you function, in dealing with students and staff and parents from all walks of life and with varying morals, values, and social skills that require some extra special skills to help you cope with situations where the answers may either be nowhere in sight, or just under your nose; where the success of the team will not depend on the strength of any one individual or where achieving overall success may depend on the subordination of personal objectives.
So that’s the task of the seventh day, tomorrow – not to rest, but as the ones created for the task, to continue the good work to go forth and multiply these learnings into your schools and communities. To Lead for Literacy, Now!
Because we all know what the power of literacy is. We are all living examples of that – of how our ability to read and to interpret a line, a page, a book can transform how we see ourselves, how we view others and how to make informed and intelligent choices when confronted with difficult options, or no options at all. That has been my experience as a reader, from districts and schools and homes just like the ones you serve.
And it is our sense of personal responsibility that has inspired my Leaves of Life drive for a revolution in reading, to inspire reading in unorthodox ways; and it is the sense of collective responsibility that inspired Mrs Crouch and our team of the National Commission, and the Ministry of Education in planning and organising this Leading for Literacy, Now! We are building a team and I am sure too an army, for change.
We envision that in the forty schools from which you were drawn, voluntarily, we will begin to see results in learning and literacy – in the ability of our children to read as early as the end of the first term – by December, yes December 2013 – we all know that three months is a very long time in the life of a child and they can learn much in such a short space of time. Are we ready for that! We must claim their minds and imaginations before someone else does.
We also envision that from forty districts in Trinidad and Tobago, we will begin to see an impact on perceptions and beliefs of who are our real community leaders; who are really in charge; and to whom our society should turn when it needs advice and directions and leadership. You! Are we ready for that?
As we promised at the beginning, we will continue to encourage you to not only keep up the dialogue, but translate it into actions within your own spheres and share it with your peers, in other schools and districts as we assess the outcomes of this and get ready to draw in more of our principals and teachers and children as we have been mandated by the Minister of Education.
Yes, we were very serious when we titled this Leading for Literacy, Now! Let as take back our communities; let us take back our children, as leaders, Now!
I thank you.
PHOTO CAPTION: Mrs Elizabeth Crouch, Principal of Marina Regina Prep School and head of the education sector committee of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO lead principals, school supervisors and teachers in the joint UNESCO/Ministry of Education initiative Leading for Literacy Now! Photo Courtesy Kris Rampersad

Valuing Carnival The Emperor’s New Tools#2

WHO WILL BE DEMOKRISSY’s 25000th READER? The Count Is On….
PLS RESPECT OUR COPYRIGHTS: You can contribute to these efforts by purchasing the books for friends, schools and institutions; or requesting our customised LiTTours or LiTTributes – Email lolleaes@gmail.com for details 

So masmen are enflamed. Again. Over prize money. Again. Are at loggerheads with the powers that be. Again.
It’s the continuing saga of bacchanalia.
Unless we weed out the endemic systems of dependency on which the celebrations were founded; and the governance system recast itself as mechanism that has the will to act; to revamp and develop adequate systems and structures and institutions that nurture and support artists and creators in ways that make them self-reliant, and that make the Carnival and other Festival Arts into the viable and sustainable creative industrial sector they can be, the recurring impasse over prizes, prize structure and prize money for pan, mas, calypso, soca, chutney, stickfighting, Hosay, Divali,  Phagwa, Pichakarie, and everything in between would remain the never-ending story.
Somewhere in there is also the recurringly invisible cultural policy in state of perpetual draft over the last 50 odd years of so – yes, 50 years – and each time it resurfaces merely replicates the dependency syndrome!
Is it any wonder that we cannot see our way, despite the rich amalgam of talent and creativity we exhibit in our daily lives. Shortsightedness continues to doggers.
Where are the well-thought-out budgets that look beyond just the annual seven day wonder to an Industry? That takes into full account the contributions and the value – social, economic, political and other value included – of the cultural sector so budgetary focus can match that contribution, not reflect tokenism.
Where is the vision for building proper supportive trade and commercial structures and mechanisms?
Where are the mechaniims and facilities and facilitation for those more meaningful forms of compensation as insurance, pensions, support grants, support training and services that would build and strengthen the sector so ever so regularly we would not have to hear of how another of our artists is close to the breadline?
And where is the will by those in the sector – policy and decision makers, the corporate sector, and practitioners alike, to make it happen?
Are we really serious. Who’s fooling whom?
These are some of the endemic systematic changes and modes for institutional reform in a culture of transformation that discussions on constitutional reform should also take into account – how to redress the kind of institutional malaise that are inhibiting progress and meaningful development and effectively restructure public institutions, their relationships with the state and the state’s relationships to the civic mechanisms that they ought to sustain.

Them Red House Bones

The recent finds of skeletal remains and artefacts believed to be early century AD under the Red House Parliament Building in Port of Spain, Trinidad point to the need for a comprehensive archeological survey of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago’s prehistoric connections with the American mainland holds enormous potential for opening up a vast field on new research activity. The new university campus in South Trinidad ought to look at establishing an all-encompassing programme in heritage studies that incorporate research, scientific, conservation, restoration and curatorial study among other fields that would advance the knowledge and understanding of Trinidad and Tobago’s prehistory and multicultural heritage.

Nicole Drayton Photo from Guardian Report.I have no copyright claims on this
http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-04-18/more-bones-found-under-red-house 

This also has value to the region and the world.  We have for too long paid only lip service to our multiculturalism. The find under the Red House of bones potentially dating to the beginning of this epoch points to the significant need for a proper survey and actions to secure and protect zones that are of significant historical and prehistoric importance.

One of the most distressing evidence of lack of attention is the state of the Banwari site which is one of, if not the most significant known archeological treasures of not only Trinidad and Tobago but the region and around which very little of significance has been done since it was discovered some forty years ago.
Why, forty years later, as one of the richest countries in the region, must we be looking to other universities from which to draw expertise when by now we should have full-fledged – not only archeological, but also conservation, restoration and other related programmes that explore the significance of our heritage beyond the current focus on song and dance mode? While scholarly collaborations are important, certainly we could be more advanced, and a leader rather than a follower in these fields in which several other less-resourced Caribbean countries are significantly more advanced.
At a recent workshop where Trinidad and Tobago’s heritage assets, including the 7000-year old Banwari site’s potential as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was discussed, Caribbean colleagues expressed grave concern that Trinidad and Tobago had not moved towards effecting the research, legislation and other actions necessary to recognise the value and significance of the site and the surrounding districts as a place of outstanding universal value and a world treasure.
Trinidad’s entire southwest peninsula, as a key entry point to the migration of prehistoric peoples from the mainland though to the islands, would benefit from a comprehensive archeological survey and follow up action, and such sustained infrastructural mechanisms as a study and skills-building programme at university level as well as sensitisation building that begins from pre-school and injected into the primary and secondary curriculum.
So much of the history of the region is still unknown and so much of the accepted theories are being challenged. Work in this area in Trinidad and Tobago can significantly add to our knowledge and understanding of the region and this is partly the intention behind our undertaken a series of actions to enhance awareness about the prehistoric connections between Trinidad and Tobago and the mainland and islands as well as the wider diasporas of North America, Europe, Africa and Asia through LiTTributes – tributes that recognise the literatures and cultures that comprises Trinidad and Tobago’s multicultural milieu. To date, LiTTributes have been staged in T&T, Guyana (LiTTribute to the Mainland); Antigua (LiTTribute to the Antilles) and shortly in the UK, (LiTTribute to LondonTTown). Similarly, she has also been conducting LiTTours in T&T that highlight the connection between literary and built, natural, political, institutional and cultural heritage. The last LiTTour brought to light the state of tombstones dating to the mid eighteenth century belonging to the first French migrants to Trinidad and linked to several prominent families in Trinidad and Tobago’s history including the former archbishop, politicians and businessmen.
It is not pie in the sky. We are sitting on a gold mine that can add significantly to the world’s knowledge stock, and forge new employment and income earning pathways, while building a more conscious society. These are unexplored assets of indelible and indefinite value which can augment the national coffers if that is the only language we understand in relation to not only the now exploding arena of heritage tourism interests but other spinoffs as “academic tourism” and other downstream disciplines and sectors.
See related posts: 
ReflecTTions on Intrinsic ConnecTTions at LiTTribute to the Mainland: http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2013/02/littribute-11-litturgy-to-mainland-with.html
See Also:

Archaeologist on Red House find: Amerindian artefacts date back to AD 0-350

Published: 
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Pottery artefacts found under the Red House recently are of an Amerindian style dating back to AD 0-350 and can be dated by sight, says archaeologist Peter Harris. And he is almost certain that bone fragments found near the pottery are also Amerindian. Harris spoke yesterday after further scrutiny of the artefacts and bone fragments found under the Red House on March 25. 
Last week, the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) said the fragments were found while workers doing restoration work on the Red House were digging inspection pits on the ground floor. The artefacts were also found. Udecott said the fragments were taken by the Office of the Parliament for testing. 
Parliament representative Neil Jaggassar and archaeologist Harris visited later last week to investigate the discoveries. Udecott said the Office of the Parliament last Thursday advised that the bone and artefacts date to the Amerindian era. Harris said yesterday it is almost certain the bone fragments are Amerindian, since they came from the same area as the pottery. 
He said his team had checked the walls of the excavation where everything was found and there was no doubt the bones and pottery all came from the same part of the worksite as they were able to pinpoint exactly where the bones were located. “The pottery is Amerindian in a style that dates back to AD 0 to AD 350. It’s visually dateable because people over the years have excavated in T&T and built up a set of styles we have ample references…We can tell what style is associated with what date,” Harris said.
“What was found so far is a small amount of pottery, but it fits the period of AD 0-AD 350. While we havent’t got the whole story yet, I’m sure that if things were found so closely together in a place they’re likely to be related. “We’re a long way from knowing what village or what was there on that site, but we do know the bones found are almost certainly Amerindian.”
Parliament officials, speaking earlier in the day, said foreign testing might have to be done on the bones and as far as they were aware, there has not been full official confirmation on the origin of the bones. An official said there are three groups that specialise in Amerindian matters in T&T which the various agencies would have to check with. 
They said the news of the discoveries, however, has generated so much interest that it is slightly hindering their work. They said there might be consultations between Udecott and the Parliament on the situation and a statement may be made later. They were unaware whether the police were notified of the discovery of the bones. Police communications officer Joanne Archie said the normal protocol when bones are found anywhere was that police are notified to take a look at them.
MORE INFO
What Udecott said
Udecott’s communication officer Roxanne Stapleton-Whyms said the Office of the Parliament is heading the process to have the bones tested by experts.
Stapleton-Whyms said it was noteworthy that the find was made under the existing ground floor slab in the rotunda of the Red House, which had been in place  since the early 20th century. She added that the find has not held up or stopped ongoing work, as the bones and artefacts were discovered in an isolated portion of the project site.
She said the inspection pits would remain in their current condition until the archaeologists and other stakeholders have concluded their testing and investigation of both the excavated material and the soil strata. On whether police were informed of the find, she said when the bones were discovered both Udecott and Parliament staff were present. “Given that the site falls under the purview of the Parliament they took the lead in this regard,” Stapleton-Whyms added.
Historian’s view 
On whether there is any known Amerindian connection to the Red House site, Paria Publishing historian Gerard Besson said late architect John Newel Lewis’s Ajoupa publication chronicled a travel guide to the Caribbean from 1899 by James H Starke which noted legends that a great battle between rival Arawak tribes took place in ancient times where Woodford Square now stands. Because of this, the area was known as “Place des Armes.” 
Besson said there was also a myth that in pre-Columbian times, tribal youths had fought battles of manhood in a large forest of silk cotton trees which stood where the square is today.

Amerindian artefacts found at Red House

Published: 
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
If the artefacts, including bones, found under the Red House are determined to be authentic Amerindian remains, then the site could be preserved as part of  the refurbishment of the building, chairman of the National Trust Vel Lewis said yesterday. Speaking to the T&T Guardian in San Fernando, where he attended a meeting with mayor Dr Navi Muradali to discuss the destruction of historic buildings in the city, Lewis said the find was being studied to determine precisely what it was and if it was authentic.
He said: “It could be an Amerindian site but we want to conduct tests to be sure before we can make any declaration. Once we have established that, we would then be clearer as to how to treat with it and discuss with the Parliament how the site could be preserved within the refurbishment of the Red House. 
Amerindian chief Ricardo Bharat-Hernandez believes the bones and artefacts are those of Amerindian ancestors and wants to perform a religious ceremony on the site as soon as he gets the all-clear. On Sunday, he, Lewis and archaeologists visited the site where the find was made during restoration work on the Red House being undertaken by Udecott. He said the artefacts, consisting of pottery, a piece of a pipe, which may have been used by a chief, and a bead from a necklace, have all been identified as Amerindian. 
He said some verification was needed to determine the origin of the bones and whether they belonged to children or adults. Another Amerindian descendant, journalist Tracy Assing, who has made a documentary film about Trinidad’s Amerindians, said the find was very important. 
She said: “Unfortunately, there aren’t that many digs where we only ever discover these artefacts when the lands have already been sold and something constructed. Then that becomes an issue with the landowner. “In this case the Red House will continue to be built. The other issue is whether the site can be protected or if a dig can be established or expanded.”

More bones found under Red House

Published: 
Thursday, April 18, 2013
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Red House project liaison officer Neil Jagessar, right, shows Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and officials of the Housing Development Corporation the excavation site where more bones where found yesterday. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
More bone fragments found under the Red House last Saturday and yesterday are being examined by experts, including those from the University of Miami, whose assessment should be completed in a few weeks. A skull, pelvic bone and femur were found  beneath the Red house last  Saturday and two more fragments were found yesterday.
This was confirmed by Udecott and Parliament officials when Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal visited the Red House yesterday to inspect the areas where the first set of bones and artefacts were found on March 25. On that date Udecott workers involved in the Red House restoration made the first discovery in seven-foot deep pits dug to test the Red House foundations. Parliament had called in forensic experts which confirmed they were human remains. 
The Parliament is in the process of having the bones carbon-dated to ascertain the exact age. Archeologist Peter Harris has advised the bones and artefacts may date back to Amerindian times. Yesterday Moonilal was given this information and was shown four of the 16 inspection pits being dug in and around the Red House compound and where the bones and artefacts were found. 
Moonilal was told by Parliament project supervisor, Neil Jagessar, that part of a skull and pelvic bone and what appeared to be a femur (thigh bone), about 12 inches in length, were found in a pit dug near the Knox Street side of the building last Saturday. Those fragments were the latest found since the March 25 discovery, Parliament officials said. Two other fragments were also found yesterday, it was confirmed.
Moonilal, who said he had wanted to take a look at the situation, quipped: “We have confirmed the bones are not that of any dead politician or anyone who’s politically dead but still alive,” Saying the bones might pre-date the Red House, he added: “The majority of the bones have been placed by the Parliament. They have experts, now being assisted by the University of Miami and the archeological unit, looking to date all of the bones. 
“This technical process should take two or three weeks and then they would be in a position to say how old the bones are.” Moonilal said it might be that they pre-date the early 1900s. He said  some of the backfilling under the Red House came from along the Priority Bus Route and it was possible that backfill contained bone fragments. “We don’t know yet,” he added.
Not a crime scene
Moonilal said Homicide detectives visited the Red House and had cleared it as a crime scene, indicating no foul play was involved concerning the bones. He said Udecott was on target with Red House restoration and he was satisfied with progress. 
He said the job, costing over $.5 billion, is projected to be completed in 2015. Government is doing paperwork to relocate the National Security Ministry from Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain, to clear the way for construction of the planned companion building for the Red House on that site.

T&T Red House Suffers Violent Attacks In 1903 and 1990

A new chapter in the 169-year-old history of the Red House is in the making following the discovery of bones and artefacts in the foundations of the Rotunda.
Preliminary reports by archaeologist Peter Harris suggested that “the bones are from members of an Arawak tribe dating back to AD 0 to AD 350, and the pottery is definitely Amerindian in style dating back to the same era”.
Government pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov of the Forensic Science Centre in Port of Spain confirmed that “the bones are similar to those of human beings”, but in the absence of facilities to determine the exact ethnicity and sex, arrangements are being made to send samples of the bones abroad, either to Michigan University, USA, or Miami University, for further testing and evaluation.
The report of the findings, one way or another, will now place the Red House and its surroundings in a new light, as one of the most controversial State buildings in Trinidad, where, since 1903, it has been at the centre of abuse and assault.
Historian Gerard Besson recalled an article by John Newel Lewis on the status of the site on which the Red House was built. The article, written by James H Starke, noted, “There was a great battle between rival Arawak tribes that took place in ancient times where Woodford Square now stands. Because of this, the area was called Place des Armes.”
Another source indicated that landfill from Laventille was taken to the site during construction of the first Red House.
On February 15, 1844, the foundation stone was laid for the construction of a government building which became the Red House.
The current building is the second structure to be built on the same spot. The first was designed by Richard Bridgens and built by G de la Sauvagere and AA Pierre. It comprised two main blocks connected by a double archway. Though not quite complete, the Red House was opened in 1848 by Governor Lord Harris.
Fifty years later in 1897, it was painted red during the celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Since then Trinidadians and Tobagonians have given the building the name Red House.
As the seat of government since the mid-19th century, the Red House, which is of Greek revival style, has undergone more assaults than any other government building in Trinidad.
In 1903 it was destroyed by fire, when an enraged mob broke windows, threw missiles and started a fire that gutted the entire building. This incident is known as the Water Riots, which took place on March 23, 1903.
On the day of the fire, members of the Legislative Council were debating a bill on the distribution and increased payment of water rates by burgesses in Port of Spain.
While the debate was in progress, there was also a protest meeting by members of the Ratepayer’s Association in progress at Woodford Square, then called Brunswick Square.
During the protest, the crowd became agitated and noisy and stones were thrown, at the windows of the building, smashing them to pieces.
Members in the council chamber were forced to duck under tables and desks and behind pillars.
One member, Henry Albert Alcazar, had walked out of the building in protest against the government’s water policies, stating, “The public movement is the inauguration of a more serious movement which I hope will end in the people having their own say at this table.”
After the riots, he served as counsel for those accused of rioting, before the Commission of Enquiry, as well as those who had died or were injured in the riots.
In the face of violence and destruction, the Governor Sir AC Maloney had refused to withdraw the bill.
In the aftermath of the fire, 16 people lay dead and 42 injured, and the first Red House building was completely destroyed, leaving only the shell of the building standing among the rubble which was later removed to fill open spaces in Victoria and Harris Squares.
Rebuilding a new home for Parliament began the following year. It was designed and built by DM Hahn, chief draughtsman at the Works Department, at a cost of 7,485 pounds sterling.
The ceiling in the new chamber was one of the most striking pieces of architecture. An Italian craftsman installed the ceiling.
The columns and entablature were made of purple hart wood imported from Guyana, a fountain was installed in the middle of the Rotunda and the passageway between the two buildings was closed to vehicular traffic.
Work was completed in 1906 and the building was opened to the public on February 4, 1907 by Governor Sir HM Jackson.
At the opening, Jackson called on the people of Trinidad to forget the past events at the Red House and concentrate on a fresh history of Trinidad.
In his address, Jackson said, “Today we leave that episode of the past behind us forever, and we turn a fresh page in the history of Trinidad.”
Eighty-three years after the call by Jackson to forget the bitterness of past memories, there was an attempted coup at the Red House by members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, who on the afternoon of July 27, 1990, stormed the Parliament building during a sitting of the House of Representatives. During the siege, seven people were killed in the Red House and several injured.
Long after the assault, bullet holes could be seen on the ceiling, walls and doors of the building.
On July 26, 1991, the traditional chamber was restored, and commemorative plaques relating to the incident installed. These included a portrait of Leo Des Vignes, Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central, who had died in the siege; a plaque bearing the names of the casualties of the invasion and a marble cenotaph crowned with an eternal flame erected on the eastern end of the lawn of the Red House.
These formed part of the history of the Red House depicting the tumultuous past, the fire, the attempted coup and other incidents that threatened the core of our democracy.
The discovery of bones and artefacts will undoubtedly raise further issues concerning the past, and even the future, of the Red House.
Source:http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Burnt-and-besieged-202945221.html

Bones found during excavation work sent for testing

Published: 
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Bones which were found beneath the Red House during excavation work recently  were sent to  the Forensic  Science Centre for testing last week and will also be tested  later by UWI’s Research Unit, according to the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration. The bones and a number of pottery and other artifacts were found beneath the Red House on March 25 during excavation work by Udecott which is restoring and renovating the Red House.  
 Ministry spokesman Desiree  Connor said the bones are undergoing testing to ascertain officially what era they are from. Archaeologist Peter Harris, who has been advising the Parliament on the findings, has said the findings appear to date back to Amerindian times. Harris said yesterday no further remains or artifacts have been found since the first batch was discovered. He added that indigenous groups in T&T had been receiving calls of interest from overseas on the findings.
 Police communications officer  Joanne Archie said yesterday police had gone to the Red House to inspect the bones when they were first discovered as per normal protocol. She said due to the circumstances of the situation—being found at a certain depth  beneath the Red House and the historical nature of the situation—the bones were not kept by police.
 The usual protocol when bones are discovered is that they are sent to  Forensic  for testing  against records of missing  persons which the police have. The Red House case  of the bone fragments found is different, police sources said. 
Moonilal: Bones may pre-date Red House
 http://www.newsday.co.tt/politics/0,176429.html

By SEAN DOUGLAS Thursday, April 18 2013
HOUSING Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal yesterday said he was pleased with the pace of restoration at the Red House as he visited to see the site where ancient bones had been found.
Udecott staff (for whom he is line Minister) showed him four holes ranging in depth from four feet to 15 feet dug into the ground beneath the Red House to test the building’s foundation.

“I’ve been informed by the Udecott officials over the last few days of certain ‘finds’ here — bone fragments and artefacts — so I wanted to come and take a look myself and see what was happening,” said Moonilal.

“Construction here on the restoration of the Red House is well underway, and they are doing some scientific testing now of the soil and foundation walls and so on, and apparently in digging at these inspection sites they found artefacts and bones and so on.” He joked that the bones do not belong to any dead politician.

“Apparently they are aged, that may pre-date the Red House. The majority of the bones have been placed by the Parliament, and they have the experts now, assisted by the University of Miami,” said Moonilal. “They have archaeological units and so on that are now looking to see if they can ‘date’ the bones. That is a scientific process that will take two or three weeks, I understand, and we’ll be in a position to say how old the bones are.”

He said the bones might pre-date the early 1900s. “It could well be that some of the fillings for here came from an area along the Priority Bus Route. So it could be backfill from there that has bone fragments in it.”

Moonilal said the Homicide Bureau of the TT Police Service has said the bones indicate it was not a crime site, but an archaeological site. “So there’s no foul play here.”

“So we continue to monitor it. I think it has great significance and great historical interest for Trinidad and the City of Port-of-Spain. I imagine the archaeologists and historians would be interested in this development, so we’ll monitor it, but the work continues on the restoration of the Red House, it’s just that this is a very unusual dimension to that work.”

He was satisfied with the pace of restoration, despite the time used in engaging foreign experts. “But we are on target and we expect by 2015 or thereabouts we will be finished with this,” he added. He said the project also involved construction of a parliamentary Companion Building at the current site of the Ministry of National Security at Knox Street, Port-of-Spain.

Moonilal said the Companion Building is a modern glass and concrete building, which they expect no trouble with. He said remedial work was happening at the Red House.

“Sometimes from the outside it looks as if nothing is happening, because we are not breaking down the building, but when you go inside certainly you are seeing all the rooms and what is happening there and the type of scientific work that is involved. So we are very pleased with Udecott’s handling of this project. The deadline for completion I believe is early 2015 and we are on target.”

On the restoration of other historical buildings such as the Magnificent Seven, he said responsibility variously lies with Udecott and/or Nipdec. “We are moving now to ensure that the restoration of President’s House will also be taken over by Udecott, and that they’ll assess that project quickly and see how best we can move.” Foreign experts are helping, he said. Moonilal said the funding for restoration projects is a key issue, noting the Red House projects costs $500 million.

LiTTour and LiTTscapes in Spotlight – Final 2 days of Special LiTTour offer

LiTTour and LiTTscapes in spotlight as Bocas LiTFest Begins Thursday
Last 2 Days for Free LiTTour Offer: Register Now! call 1-868- http://goo.gl/pcZxm
see also:
http://www.trinidadexpress.com/featured-news/Bocas-Lit-Fest-begins-tomorrow-204384801.html

Bocas Lit Fest begins tomorrow

 At the third annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest which starts tomorrow at the National Library the very first Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Literature will be awarded to Trinidadian John La Rose (posthumously) and Sarah White for their own exemplary work publishing and promoting Caribbean writers.
In the 1940s Henry Swanzy was the editor in what is now the BBC World Service of the weekly Caribbean Voices programme that featured creative writing from the English-speaking Caribbean. It became pivotal in shaping the development of the region’s post war literature, now regarded as the Golden Age of Caribbean writing. 
The programme helped launch the careers of many writers who achieved international fame: Trinidadians Sam Selvon and Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul; the other Caribbean Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott from St Lucia; Kamau Brathwaite and George Lamming from Barbados; Jamaicans Gloria Escofery, John Figueroa and Andrew Salkey; Guyanese Edgar Mittelholzer, Wilson Harris and Ian McDonald; and EM ‘Shake’ Keane from St Vincent. 
Between 1943 and 1955 when Swanzy left, 400 stories and poems along with plays and literary criticism had been broadcast by 372 contributors. On Swanzy’s departure the Times Literary Supplement wrote “West Indian writers freely acknowledge their debt to the BBC for its encouragement, financial and aesthetic. Without that encouragement the birth of a Caribbean literature would have been slower and even more painful than it has been”. Naipaul noted that Swanzy brought to the programme ‘standards and enthusiasm. He took local writing seriously and lifted it above the local’. 
John La Rose migrated to Britain in 1961. With his partner, Sarah White, he founded in London in 1966, New Beacon Books, both a pioneering publishing house and a specialist bookshop focusing on writers and writing from the Caribbean. For him publishing was a vehicle to give independent validation to one’s own culture, history and politics, a way of achieving cultural and social change. They published works by writers such as Wilson Harris, Andrew Salkey, Errol Hill, Dennis Scott, Erna Brodber, Mervyn Morris, and numerous others. 
La Rose co-founded with Andrew Salkey and Kamau Brathwaite, the Caribbean Artists Movement, providing a platform for Caribbean artists, poets, writers, dramatists, actors and musicians. In 1982 he co-founded and directed the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books until 1995. The George Padmore Institute, an archive, library and educational research centre housing materials relating to communities of Caribbean, African and Asian descent in Britain and continental Europe, was established in 1991.
On Thursday at 5 p.m. Horace Ove’s film on La Rose Dream to Change the World will be screened, followed by a short talk by Sarah White on the work of the late John La Rose and presentation of the inaugural Award. 
Every year the NGC Bocas Lit Fest and the National Museum and Art Gallery partner to invite an artist to create a limited-edition work of art. The first numbered piece becomes part of the unique Festival Art Collection of the National Museum and Art Gallery. Funds raised from the sale of the signed, numbered works go to the Lit Fest.
The 2013 festival artist is Wendy Nanan whose piece for this year’s event was unveiled on the First floor of the National Museum and Art Gallery, Frederick Street, Port of Spain. Born in Port of Spain in 1955, she obtained the BFA (Painting) in the UK and currently lives and works in Port of Spain. She has been exhibiting regularly since 1985, including shows in France, Britain, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.  
Transmission pursues Nanan’s interest in the book form, and the idea of the transfer of knowledge.  
A special tour of Port of Spain through the eyes of award winning fictional writers and famous characters began last Saturday.
Based on the critically acclaimed LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad, the LiTTour starts 8 a.m. by prebookings only, leaving from the South Quay compounds of the Public Transport Service Corporation, through the capital city: landscapes and lifestyles; institutions, cultural life, politics, architecture and will be free to persons who, until tomorrow, purchase, a copy of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago. 
LiTTscapes presents Trinidad and Tobago through some 60 writers in more than 100 works since 1595. Head of the Guyana Prize for Literature, Professor Al Creighton described LiTTscapes as a work of art; a documentary, a travelogue, a critical work with visual and literary power.  It takes us on a tour of the country, giving some exposure to almost every aspect of life. 
In conjunction with LiTTscapes and LiTTours, launched last August, Rampersad has also introduced LiTTributes – events in tribute to Caribbean cultures and creativity which have to date been staged in Guyana, Antigua and Trinidad and Tobago and soon in the UK and USA. They are meant to promote literacy, creativity and interactive appreciation of the global multicultural milieu Trinidad and Tobago.   
Customade LiTTributes and LiTTours based on district, theme or body of literature are available on request. For details contact 377-0326 or email lolleaves@gmail.com and visit: www.kris-rampersad.blogspot.com.
The NGC Bocas Lit Fest is free and open to all. It runs from April 25-28 at NALIS.
Free, secure weekday parking is available in Queens Park Savannah with a free hourly shuttle service to NALIS and back. For more information about the Festival programme, visit www.bocaslitfest.com.
The 2013 NGC Bocas Lit Fest 
Schedule for Thursday
The 2013 NGC Bocas Lit Fest officially kicks off!
Writers vs. Politicians 
with Martin Daly, Paula Gopee-Scoon, 
Sunity Maharaj, and Ralph Maraj
Looking ahead to our Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference debates, local luminaries read portraits of politicians — hilarious, ironic, tragic — from classic and contemporary works of Caribbean fiction by Jamaican John Hearne, Barbadian Austin Clarke, Trinidad-born
Monique Roffey, and Guyanese Pauline Melville
9–10 am • Old Fire Station
WORKSHOP
Getting started
with Marlon James
For new writers: how to find your subject and voice, and break through the barrier of the opening line
10 am–12.30 pm • 1st Floor Seminar Room
FATHER FIGURES
Colin Grant and Hannah Lowe
chaired by Ruth Borthwick
Prose and verse portraits of Jamaican fathers, by the authors of Bageye at the Wheel and Chick
10.30–11.30 am • Old Fire Station
POETRY
Marion Bethel and Cyril Dabydeen chaired by Nicha Selvon-Ramkissoon
Readings by poets from the Bahamas and Guyana
10.30–11.30 am • AV Room
NEW TALENT SHOWCASE
Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné
The first of our New Talent Showcase writers reads from her poems and discusses her work
12–12.45 pm • Old Fire Station
PERFORMANCE POETRY AND OPEN MIC
Lunchtime jam
A selection of performance poets take their vibe to the streets of the city. Plus a chance for budding
writers to share their work
12–1 pm • Abercromby Street Arcade
FILM
Barbado’ed, dir. Shane Brennan and Paul Arnott
The poorest community in Barbados is the Redlegs, the direct descendants of Scots transported to
Barbados in the 17th century.
Scottish author Chris Dolan discovers what they know about their roots, and what their prospects are
12–1 pm • AV Room
FORGOTTEN STORIES
Andrea Stuart and Chris Dolan
chaired by Margaret Busby
Forgotten parts of the history of Barbados, retold by the authors of Sugar in the Blood and Redlegs
1.00–2.00 pm • AV Room
WORKSHOP
Length matters
with Cyril Dabydeen
There are stories that need a few dozen pages, and some that need a few dozen words. An introduction to short-short fiction
1.30–4 pm • 1st Floor Seminar Room
DISCUSSION
Beyond a Boundary at 50 with Deryck Murray and Arnold Gibbons, chaired by Kenneth
Ramchand C.L.R. James’s great book on sport, politics, and society celebrates its half-century in 2012. A panel of sportsmen and scholars discuss its continuing relevance
1.30–2.30 pm • Old Fire Station
MUSIC
Lovey and Co.
with John Cowley
The first Trinidadian musicians ever to be recorded were Lovey’s Original Trinidad String Band, in 1912. The author of Carnival, Canboulay, and Calypso tells the story, and discusses Lovey’s legacy with Trinidad Express features editor Deborah John
2–3 pm • AV Room
FICTION
Courttia Newland and Ifeona Fulani
chaired by Ryan Durgasingh
A reading of new fiction by the authors of The Gospel According to Cane and Ten Days in Jamaica
2.30–3.30 pm • Old Fire Station
FICTION
Kerry Young and Diana McCaulay
chaired by Giselle Rampaul
Jamaican family histories transformed into fiction by the authors of Pao and Huracan
4–5 pm • Old Fire Station
SHORT TALK
Alison Donnell and Michael Bucknor talk to Barbara Lalla about the Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature, and our evolving literary canon
4–5 pm • AV Room
ONE-ON-ONE
Marina Warner
The British author of Alone of All Her Sex and Stranger Magic talks to Lawrence Scott about myths, history, and stories
5–6 pm • Old Fire Station
FILM
A Dream to Change the World: A Tribute to John La Rose, dir. Horace Ové, CBE
A documentary about the life of the late John La Rose, poet, essayist, publisher, trade unionist, cultural and political activist, and founder of New Beacon Books and chairman of the George Padmore Institute in London
5–7 pm • AV Room
BOCAS HENRY SWANZY AWARD
The presentation of the inaugural Bocas Swanzy Award, recognising distinguished service to Caribbean letters, to John La Rose (posthumously) and Sarah White of New Beacon Books
7–8.30 pm • AV Room

Kris Rampersad joins UNESCO group

Kris Rampersad joins UNESCO group Story Created: Apr 5, 2013 at 10:35 PM ECT Story Updated: Apr 5, 2013 at 10:40 PM ECT Trinidadian author and educator Dr Kris Rampersad is one of six international experts who will serve on the consultative body of the international InterGovernmental Committee on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The decision to appoint the experts was made at last December’s meeting of the InterGovernmental Committee in France and Rampersad was elected as Vice-Chair during the committee’s first meeting this week. As a member of this organ, she will participate in scrutinising applications to the UNESCO’s Register of Best Safeguarding Practices, the Urgent Safeguarding List and requests for international assistance in relation to Intangible Cultural Heritage. Rampersad is a UNESCO-trained expert towards helping communities strengthen mechanisms to safeguard their cultural heritage. She has been conducting capacity building exercises in this regard across the Caribbean, including in countries such as Belize, Jamaica, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada. Rampersad has been examining and critiquing national and international policy instruments, including UNESCO mechanisms, and devising mechanisms and recommendations for culture-centred development for more than a decade. Rampersad, who is also the Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, recently published LiTTscapes–Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago. —CMC http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Kris-Rampersad-joins-UNESCO-group-201720511.html T&T Author Dr Kris Rampersad on UNESCO international culture body By Caribbeanemag on April 5, 2013 | From caribbeanemagazine.com http://www.zimbio.com/Caribbean+Entertainment+News/articles/JuevBlOChHK/T+T+Author+Dr+Kris+Rampersad+UNESCO+international Author and educator, Dr Kris Rampersad has been invited to serve on the consultative body of the international InterGovernmental Committee on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation. Rampersad was also elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the consultative body during its first meeting held in Paris this week She is one of six international experts who will serve on the committee in their individual professional capacity, following the decision which was taken at last December’s meeting of the InterGovernmental Committee in Paris, France. As a consultative member, she will participate in scrutinising applications to the UNESCO’s Register of Best Safeguarding Practices, the Urgent Safeguarding List and requests for international assistance in relation to Intangible Cultural Heritage. Dr Rampersad – an independent media, cultural and literary consultant and facilitator – is a UNESCO-trained expert towards safeguarding cultural heritage and strengthening community and national tangible and intangible culture mechanisms. She has been conducting capacity building exercises in this regard across the Caribbean, including in countries as Belize, Jamaica, Guyana, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada. She has also prepared and trained Caribbean youths, policy makers, decision makers and cultural communities in accessing the provisions of the Conventions towards strengthening mechanism for cultural survival and endurance. She further participated in the intergovernmental meeting on intangible cultural heritage in Bali, Indonesia in December, 2011. Rampersad has been examining and critiquing national and international policy instruments, including UNESCO mechanisms, and devising mechanisms and recommendations for culture-centred development for more than a decade. She has also been engaged by various international and regional agencies to present her perspective and coordinate multisectoral examination of development issues, bringing together policy and decision-makers, academics, private sector, media and civil society on a range of fields including science, technology, communications, agriculture, gender among others. A journalist, and newspaper editor, her research and recommendations are represented in UNESCO publications as well as the Commonwealth Foundation’s Putting Culture First Report; the culture reports of the ACP-EU (Africa, Pacific, Caribbean-European Union), and the International Who’s Who in Culture Policy Research among others. She is the author of the highly acclaimed LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago; Through the Political Glass Ceiling, and Finding a Place along with numerous print and new media journals and fora on culture, gender, literature, media and development. Rampersad is the Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO. Friday, April 5, 2013 T&T AUTHOR DR KRIS RAMPERSAD ON UNESCO INTERNATIONAL CULTURE BODY 9:50 AM Caribbean E-Magazine No comments Author and educator, Dr Kris Rampersad has been invited to serve on the consultative body of the international InterGovernmental Committee on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation. Rampersad was also elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the consultative body during its first meeting held in Paris this week She is one of six international experts who will serve on the committee in their individual professional capacity, following the decision which was taken at last December’s meeting of the InterGovernmental Committee in Paris, France. As a consultative member, she will participate in scrutinising applications to the UNESCO’s Register of Best Safeguarding Practices, the Urgent Safeguarding List and requests for international assistance in relation to Intangible Cultural Heritage. Dr Rampersad – an independent media, cultural and literary consultant and facilitator – is a UNESCO-trained expert towards safeguarding cultural heritage and strengthening community and national tangible and intangible culture mechanisms. She has been conducting capacity building exercises in this regard across the Caribbean, including in countries as Belize, Jamaica, Guyana, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada. She has also prepared and trained Caribbean youths, policy makers, decision makers and cultural communities in accessing the provisions of the Conventions towards strengthening mechanism for cultural survival and endurance. She further participated in the intergovernmental meeting on intangible cultural heritage in Bali, Indonesia in December, 2011. Rampersad has been examining and critiquing national and international policy instruments, including UNESCO mechanisms, and devising mechanisms and recommendations for culture-centred development for more than a decade. She has also been engaged by various international and regional agencies to present her perspective and coordinate multisectoral examination of development issues, bringing together policy and decision-makers, academics, private sector, media and civil society on a range of fields including science, technology, communications, agriculture, gender among others. A journalist, and newspaper editor, her research and recommendations are represented in UNESCO publications as well as the Commonwealth Foundation’s Putting Culture First Report; the culture reports of the ACP-EU (Africa, Pacific, Caribbean-European Union), and the International Who’s Who in Culture Policy Research among others. She is the author of the highly acclaimed LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago; Through the Political Glass Ceiling, and Finding a Place along with numerous print and new media journals and fora on culture, gender, literature, media and development. Rampersad is the Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO. http://www.caribbeanemagazine.com/2013/04/t-author-dr-kris-rampersad-on-unesco.html Trinidadian Named To UNESCO Group Published: Friday April 5, 2013 | 4:05 pm0 Comments PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Trinidadian author and educator, Dr Kris Rampersad is one of six international experts who will serve on the consultative body of the international Intern Governmental Committee on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The decision to appoint the experts was made at last December’s meeting of the InterGovernmental Committee in France and Rampersad was elected as Vice-Chair during the committee’s first meeting this week. As a member of this organ, she will participate in scrutinising applications to the UNESCO’s Register of Best Safeguarding Practices, the Urgent Safeguarding List and requests for international assistance in relation to Intangible Cultural Heritage. Rampersad is a UNESCO-trained expert towards helping communities strengthen mechanisms to safeguard their cultural heritage. She has been conducting capacity building exercises in this regard across the Caribbean, including in countries as Belize, Jamaica, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada. Rampersad has been examining and critiquing national and international policy instruments, including UNESCO mechanisms, and devising mechanisms and recommendations for culture-centred development for more than a decade. Rampersad, who is also the Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, has recently published “LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago”. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/extra/article.php?id=2297

ShameofSlaveryLettersToLizzie

Dear Lizzie,
Yeah, the shame runs deep and so too the damage done, so how do u begin to repair? more in Letters To Lizzie see https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal

See also:

Britain’s colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-colonial-shame-slaveowners-given-huge-payouts-after-abolition-8508358.html

The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.

The previously unseen records show exactly who received what in payouts from the Government when slave ownership was abolished by Britain – much to the potential embarrassment of their descendants. Dr Nick Draper from University College London, who has studied the compensation papers, says as many as one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy.
As a result, there are now wealthy families all around the UK still indirectly enjoying the proceeds of slavery where it has been passed on to them. Dr Draper said: “There was a feeding frenzy around the compensation.” A John Austin, for instance, owned 415 slaves, and got compensation of £20,511, a sum worth nearly £17m today. And there were many who received far more.
Academics from UCL, led by Dr Draper, spent three years drawing together 46,000 records of compensation given to British slave-owners into an internet database to be launched for public use on Wednesday. But he emphasised that the claims set to be unveiled were not just from rich families but included many “very ordinary men and women” and covered the entire spectrum of society.
Dr Draper added that the database’s findings may have implications for the “reparations debate”. Barbados is currently leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families.
Among those revealed to have benefited from slavery are ancestors of the Prime Minister, David Cameron, former minister Douglas Hogg, authors Graham Greene and George Orwell, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the new chairman of the Arts Council, Peter Bazalgette. Other prominent names which feature in the records include scions of one of the nation’s oldest banking families, the Barings, and the second Earl of Harewood, Henry Lascelles, an ancestor of the Queen’s cousin. Some families used the money to invest in the railways and other aspects of the industrial revolution; others bought or maintained their country houses, and some used the money for philanthropy. George Orwell’s great-grandfather, Charles Blair, received £4,442, equal to £3m today, for the 218 slaves he owned.
The British government paid out £20m to compensate some 3,000 families that owned slaves for the loss of their “property” when slave-ownership was abolished in Britain’s colonies in 1833. This figure represented a staggering 40 per cent of the Treasury’s annual spending budget and, in today’s terms, calculated as wage values, equates to around £16.5bn.
A total of £10m went to slave-owning families in the Caribbean and Africa, while the other half went to absentee owners living in Britain. The biggest single payout went to James Blair (no relation to Orwell), an MP who had homes in Marylebone, central London, and Scotland. He was awarded £83,530, the equivalent of £65m today, for 1,598 slaves he owned on the plantation he had inherited in British Guyana.
But this amount was dwarfed by the amount paid to John Gladstone, the father of 19th-century prime minister William Gladstone. He received £106,769 (modern equivalent £83m) for the 2,508 slaves he owned across nine plantations. His son, who served as prime minister four times during his 60-year career, was heavily involved in his father’s claim.
Mr Cameron, too, is revealed to have slave owners in his family background on his father’s side. The compensation records show that General Sir James Duff, an army officer and MP for Banffshire in Scotland during the late 1700s, was Mr Cameron’s first cousin six times removed. Sir James, who was the son of one of Mr Cameron’s great-grand-uncle’s, the second Earl of Fife, was awarded £4,101, equal to more than £3m today, to compensate him for the 202 slaves he forfeited on the Grange Sugar Estate in Jamaica.
Another illustrious political family that it appears still carries the name of a major slave owner is the Hogg dynasty, which includes the former cabinet minister Douglas Hogg. They are the descendants of Charles McGarel, a merchant who made a fortune from slave ownership. Between 1835 and 1837 he received £129,464, about £101m in today’s terms, for the 2,489 slaves he owned. McGarel later went on to bring his younger brother-in-law Quintin Hogg into his hugely successful sugar firm, which still used indentured labour on plantations in British Guyana established under slavery. And it was Quintin’s descendants that continued to keep the family name in the limelight, with both his son, Douglas McGarel Hogg, and his grandson, Quintin McGarel Hogg, becoming Lord Chancellor.
Dr Draper said: “Seeing the names of the slave-owners repeated in 20th‑century family naming practices is a very stark reminder about where those families saw their origins being from. In this case I’m thinking about the Hogg family. To have two Lord Chancellors in Britain in the 20th century bearing the name of a slave-owner from British Guyana, who went penniless to British Guyana, came back a very wealthy man and contributed to the formation of this political dynasty, which incorporated his name into their children in recognition – it seems to me to be an illuminating story and a potent example.”
Mr Hogg refused to comment yesterday, saying he “didn’t know anything about it”. Mr Cameron declined to comment after a request was made to the No 10 press office.
Another demonstration of the extent to which slavery links stretch into modern Britain is Evelyn Bazalgette, the uncle of one of the giants of Victorian engineering, Sir Joseph Bazalgette and ancestor of Arts Council boss Sir Peter Bazalgette. He was paid £7,352 (£5.7m in today’s money) for 420 slaves from two estates in Jamaica. Sir Peter said yesterday: “It had always been rumoured that his father had some interests in the Caribbean and I suspect Evelyn inherited that. So I heard rumours but this confirms it, and guess it’s the sort of thing wealthy people on the make did in the 1800s. He could have put his money elsewhere but regrettably he put it in the Caribbean.”
The TV chef Ainsley Harriott, who had slave-owners in his family on his grandfather’s side, said yesterday he was shocked by the amount paid out by the government to the slave-owners. “You would think the government would have given at least some money to the freed slaves who need to find homes and start new lives,” he said. “It seems a bit barbaric. It’s like the rich protecting the rich.”
The database is available from Wednesday at: ucl.ac.uk/lbs.
Cruel trade
Slavery on an industrial scale was a major source of the wealth of the British empire, being the exploitation upon which the West Indies sugar trade and cotton crop in North America was based. Those who made money from it were not only the slave-owners, but also the investors in those who transported Africans to enslavement. In the century to 1810, British ships carried about three million to a life of forced labour.
Campaigning against slavery began in the late 18th century as revulsion against the trade spread. This led, first, to the abolition of the trade in slaves, which came into law in 1808, and then, some 26 years later, to the Act of Parliament that would emancipate slaves. This legislation made provision for the staggering levels of compensation for slave-owners, but gave the former slaves not a penny in reparation.
More than that, it said that only children under six would be immediately free; the rest being regarded as “apprentices” who would, in exchange for free board and lodging, have to work for their “owners” 40 and a half hours for nothing until 1840. Several large disturbances meant that the deadline was brought forward and so, in 1838, 700,000 slaves in the West Indies, 40,000 in South Africa and 20,000 in Mauritius were finally liberated.
David Randall

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/we-must-be-honest-about-our-role-in-slavery-8508357.html
DR NICK DRAPER Sunday 24 February 2013
We must be honest about our role in slavery
Britain’s view of its involvement in slavery is that we abolished the slave trade and we abolished slavery, and that we were the first nation to do either of these things.If you ask almost anybody for free association around the words Britain and slavery, they’ll tell you: “Wilberforce”, “abolition” and then perhaps something about the Caribbean or Africa, and it will be in that order because that’s what we’ve been brought up to think about. So what our work is doing is trying to re-inscribe slavery into Britain’s history, rather than leaving the only connection between the two as abolition.We’re not saying that Britain as a whole was created by slavery – that is not tenable as an argument. But we are saying that slavery had a material part to play in the formation of modern Britain.We are arguing that a significant minority of the aristocracy and business drew its wealth reasonably directly from slavery and slave ownership, but the objective of this work is not to point fingers at families or firms. It is instead to establish an empirical basis of knowledge common to all. Public perceptions will change only if pieces of work such as ours are done and then injected into the public domain.We’re not going to transform people’s view of British history, but we might contribute to a transformation that could take place over 10 or 15 years. It would be to move to a new consensus, which is that Britain was a major slave-trading and slave-owning power for more than 200 years and that that period significantly contributed, through industrialisation driven in part by the transfer of wealth from expropriation of enslaved people’s labour, to the emergence of modern Britain.
Dr Nick Draper is research associate on the ‘Legacies of British Slavery Ownership Project’ at University College London

Heritage Convention workshop ends on positive note – stakeholders meet President

A plan of action to preserve Guyana’s loyalty upon ratifying the 2003 Convention on Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage was advanced at the end of a two-day workshop hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
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Programme Specialist in Culture at the UNESCO Cluster Officer in Jamaica Himalchuli Gurung presents a book to President Donald Ramotar, in the presence of Minister of Culture Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, Director of Culture Dr James Rose and Secretary General for the Guyana National Commission for UNESCO Inge Nathoo

With Consultant Dr. Kris Rampersad facilitating, stakeholders at the workshop were able to map out a step-by-step process by which Guyana can safeguard its intangible cultural heritage. A key element will include involvement of community stakeholders where it is believed the wealth of knowledge about things cultural is guarded and the holders of that culture can be easily identified.
Dr. Rampersad, a media cultural and literary consultant, researcher and writer, who brought the good news to President Donald Ramotar, yesterday,  said the community component is a principal element.
“We are all on board with what these conventions can do for Guyana… in terms of activating the communities to take charge of their cultures, knowing how in Guyana some of the communities are so remote and the fact that some of the cultures are disappearing so quickly, not just with erosion from outside influences, but just from the mere fact that the young people are no longer interested,” Dr. Rampersaud said.
The workshop was deemed a success as it was well attended, lively and informative, according to Director of Culture Dr James Rose, who joined Minister of Culture Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony in yesterday’s courtesy call on President Ramotar.
The visiting team, which also included Programme Specialist in Culture at the UNESCO Cluster Officer in Jamaica Himalchuli Gurung, and Secretary General for the Guyana National Commission for UNESCO Inge Nathoo, engaged in meaningful dialogue with President Ramotar on the importance of preserving Guyana’s cultural heritage and the procedures and implications of ratifying the Convention.
In 2006, the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into force, with 149 member states as of January 2013 adopting.
It is based on the goals of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, ensuring respect for the intangible cultural heritage of communities, groups and individuals concerned, raising awareness of and appreciation for the importance of the intangible cultural heritage at local, national and international levels, and providing international cooperation and assistance. 
http://www.guyanachronicleonline.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55504:heritage-convention-workshop-ends-on-positive-note–stakeholders-meet-president&catid=2:news&Itemid=3

Intangible cultural heritage workshop very successful

Intangible cultural heritage workshop very successful-Minister Anthony
Georgetown, GINA, February 15, 2013
The Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO’s) two-day stakeholders’ workshop to raise public awareness of intangible cultural heritage has been deemed very successful by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony.
The ministry with support from UNESCO’s Kingston office launched the workshop at the Umana Yana on February 12, as part of this year’s Mashramani activities with the objective of creating public awareness of Guyana ratifying the 2003 Convention for safeguarding of the country’s cultural heritage.
Minister Anthony, Director of Culture Dr. James Rose, UNESCO, Programme Specialist in Culture, Himalchuli Gurung and Media/Literary/Cultural Consultant and Facilitator of the Workshop Dr. Kris Rampersaud this afternoon briefed the press on the result of the initiative.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, Director of Culture Dr. James Rose, UNESCO, Programme Specialist in Culture, Himalchuli Gurung and Media/Literary/Cultural Consultant and Facilitator of the Workshop Dr. Kris Rampersaud. The workshop sought to raise public awareness of intangible cultural heritage

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, Director of Culture Dr. James Rose, UNESCO, Programme Specialist in Culture, Himalchuli Gurung and Media/Literary/Cultural Consultant and Facilitator of the Workshop Dr. Kris Rampersaud. The workshop sought to raise public awareness of intangible cultural heritage
Minister Anthony said it was an important workshop that helped the participants to understand and better appreciate what the convention is about, and its role in protecting intangible heritage.
“Now we are better able to appreciate the value of the convention to a country like ours,” Minister Anthony said. “We thought that it was important to bring various stakeholders in, because by making people a little more aware of what is taking place in the world and what can be done locally, will help us to move this forward.”
Minister Anthony said that the dialogue that took place during the workshop would have caused Guyana to seriously consider ratifying the convention.
He also expressed gratitude for the UNESCO partnership and said that the ministry looks forward to other such joint ventures including one towards making Georgetown a Heritage site.
As a result of the workshop the participants committed and formed themselves into a National Stakeholder Awareness group towards promoting the convention across Guyana. A National Action Plan towards this objective was also reached.
Dr. Rose described the workshop as “two days of excellent interchange. The workshop helped us to better appreciate all the implications of the ratification. It helped us to become more conscious of the value, variety, diversity of Guyana’s intangible cultural heritage and the workshop gave us an opportunity to recommit ourselves to safeguarding that rich legacy which we hope to pass on to generations to come,” he said.
He said, the ministry was pleased with the participants’ commitment to working steadfastly towards seeing that Guyana ratifies the convention and doing everything possible locally and where necessary networking with regional and international bodies to ensure that Guyana’s intangible culture heritage is protected, promoted, studied and valued.
Dr. Rampersaud, in going through what took place in those two-days said that it was very commendable of the Guyana Government to first seek to bring public awareness of the convention before signing on.
“Often times we find in the region that countries go into things, ratify and then the public hears about it,” she said.
“Kudos for your country and Government that it needed to bring this before the public and lay out what are the terms and conditions of it, the implications,” Dr. Rampersaud added.
Gurung said that as of January 2013, the 2003 convention has been ratified by 149 countries around the world. “It is really gaining popularity because of its significance for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage,” she said.
Gurung said that UNESCO defines intangible heritage culture as living heritage and intangible culture is culture manifested through various forms including rituals, practices, and performing arts.
http://gina.gov.gy/wp/?p=7790

Stakeholders’ workshop seeks to raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage

Stakeholders’ workshop seeks to raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage
Georgetown, GINA, February 12, 2013
The Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport in collaboration with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO’s) Kingston office for the Caribbean, Jamaica and the National Commission for UNESCO Guyana, today launched a two-day stakeholders’ workshop to raise awareness on the 2003 convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage.
This workshop which is being held at the Umana Yana is part of this year’s Mashramani activities held under the theme, “Reflecting Creativity, Embracing Diversity”.
Books on display about Guyana’s history at the stakeholders’ workshop at the Umana Yana

Books on display about Guyana’s history at the stakeholders’ workshop at the Umana Yana
The convention is one of seven held in the field of culture and is intended to ensure respect for intangible cultural heritage of communities, groups and individuals, to raise awareness and appreciation of the importance of such heritage and to provide for international cooperation and assistance.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who declared the workshop open said that intangible things are of great importance in today’s society, and that the world today is truly coming together rapidly as one. “This is a good thing, this is something that many have been calling for all along, but there is the realisation that different cultures and languages may be dropped as the world becomes one,” the Prime Minister said.
The Caribbean with its four to five hundred years of turbulent history around slavery and indentured labourers has created a small area where the world has been coming together.
Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds delivering remarks at the launch of the stakeholders’ workshop at the Umana Yana

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds delivering remarks at the launch of the stakeholders’ workshop at the Umana Yana
PM Hinds highlighted that Government realises that culture is an important aspect of nation building, and lauded the Culture Ministry for its effort to make cultural activities relevant to the country.
Facilitator Dr. Kris Rampersad said that the workshop will explore the interrelation between and among the conventions, particularly, what these conventions have in store for the people of Guyana, and work towards implementing them.
She explained that participants will have a chance to learn how these conventions could strengthen policies, infrastructure, legislations, and the policy framework.
“We have the knowledge and the experiences that we can share with the rest of the world and we can use these mechanisms that UNESCO offers to do that,” she said.
Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds receives a copy of a book on intangible culture

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds receives a copy of a book on intangible culture
This programme started in 2006, and the domains covered by the convention include, oral expression and tradition, performing arts, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and traditional craftsmanship. At present, 149 countries have ratified this convention and 65 persons have been trained as facilitators.
“If you know what tangible culture is and how important it is, then you become more committed to it,” said Director of Culture Dr. James Rose. He encouraged persons to participate in this edifying workshop which will be of great benefit to them.
The work shop is being held under the theme, “Safeguarding our human treasure from generation to generation”.

The Tomb Raiders …. Return to the Quest for El Dorado

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Tombraiding has been Hollywood glamourised through the Indiana Joneses and Lara Crofts and a range of new video games that play on this land-based version of the kind of piracy that used to prevail on the high seas around the Caribbean. And it dates back to the Caribbean as a target in the quest for El Dorado so many millennia ago. Not to be confused with body snatchers, it ranges from the activities of hobbyists seemingly innocently eager to hoard a bit of history so they comb graveyards to gather bits and pieces from or off tombs, to petty thieves looking to earn a quick shilling, to highly organised crime networks trading in black market heritage goods with complicity by individual collectors or even museum dealers participating in a very lucrative heritage trade market.
It has been a raison d’etre of interest in the Caribbean since

See Also: http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2012/10/centuries-old-heritage-tomb-spanning.html#more

https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books
the first European explorers cast their eyes in this direction in the quest for El Dorado. With the world re-awakening to the value of culture and heritage and the Caribbean being a repository of histories and heritage of migrant streams from all the continents of the world, El Dorado is not just the bullion or traditional objects of value as gold and jewelry, but artefacts that may be believed to fetch high prices in the world market, or become part of heritage collections that may one day be sold to museums and archives for high prices. These lie underwater, on land, in documents and in the oral memory and traditions we hold.

This siphoning out of such assets and heritage, deprive local communities and populations of enjoyment and appreciation of their heritage but also of creating and generating incomes from legitimate heritage-based industries and activities. It was partly in response to this that UNESCO developed its albeit convoluted sets of conventions related to protection of natural, cultural, built, knowledge and information heritage, assets all aligned to a complex series of processes and procedures and international legal instruments. (See list below.) 

It is the stuff of movies, but as real as daylight. A range of these activities have gone unmonitored in Trinidad and Tobago, and indeed much of the Caribbean.
With little or no oversight mechanisms in place, it is virtually open season for heritage hunters and hoarders, regardless of motivation, to gather and dispose of as they wish – evidence of which we encountered on the inaugural LiTTour – Journeys Through Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago and described in the previous blog. 
Inadequate local legislation, deficient local structures and institutions, incompetent monitoring and enforcement authorities all contribute to making this a lucrative activity. High sounding national plans with little supportive resources, funds or mechanisms for implementation become recipes for failure.
Historic animosities fostered and entrenched between and among our populations also transfer to institutions that have grown up around heritage often piecemeal and hardly thought-out. Several institutions, most of them with overlapping jurisdictions, duplicate each other’s activities, holding heritage assets in a stranglehold whereby none can adequately perform their functions, and none can benefit. For instance there are at least six  public institutions, and several private ones and individuals with listings of heritage assets, duplicating each other with very little coordination among them.
Suspicion, mistrust, lack of confidence hang over these institutions which include bureaucratic government departments, agencies that include such front line institutions charged with guarding such assets as the National Trust and museum.
Indeed, an archaic museum model, run on a massa-type structure, borrowed from an old colonial rule (when those countries have evolved significantly more sophisticated systems) designed for a time when a country could have boasted of a single national museum still prevail, when a number of district and private museums now form part of the collective heritage system.
Even those charged with safeguarding heritage, foster a patronage approach and jealously guard their territory in obstructionist stances, holding culture and heritage in their deathgrips when they could be better served through collaboration and cooperation to release the full potential of the heritage sector for the development of communities.
Actions for heritage have in the large been shortsighted, piecemeal, often reactive, crisis oriented, a stop gap response to an immediate situation to avoid embarrassment or deflect from public rage until such rage can be redirected elsewhere and generally not thought out in ways that they can be of lasting and permanent benefit. And most are all-too-willing to state it is someone else’s problem and leave it there.
Deficiencies in the line agencies charged with heritage preservation Government agencies like the Trust itself, which is key as a frontline institution in heritage preservation and which glaring deficiencies have gone without being addressed for years.
But if you were to talk with anyone in the Trust, (s)he would also be pointing fingers in several other directions, including other government ministries and departments, who are also pointing at each other, the  National Museum of the lack of a proper museum system operating on an archaic model at a time when museums can no longer be regarded as static doormat institutions but are an active part of our living heritage (and maybe both point to one and the same obstacle).
I have spoken to several conservationists prior to and during this aroused interest in the Ganteaume tombs and the deep degree of distrust and lack of and loss of faith in the public institutions charged with heritage conservation (among others) and whose frustrations are no less than mine or my associates on that tour – and all with various degrees of a sense of powerlessness. Some have even also become tomb and beach combers and hoarders of heritage, taking for “safekeeping” because the institutions and persons charged with this function are not doing so. The argument that such activity helps in safeguarding such heritage predates the great battle between Egypt and England over the Sphinx or the Greek and British over the Elgin Marbles or the Indians and British over the Koh-i-noor Diamonds.  
And if you were to ask almost anyone in the conservation and heritage arena, they would tell you that the solution is with the local authorities – local NGOs or local Government who are falling short; or politicians or Government Ministries, Minister and officers; or the private sector (and as the old European childhood story says, ‘another ant took another grain of corn’ – lots of action and noise and committees and reports with no progress and no solution); at least no solution in which each sees himself/herself/themselves as a pivotal point to the problem(s). 
And therein is the problem: if we cannot take personal responsibility then of course, we have the situation like the McLeod House demolition; or the Ganteaume tomb, shedding tears after the fact and then go back to our business and lives until the next person highlight some other act of defacement or destruction.
How can we harness the energies of all the enthusiasts and institutions and others with direct and indirect interest to move forward with sustainable solutions and actions?
As I communicated to Mr Ganteaume, none of it is beyond any of us; it has been done by hundreds of other nations of the world; some much less resourced and much less enriched by the multidimensional and microcosmic heritage that we enjoy in Trinidad and Tobago; except that we often do not see it as such, but instead prefer to treat it as an albatross that some of us would prefer to pretend is a burden of no real significance.
The solution is to get on the same page.
From the range of all very positive and encouraging responses: ‘likes’ and comments and suggestions and emails and calls and contributions – I have received from around the globe on my last posting on the defaced tombstone in Mayaro, including some very distressed Ganteaume family members, it is clear that national sentiment for protection and conservation of heritage assets are high.
So why aren’t we doing something about it?
While we sit around in committees in grand talk sessions, drafting communiqués and reports, and plan PR site visits Rome burns, or rather, McLoed House is demolished and the tombraiders gather up their loot from graveyards and some of the other most valuable heritage around us and literally under our noses. I am heartened by the many responses I have had from persons who have been labouring, many of them behind the scenes, in heritage, and want to see us move forward in this in a constructive and positive manner, including Mr Henry Peter Ganteaume himself who has expressed an openness to help us work towards solutions. This is not an effort for any one of us; but for all of us. If we succeed in this, we have all of us to thank for it; if not, we then become little more than tombraiders. .krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books




The UNESCO Conventions and Instruments:
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