Use Memory of the World resource to transform education curriculum

Remarks, Dr Kris Rampersad,
Chair, Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO at the Opening of UNESCO Pan-Caribbean Consultative Workshop on Memory of the World
Port of Spain, Trinidad, 25-27 September 2013
On behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO welcome to this Pan Caribbean consultative workshop on UNESCO Memory of the World initiative. While we are a national commission with essentially a national mandate, we also take very seriously our role as a member of the Caribbean community and the wider UNESCO region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
As we mark this year the 21st anniversary of the Memory of the World programme and 13th anniversary of the Memory of the World Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, it is perhaps timely for us to reflect on where we have reached with the programme.
In the short 13 years since, eight countries from the Commonwealth Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, St Kitts, Jamaica, Guyana, Dominica, Barbados, and the Bahamas) have inscribed 21 collections of documentary heritage on the International Memory of the World Register and twenty five collections on the Regional Register.
We tend to think of the University of the West Indies and Cricket as two main elements I am sure you will agree that this has offered us an opportunity to collaborate as a region in the 13 joint nominations submitted among several of our countries – and these by four national committees in Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and certainly I want to particularly recognise the work of the Trinidad and Tobago National Memory of the World Committee under the stewardship of Mrs Joan Osborne.
But much work still to be done in public engagement and to draw out private collectors and archivists to present their work for consideration so we can have broad representation of the diversity of cultures, languages and heritage.
Last year’s meeting underscored the need for greater involvement by countries in the Caribbean, and to support each other. Through the work of the Trinidad and Tobago national memory of the world committee we have enlisted:
—  The Derek Walcott Collection
—  The Eric Williams Collection
—  The C.L.R. James Collection
—  Registry of Slaves of the British Caribbean
—  Records of Indian Indentured Labourersof Trinidad and Tobago
—  The Constantine Collection
—  The Donald ‘Jackie’ Hinkson Collection
—  The Carlisle Chang Collection
—  The Digital Pan Archive
—  Records of Indian Indentured Labourers of Trinidad and Tobago 1845-1917
—  The Samuel Selvon Collection
At the MOWLAC meeting in Port of Spain 2012 the concern was raised of the involvement of countries in the region in the programme and how to encourage the creation of national committees and the number of nominations coming from the region. It was found that there was greater need for collaboration since in some countries the MOW programme was not visible and professionals and owners of collections did not know how to complete the nomination forms.
We should also recognise that much of the critical documentary heritage reside not only within the region but also in internationally-based institutions.
We hope this workshop will meet with similar success of preceding workshops in which nine inscriptions followed the 2009 workshop in Barbados, for example.
We note among the objectives of this is to strengthen the memory of the world programme through greater awareness, to increase nominations at the national, regional and international levels; and to develop an action agenda and a CARICOM MOW action plan for 2013- 2015.
I suggest that among the latter you also take a look at the current draft CARICOM-UNESCO memorandum of agreement and suggest any alternations you may need to make to the text relevant to accommodate the region’s outlook for the memory of the world programme within that MOU to be signed between Caricom and UNESCO at the General Assembly in November.
We know there are many, many areas in which we need to focus the heritage and I’d like to also stir attention away from the printed heritage which we all know limits us to the last few hundred years to other elements of record also recognised by the memory of the world register – to also consider other forms of documentation – items on stone, craft, recordings, visuals.
As we know, UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 from a growing awareness of the poor state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in various parts of the world – looting and dispersal, illegal trading, destruction, inadequate housing and funding have all played a part. Much has vanished forever; much is endangered. So a core element is to raise public awareness and mobilise communities to capture and preserve and promote respect and understanding.
In the region, we need to move quickly to secure our endangered archives – and I draw attention to the invaluable collections of the military history museum in Chaguaramas that contains information on the connections between our islands and South America, unrecorded elsewhere, and which can further expand  the recent inscriptions by Cuba of the  Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara, and Columbia’s of Francisco De Miranda and Simon Bolivar and it may be useful to supplement that with the archives of Mr Gaylord Kelshall of the Military History Museum who has researched and written extensively about this period which though recent, has still not been injected into teachings on our history and as the Minister of Education is here with us I’d like to recommend that we look at this immense UNESCO resource and work to revising the materials in the school curriculum – in history, social studies, civics, visual and performing arts, among others. This presents us with an opportunity to revise our textbooks using new research and information s there is need to establish critical synergies between archiving and education soWebiste is not just fossilised – and consider utilising this model of engagement between ministry of education, archive and library and the school system.
I’d also like to suggest that you consider how we may establish a facility to resource and fund acquisition and maintenance of public and private collections: like those of the Chaguaramas Military History Museum, and dozens of others in private collections and establish linkages with these.

And we also need to place some emphasis on capture yet undocumented heritage and utilise digitisation and engage the enthusiasm of our young people to collate data from disappearing knowledge holders.
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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!

Take back communities from so-called leaders

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Take back schools and communities from so-called community leaders, chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Kris Rampersad told educators last week.

She was addressing the closing ceremony of a joint initiative by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education in Port of Spain for pilot training of some 125 principals, school supervisors and teachers.

kris_rampersad2.jpg
Dr Kris Rampersad, Chair of Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO

“For too long our children have been kidnapped and our society has been hijacked and held to ransom by bandits and criminals who are held up as community leaders and to whom, tragically, the society now seems to be turning for advice to address the very problems they create. You are the community leaders,” Rampersad told the graduates, before they were presented certificates of completion of the course, Leading for Literacy Now!

“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 as leaders or been forced out of them by other social pressures,” she continued.

The educators participated in a pilot training in leadership skills training towards improving literacy levels beginning with primary schools with special focus on teachers of Infant I and II. A national call was made by the Commission through the Education Ministry and the participants were selected from voluntary applicants.

“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!” Rampersad said.

She noted that the course has helped equip and tool principals and teachers to return to the new school term with fresh perspectives and approaches to face some of the challenges they may confront.

The exercise was conducted by facilitators from the UK-based National Training College for School Leadership with financial and other technical support from UNESCO, the Ministry of Education, the National Commission, BMobile and the Army Leadership Training Centre of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment.

“We ask you to use what you have learnt here to not just influence but to transform the directions of our education system and by extension our society as well,” Rampersad urged, noting a growing nervousness in the society enveloped in a wind of change that is causing considerable restless and which requires solid management of the processes of change and transformation.

Acknowledging that the problems facing educators are many, and not insignificant, she challenged the trainees to take their learning back to school and expressed the hope to see positive results by as early as the end of the first term – by December 2013.

“Three months is a very long time in the life of a child, and we know how much they can learn in short a short period. We need to capture their minds and imaginations before someone else does,” Rampersad pointed out.

She said the participants will be engaged in continuous assessment and will share their experiences and recommendations for expanding the programme to all schools and districts of Trinidad and Tobago, adding that commitment for such support has already been expressed by the Ministry of Education.

“We do not deny that the challenges are many and these times demand all our energies and intelligence to manage the changes that are inevitable. We have to ensure that such management occurs and we do not have the negative repercussions as we are witnessing taking place in Egypt and Syria and elsewhere. Let us manage and redirect the changes that are inevitable, drawing from your wisdom and experiences to positively impact our youth and harness their restless energies for change,” Rampersad said. “It will require open-mindedness, flexibility and a lot of patience.”

She also noted that, once the expected results are realised, the Commission hopes to be able to hold up Leading for Literacy Now this as a model project to UNESCO to share with the Caribbean and its global community.

https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal
 http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Take-back-communities-from-so-called-leaders%2C-says-Trinidad-UNESCO-chair-17393.html

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WINDS of POLITICAL CHANGE Previous blog on Demokrssy

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Winds of Political Change – Dawn of T&T’s Arab Spring

When the meteorologist theorised that the cloudy, hazy days of the dry season in our region could be attributed to dust clouds from way across the Arabian dessert, he was – as many-a-novel-idea-throughout history has been – scoffed at laughed away for a number of years. But now, that theory is entrenched in descriptions of the weather patterns and conditions of this part of the world. Some modern geography texts and the guide books of some of the countries of the Caribbean, South America and the Amazon tell of the amazing displacement of dust from the Sahara desert more than half way across the world: Sahara Dust.
I am not sure if you are feeling it, but there are some breezes, some fresh, some even containing some disruptive dust elements, that are again blowing from across the desert over there, this, our way. And these are not seasonal. They feel much like the breezes of the Arab Spring – that have swept through the Middle East and Africa – Libya, Burma, Egypt, Tunisia, Côte d’ivoire, Guinea, Yemen, Lesotho, Senegal, Malawi and Sierra Leone. In some others, the breezes were still heavily laden with dust, there were setbacks for freedom – Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. It has also spread with positive change in Bhutan, Indian Kashmir Mongolia and Tonga.
Wherever these breezes have passed, they have left in their wake wide ranging social and political changes: one the one hand toppling long time leaders with rising decibels from previously suppressed peoples demanding a stronger voice in their own governance and opening up new opportunities for reform in countries otherwise marked by severe abuses of fundamental rights and civil liberties.
Such additional demands on governments and public and private institutions for greater transparency, accountability, responsibility, fairness, balance and equity, performance and delivery of goods and services are pressuring not only so called anti democracies but also well established democracies of Americas, Europe and Asia. But in other parts there is a backlash and the breezes have been met with counter reprisals of oppressive curbs to civil liberties, human rights and freedoms.

So do you feel it? Here I mean, in the Caribbean. Or is it that we are in that time lag – between being informed and accepting the information? Given that unlike other countries we perhaps have some lead time to prepare, have we considered in any cohesive way what our response would be: do we want to embrace this or shut the door on it – because, to quote a former Prime Minister, speaking in a similar context – no one shall remain unscathed…. 

Next: Addressing the Democratic Deficit
See….the dawn of Trinidad and Tobago’s Arab Spring…..read more in The Clash of Political Cultures – Cultural Diversity & Minority Politics in Trinidad and Tobago in Through the Political Glass Ceiling. Get Your Copy today Order NOW  SPECIAL ELECTION DISCOUNT; email lolleaves@gmail.com;  visit https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal or visit Demokrissy: http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com

BioCultural synergies at LiTTribute to LondonTTown

The ecology, literature, culture, sustainable development and their convergence in Caribbean fiction will feature at LiTTribute to LondonTTown to take place in London on Monday (July 15).
The symbolic and actual representations of nature in fiction from the section NaTTurescapes in LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad will be among the highlights of the literary tribute that aims at exploring new approaches to culture-centred development.
Among those to participate in the LiTTribute will be Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, Vijay Krishnarayan, the Trinidad-born former head of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute who has worked with civil society to devise actions for sustainable development through land-use planning.
BBC World Have Your Say Host, Ros Atkins and London-based Caribbean author, Lakshmi Persaud will also present perspectives on cultural linkages across the Atlantic.
High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Garvin Nicholas views the event as an important platform for highlighting the complex history and fascinating social landscape of Trinidad and Tobago to a British audience and notes that In ‘Littscapes’, Dr. Rampersad has brought to light Trinidad and Tobago’s rich literary tradition and unique heritage.
As has been the vision behind production of LiTTscapes, LiTTous and LiTTributes, this will demonstrate the connectivities between and among what may seem widely disparate subjects and disassociated development challenges. These may be peculiar to our national communities but the also have resonance internationally. This has been the thread that runs through our activities and the book itself which explores the natural environment, peoples, lifestyles in the context of fiction.
As has been done in LiTTributes held earlier this year – to the Mainland in Guyana and to the Antilles in Antigua  – this will encourage  rethinking how we may better engage with and utilise the rich literary outpourings as represented in LiTTscapes to develop synergies with the international community for social and economic development in film, music, entertainment and education sectors.
LiTTscapes represents this relationship from the earliest writings of Sir Walter Raleigh to the current day among the 100-plus works by more than 60 writers, including those who made London their home such as Naipaul, Selvon, Lakshmi Seetaram-Persaud and others. For invitations to LiTTribute to LondonTTown email lolleaves@gmail.com.
LiTTscapes has been acclaimed as a groundbreaking pictoral yet encyclopaedic compendium of the lifestyles, landscapes, architecture, cultures, festivals and institutions in its full colour easy reading documentary/travelogue/biography representation of Trinidad and Tobago and its fiction as represented in more than 100 fictional works by some 60 writers.
LiTTribute to LondonTTown follows on the recent LiTTribute to the Antilles staged in Antigua in March,  LiTTurgy to the Mainland in Guyana in February, and LiTTribute to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, hosted by the First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards and Dr Rampersad in September 2012. LiTTscapes was launched at White Hall – one of Trinidad and Tobago’s Magnificent Seven buildings as part of the islands 50th anniversary of independence in August 2012.
LiTTscapes is Rampersad’s third book and follows Finding a Place and Through The Political Glass Ceiling; a fourth Letters to Lizzie, an exploration of empire making and colonialism in the contexts of the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and the golden jubilee of Trinidad and Tobago’s independence is to be released shortly.
For invitations and details Email: lolleaves@gmail.com. See: kris-rampersad.blogspot.com, https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal;  facebook.com/kris.rampersad1.

Diplomats enjoy stimulating LiTTour of Trinidad’s CiTTyscape through LiTTscapes

While Charlie King Junction in Fyzabad South Trinidad was reliving the labour struggles of the early 20th century that preceded Independence, Ambassadors, diplomats, their spouses and other enthusiasts enjoyed a simulating CiTTyscape LiTTour – Journey Through the Landscapes of Fiction of Trinidad and Tobago based on the book: LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad.

The tour, which began at the Lady Young Road, circumvented through Barataria, the Beetham, Port of Spain and the Queen’s Park Savannah to give a rare glimpse of the island and its capital through the eyes of fiction writers and fictional characters. The group explored the city landscapes, mindscapes, institutions, festivals, and the islands’ history, politics, economy, culture and society from the perspectives of a range of writers and thinkers from as early as 1595 to present day. The tour covered a range of fictional vision and works of writers as Samuel Selvon, Lawrence Scott, CLR James, Alfred Mendes, Michael Anthony, James Isaiah Boodhoo, Earl Lovelace, VS Naipaul, Derek Walcott, Ismith Khan, Lakshmi Persaud-Seetaram. Sir Walter Raleigh, and many others of the some 60 writers and more than 100 works represented in LiTTscapes.

Among those who participated were Excellencies, Ambassador of Japan Yoshimasa Tezuka and Mrs Tezuka; Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Wonkun Hwang and Mrs Kumdan Hwang; Jan Karlsson spouse of the Ambassador of the Netherlands; Anke Kessler, spouse of the Ambassador of Chile; members of Alliance Francais, musicians Katy Gainham and Eleanor Ryan; Ben Gilbert, son of the Security Adviser to the UN Department of Safety and Security for this region; artist Wendy Nanan and Alliance Francais Marie and Frank Abdullah.  The tour was facilitated by author and educator in Caribbean literature, culture and heritage

Dr Kris Rampersad in conjunction with the Public Transport Service Corporation Know Your Country tours. . Custommade LiTTours by request on any theme, subject, author or district through email lolleaves@gmail.com. For details see www.kris-rampersad.blogspot.com
 
 Above:CiTTyscape LiTTour enthusiasts aboard the bus for the Journeys Through the Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago inspired by the book LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago.
Below:  Author/Educator in Caribbean Literature, Culture and heritage Dr Kris Rampersad, musician Katy Gainham and wife of the Ambassador of Chile, Anke Kessler discuss LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago.
    

  

LetterstoLizzie #RoyalBaby, Princes Will & Harry My Jahajis Bhai

Dear Lizzie,
Found missing DNA link to my blue blood Jahaji Bhai #Prince Harry and William and Bahin Kate. Complete ClandestineConfessions in #LetterstoLizzie: Scandalous liaisons, concocted birth certificates and fabricated blood ties in our bloodline when our ancestors came west through Amenia from India via #EastIndiaCompany, a perilous and fatal journey for Jahaji Bahin, #Princess Diana, and Bahut Aajis great gran mamas Eliza Kewart and Katherine Scott…In Letters to Lizzie coming soon…

Welcome to the family #RoyalPrince:
Photo and story from Clarence House Website. This site claims no copyrights
http://www.dukeandduchessofcambridge.org/news-and-diary/the-duke-and-duchess-of-cambridge-leave-hospital-their-baby-son

Clan-destine confessions

I am a bastard. The name I carry is not the one I was born with. And I do not refer only to the truncated byline that accompanies this article.  See also prince-williams-indian-connections

(That was the Guardian’s doing. Days into what would turn out to be a career, not many moons ago, a dashing sub-editor faced me with the ultimatum of truncating my name or run the risk of not being credited for my articles. My given name would take up an entire paragraph, and space was a valuable newspaper asset, he argued, rather convincingly. I acquiesced. It reincarnated into Kris, his option over Krissy – that one had come in the late years of primary school, so christened by a teacher from “town,” fresh out of Training College.) For years I harboured clandestine thoughts that I was a bastard. In times when I wanted to disown my family, I convinced myself I was orphaned; on better days I savoured my secret – that I was a love child. While I combed her hair, made wavy from decades of plaiting, or massaged her back, I would smilingly indulge in this little secret I shared with my ma. She groaned approvingly every time I massaged an ache out. I dread to think what her real reaction would have been had I voiced my thoughts…But it was not just my imagination running wild. My bastardisation was the doing of the State. It began when I discovered my birth certificate a few weeks before sitting the Common Entrance examination. Under the column “Father’s name” there was a dash. Nothing else. A dash, then blank. Everyone assumed I was Rampersad because my many, many brothers and sisters carried one of my father’s names, and when you’re number 10 on the list you can’t really choose your name, or so they thought. I’d disprove it trice. Though all my official records made me his, his name was not on the birth certificate. Instead, that carefully rolled, still crisp but yellowing piece of paper ma kept in her secret place stated I was a Sookraj. Even when Rampersad went to the Red House in Port-of-Spain to swear I was his, I reserved the option of being Sookraj when I wanted. Really, I should be Kris (blank) or Kris — (dash). Three years ago, I again saw Sookraj named on paper. One then long-unknown cousin, Nelson Ramdeen, was tracing his maternal ancestors and it led him to my mother. He jotted down all our names, and the names of the children of my siblings, and the names of ma’s siblings, and their children, and her mother’s name, and her father’s name: Sookraj, a grandpa I had never known. Her unregistered Hindu marriage to my father not being recognised by law, not even 10 children later, I was stuck with her father’s name, her maiden name, hence her love child, and my romanticised bastard status. So Rampersad is the name that defines my place in a place that didn’t recognise my parents’ cultural relationships – an oral culture – but placed emphasis on things written. Writing made things real. In that way too, Moneah became real. From Ramdeen’s research, she popped to life. He traced my mother’s lineage to this faceless woman, who, for whatever reason, at age 22, from Dinapore village in Patna, India, packed her husband, Ramchurn, and her Jahaji bundle; boarded the Hougoumont on October 13, 1870; braved four months of treacherous, unfamiliar kala pani, to arrive in Trinidad four months, two days later – on February 15, 1871, one day after what would come to be known as Valentine’s Day. Thus began her love affair with Trinidad, which would outlive two husbands, spawn 10 (known) children, some 50 grandchildren (and counting, some blanks still exist); each of those had on average 40 grandchildren; each of those some 30 grands. Five generations later, I need a better capacity for math than I now possess to calculate Moneah’s contribution to Trinidad and Tobago’s voting and working population and to the Trinidad diaspora in North America, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Caribbean, which a rough estimate places beyond 5,000 human souls in various professions. (All except politics, the family jokes, and on the agenda is a motion to disown from Moneah’s lineage any who enters that profession at the next clan gathering – the first was three years ago, 130 years after Moneah’s arrival, so the next might not be until another century or so.) Moneah now lives: In the faces and the mannerisms and quirks of character of the some 3,000 women who can trace a bloodline to her. From what I know of some of those women in her lineage, I could see her, on Ramchurn’s death two and a half years after their landing, pulling her widowed orhini over her head and shrugging off considerations of becoming Suti and dying with her husband, saying, “Sati who? Mere nam, Moneah” (Meh name’s Moneah). She would mourn him properly in the traditionally defined ways, and two years later consort with our grandsire, Shewpersad, who said farewell to his cows and his village Semaie in Boodha, Gorukhpur, boarded the Brechin Castle (ship) on December 26, 1874, to Trinidad and 25 years of Moneah. Those two would seed Trinidad soil with cane and cabbages, pumpkins and pawpaws, and offspring like peas. Though only one of her sons, one great grandaughter, and two great, great grandsons would demonstrably exceed her level of fertility, the average offspring of each of the descendants over five generations stands around six. Several have inherited her genes of outliving husbands. They include beef-eating Hindus, pork-eating Muslims, bhajan-singing Christians; through their veins have flowed T&T’s coconut water and Carib, French wine, Scottish whisky, Japanese sake, India’s lassi, and whatever other beverages rage in the places they have settled and spawned their own dynasties – in the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and India. A solid bridge now stretches seven generations – each step boldly labelled – towards Moneah. Because we know her name.

Special LiTTour Port of Spain as never seen before June 19

Special LiTTour to Port of Spain. June  19, 2013. From 9 am. Duration 3 hours. By Invitation Only.
Experience Trinidad’s capital as never before through the eyes of fiction since 1595 by some 60 writers of more than 100 books.
Email your requests for information and details Call 1-868-377-0326 or email  lolleaves@gmail.com. Read/Listen to review by Professor Al Creighton, Head of Guyana Price for Literature Professor Al Creighton at:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151238027306800.519613.686406799&type=3

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.

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