Saturday, December 31, 2016

Beyond Despair The awakening with a sigh a song laughter lament tear thrill visioning the New Year

Through Sigh and song
Earthquake and earthsonng
Post truths and  premonitions
It remains a prophetic song, Sixteen Going on Seventeen as moving on from 2016 we begin to write on the empty page of 2017.
Though I am not sure it is anyone's wish to remain forever 2016 - a year many of us would like to put behind us as and the Sound of Music actress Charmian Carr did, saying So Long Farewell as we have all sung with her in the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fidid on September 18 2016 exiting our life's stage this year leaving us to Climb Every Mountain into Two Thousand and Seventeen.
Does any expression more adequately describe or entrance into this New Year as the lines from that song for our world: 
 Baby, it's time to think
Better beware, be canny and careful
Baby, you're on the brink
It may be well that we would wish to take some more lines off that  movie, Sound of Music, Let's start at the very beginning with the power that is within us all to be the change we want to be... and that emerging from the despair and darkness of a year that offered no hope, to one that seems to offer even less.
 Reviewing the old and welcoming the new, the end of one world order and the beginning of the new indeed it is let only on us we to make the new one sigh or a song, filled with lament or laughter, tears or  thrill - the answer can move us beyond despair with which the last year began and ended and offer hope in pitching for the new,in the evident awakening that is occurring.

While many face the prospects of diminishing prospects, job opportunities, one can summon up challenging circumstances, whether at personal, national or international levels, hope springs eternal if one can summon the strength within.
And who better to signal that, than one whose year began in despair and ends on a similar note at the sad state of affairs around us on very many levels....Yet, it seems to me that it is from such despair that hope springs.
Reviewing the posts of this year: the loss of close friends, and some, not so close and the celebration of new inscriptions, music, song dance, between the steupsing at the chupidty, 2017 is poised to be a year of awakening for not only teenage nations as ours which nevertheless still have the soundest lessons on addressing the thrills, trials and traumas of diversity and multiculturalism, as articulated here and elsewhere that older societies are only now rediscovering, as articulated in this post MultiKulti is Dead Long Live MultiKulti.
So to say so long farewell to the old and in with the new and wishing all peace, prosperity and progress,  I leave you with the inspirational lyrics for all times to face the challenges, and there will be many, I am sure, of 2017:
Climb every mountain
Search, high and low
Follow every byway
Every path you know

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Till you find your dream

A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Till you find your dream

A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Till you find, your dream!


Here's a review of Demokrissy despair and dances of 2016:

Welcome the inscription of transposed traditions celebrating wedding rites of passage to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists
the crowing crowning or clowning over the anointment and trump and trumpeteers of power and change
see links and phtos to some highlights from this year in Demokrissy

http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/12/30-christmases-caroling-and-paranging.html

Dec
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/12/unpresidented-unpresidential-post.html
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/12/bhojpuri-wedding-folk-traditions_13.html

Dec 24
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/12/30-christmases-caroling-and-paranging.html

Nov 26
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/11/have-some-more-roti-kurry-and-chicken.html
Nov 24
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-littribute-at-unesco-celebration-of.html
Nov 18
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/11/lets-build-that-wall-great-wall-of-isms.html
Nov 13
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/11/american-winter-follows-autumn-in-paris.html
Oct 20
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/10/reconstructing-10-millennia-of-heritage.html
Aug 17
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/08/another-caribbean-country-moves-forward.html
July 27
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/07/barack-obama-admits-hilary-more_27.html
July 25
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/07/flotus-powers-up-hilary-clinton-campaign.html
July 20
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/07/caribbean-wins-one-more-from-unesco_20.html
July 2
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/07/former-pm-of-trinidad-and-tobago-dies.html
May 2
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2015/11/dawn-to-refining-culture-of-education.html
April 9
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/04/disconnecting-to-buy-local-for.html
April 3
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/04/beyond-boundary-west-indies-and-britain.html
Mar 26
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/03/open-letter-to-dr-anthony-sabga-saviour.html
Feb 26
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/02/death-of-knowledge-and-social.html
Feb 14
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/02/breezes-of-tropical-arab-spring-open.html
Feb 13
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/02/in-war-and-peace-from-hiroshima-to-home.html
Feb 12
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/02/turning-our-dreams-to-shame-rip-asami.html
Feb 12
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/02/focus-resources.html
Jan 27 2016
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2016/01/a-path-out-of-mayhem-and-murder.html









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Saturday, December 24, 2016

30 Christmases: Caroling and Paranging with Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present Future of Apparitions & Auld Lang Syne


I have always been home for Christmas, no matter how far away I roam.
The pieces represented here tell those tales, beginning with the genesis of my journalism morphed into literary endeavours, mapping as much the evolution of the society over the period as they do personal development and evolution as a writer.  The selection here are all close to my heart.
In a year that began and ended in sighs and for many a sense of despair – over not just public-induced  personal traumas as well as unfolding tragedies as the gruesome murders of the Japanese masquerader Asami Nagakiya and Shannon Banfield and all in between, reading and reviewing and reflecting on these are helping to position for the challenges that may come in the New Year that are sure to test one’s faith in the future of home. Sometimes it takes a long view to put things in perspective and position for the New Year, and hence these selections.

Genesis and Discovery: Christmas 1986-87
In the spirit of  colonial Discoverie, the Discover Trinidad & Tobago columns of 1986-1988 – one of my first series and one of which one a BWIA Media Award for Excellence in Journalism/Social and Political Commentary - became the forerunner to the writings & explorations that fed writings for AVM Television Series as Cross Country, Booktalk, Survival, & the AVM Special Report; other newspaper columns as Environment Friendly, In Gabilan, I Beg to Move, Between the Lines, the C Monologues, The Week That Was  etc, all of which partly fed the impulse of my thesis and book, Finding a Place; the introduction, A Clash of Political Cultures/Cultural Diversity and Minority Politics in Trinidad and Tobago in Through the Political Glass Ceiling and LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad & Tobago published in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Independence.

Trini Christmas – Reconstructing Nationhood from the ashes of the 1990 Coup-attempt
The article Trini Christmas written in 1990, the year of the attempted coup, when we were still shaken – and some of us have never really recovered from being on the frontline reporting the unfolding events – takes a close look the nation and its evolving traditions ….  The humour and comedic perspective is tolerant of the fickleness with which we treat cultural traditions in a society daily adjusting, adapting and growing new traditions. While the word tradition itself becomes paradoxical and oxymoronic in these contexts, the musings here provide insights into the vivacity of our living heritage. Symbols and representations of heartwarming Christmas traditions are as elusive to define as the spirit of the season itself in a young evolving nation in the grip of globalization and is a good source of warm and rib-tickling comic relief too for those of us still-in-recovery from the traumas of the 1990-attempted coup.

C Monologues
Creole Christmas and CrisCringle List, are two pieces from the C Monologues series, one of the longest running of my columns that appeared on the editorial leader page of the Sunday Guardian. Though hinged on actual and specific occurrences of the day, they epitomise the collection in that they suggest either a society in statis, or the particularly timeless character of the pieces. The pieces evoked wagging fingers from Prime Ministers Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday, to the Chief Justice, Ministers, Ambassadors and Diplomats, many of whom also privately called in their consternation as well as their commendations. It also inspired did wagging tongues from readers who looked forward to its weekly issuance. A former Ambassador of the US said on more than one occasion he felt torn between admiration for the pieces which offered him unique insights into the society and, of course, unease when it delved into some of the actions of the country he represented, the USA which at the time of the War on Afghanistan offered much to C Monologue about. All are treated with the perspicacity, picong and pepper humour of the calypso arena, chutney stage or the private gatherings of Trinis’ elemental sharp tongue and wit.
The companion piece, CrisCringle’s List is my Naughty and Nice list sent to Santa in 2002. Based on events and occurrences of the day much of it still applies today, and to the same figures – give or take a few if you substitute the names for any of the ensuring years – the more things change …. though not sure one can find as many C’s as on that year – the year of the political deadlock with the third general election in as many years, reflective of the internal statis.
Creole Christmas is personally dear to me, as triggered from a childhood memory and inspired by my father’s daily honest toil to provide for this family as a farmer and market vender from which resonate cringing at callous authority figures perpetuating ongoing mistreatment and disrespect to vendors and other honest hardworking citizens struggling to beat the odds of challenging circumstances. That it is a situation as real today as it was written as it was of yesteryear and the reality of successive generations again poke reflection on the state of the nation.  
Deadlocks between stasis and suicide
To me one of the most poignant piece among this selection is from my The Week That Was. The Week That Was, a satirical summation of weekly national and international news and occurrences that I prepared, appeared weekly on Page 2 of the Sunday Guardian, a print version similar in style to now commentaries of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert’s or John Oliver in American satirical sitcom. But this form of satire is a tradition all our own, rooted in what we call Trini picong and mamaguy, the edge of fiction, hinged on the week’s happenings, on facts and on truth.

It’s Christmas …. In A Small Place of December 23, 2001. The Christmas of 2001 was one shrouded at sadness over the suicide of a friend in the arts. It inspired dedication of the column, The Week That Was to him,.Playwright and actor Devindra Dookie took his life following a period of intense and growing depression and institutionalization. Having had my own taste of the isolationism that public endeavor can provoke, Devindra’s end resonates like the season’s tolling bells as a constant reminder of the kind of madness that this place can plunge one into.
It’s Christmas …. In A Small Place is inspired by the tone of the week and a Santa Claus styled hat given to me as an early Christmas present by my friends at our celebration of Eid which stimulated replays of the melody of the refrain of Mel Blanc's 1957 The Hat I Got for Christmas then making a comeback through the soca/parang rendition of by Anthony Tone Salloum. So it was not fiction. Indeed I got a hat (see photo) that was too big for me and covered my eyes. The silver dust sprinkled on it also released into my eyes, making it virtually unwearable. We three friends referenced in the article, and something of a play on the three wise (wo)men of Christmas, are real, too. From three different faiths, nothing prevents us from sharing religious observances and celebrating the festivals of each other, as Divali that preceded Eid that year and the forthcoming Christmas. Such is the national character. The national political character was, however, then, as now, somewhat altogether different and tinged with the ugliest elements our society can churn up.
It is symbolized in the farcical  ‘limited agreement’ referenced in the piece which speaks to the political deadlock arising from the General Election of December 10, 2001. The incumbent United National Congress (UNC) and the opposition People's National Movement (PNM) each won 18 seats after the general election, posing a constitutional debate about which party should form the government. Prime Minister Basdeo Panday offered to share power in a government of national unity to break the deadlock, which the Opposition leader Patrick Manning rejected. Both met with President Arthur Robinson, and agreed, as provided under the Constitution, to authorise him to appoint a new Prime Minister.
On the Week of this column, on December 19, 2001, the two political parties had a ‘limited agreement’ on appointment of a new Speaker of the House and that the sitting President choose the next government.  
It might be a prophetic allusion but the day following the column, it became evident that the ‘limited agreement’ would be stillborn and PM Panday's allusions of National Unity, suicidal, as on 24 December 2001, President Robinson chose and swore in the Opposition, Mr Manning as Prime Minister. It meant suicide for the political pact that had resolved the elections tie, and threatened the convening of the 7th Parliament and by extension Parliament’s ability to pass any legislation resulting in the call for new elections.
The deadlock characterized the politics of the year 2002 and a larger national stasis; the wastage of public time, energies and resources was reflected in the left unattended to real issues of the day, like the floods that swept through the Central Plains and dampened the spirit of Christmas.
The stasis, the choking frustrations and the dead end for one’s art that Devindra’s act of suicide represent frame the column as much as the dead air deadlock of the nation drawing out the irony and pathos of the House of Parliament hailing his suicide as an act of self-will – when his suicide was so glaringly a statement on the lack of will, lack of political will, and his own lack of will to live.
The quotation excerpted in the image is from his suicide note, a mike drop if ever there was one.
I was first exposed to the art of Devindra Dookie at high school in the 1980s, when the touring Theatre in Education group came to students of Princes Town, including St Stephen’s College.  Devindra led the cast that included Errol Sitahal, Dennis ‘Sprangalang’ Hall, Errol Jones and Pearl Eintou Springer. With a passion for literature, their depiction of excerpts of the school’s literature syllabus remains embedded on my mind, especially the presentation of local author Samuel Selvon’s A Brighter Sun and UK’s George Orwell’s satirical novel, 1984. Eintou, who have been a close mentor since the start of my journalism and literary endeavours was always enthused by my avid regular appearance to research my pieces at the West India library she curated. She recalls that her group toured and performed with Devindra in schools across the country and after performances, would find the drinking-spot in the village to  discuss issues of the day, books, the arts, politics and personal issues. He leaned more and more on the bottle that Eintou described began as socio-cultural drinking. It had evolved into taste for the strongest of them all - Puncheon Rum which is iconic of Trinidad and Tobago as the royally patented Angostura Bitters  - because other alcohol couldn’t dull the pain, it seems.
Devindra led the Alternative Theatre movement, generating work through his own writing, directing and producing plays or what his circle of friends might engage him in. For much of his career he was an invisible voice on a government information programme, sitting behind a microphone in the uninspiring drab unlit, unaired space of the Division of Information. His acting/directing and stage career included, Men of Gray II and Flight of the Ibis.
His passion for his work, which he would at times invite me to sneak preview in stages of development, masked his internal turmoil and torment. Devindra, who’s art I had covered over the years – as actor, director, playwright, inspired me, and I never suspected until the later years, when he too, like so many artists sought a shoulder, an ear, a sympathetic heart, against systems that seem heartless to the arts – like the last moments of Pat Bishop who rolled off her chair from a heart attack at a meeting to plan directions for the arts and culture a decade later; like so many other stymied and stifled talents in the arts, little knowing that I too may one day be so close to the brink on which he stood.
One night, a few years prior to his suicide Devindra came pounding on my door, inebriated, singing loudly. I gently talked him away through the door. He left, singing.
But he was already on a downward swing. I was soon in and out of the country, on studies, first in the UK, and then India. The next I would hear from Devindra would be in a note sent to my office while I was away. In the note he was raving neurotically that they were coming to kill him. I tried to track him down but some said that he was unreachable, mentally. A few months later, he would take his life: an act of the kind of futility that so many of us in the arts here seem to be always trying to ward off, and the understanding that it is to live that requires courage, not to die as that Week That Was recap of December 23 2001 chronicles. The years since have brought me closer and closer to understanding and living with death and the death-thoughts of others that would mock the first Newsday headline,  5000 Lives Saved - an article I wrote in the days of hope and optimism and before Newsday’s suicide of its good news intent that was like a premonition of the death knolls that have continuously rung out since. My friend, Irma Ramabaran, too comes to mind, gone this year.  How the callousness of this country can stampede on endeavor and achievements, put one on the edge, on the brink of suicide, heart attack, death.
 
Breathless & Pantin for Hope
Among the pieces, I also found hope. The lighter pieces represented are in an era when a few people in journalism took the brave step to challenge the existing media status quo and attempt change, which efforts in themselves were stopped in their tracks by blinkered commercial interests.   
It is not unlike the current environment where, since the 2016 Local Government Election and end of year spurt of murders, a number of individuals have been coagulating in various configurations to try and define agendas for change. But without the long view and perspective, such endeavor for change may themselves be as stillborn as the Newsday Good News endeavour.
Founded on the principles of Good News with its first lead story 5000 Lives Saved (by the suicide hotline), Newsday - before it became the Town Crier for Crime, Murder & Mayhem - once believed in the power of the press to shape the social conscience with glad tidings, few would believe from its current mutation.
It's Christmas Time In The City: The early days of our founding of this newspaper, and our focus and efforts to lighten the heart and creating the tone for a society more solidly resting on its imagination and creative strengths are what emerges from the pieces of 1994 – when Newsday’s was but an idealistic infant as we all were of its good intentions.
Deck the Halls: Making one’s own decorations brought family and friends together creatively but has become one of the fading traditions of Christmas that with readily available plastic & Made in China alternatives.  
An Excellent Store: The Commercial imperative found savoury contexts of social, cultural, historical & heritage value, beyond materialistic greed; based on principles of Good News, celebrating diversity, social inclusion, community building, social development  - the power of the press to shape socio-cultural conscience with glad tidings …  
PeaceAmong these pieces, too, is the voice of the now deceased Archbishop Anthony Pantin. Faced with social and religious leaders who recoil and are timid to standup to the atrocities of those who hold positions of authority, there is a sense of nostalgia as one could have always counted on : Archbishop Pantin to give the society & his flock the right dose of conscience-stirring appraisal, soul stirring guidance, & sense of security without thought to status, class, position, power or relationship to his Church.
His message in this piece rings through and true with its message for our times, in the single word which formed the headline and the word on which I wish will rest the ensuing days of this Yuletide season and the coming year for all: Peace.

Lagniappe: LiTTscapes: Christmas Traditions in Fact & Fiction
A lagniappe is a Christmas tradition. Standard dictionaries define it is an act to give something extra when one has made a purchase. This sneak preview of 30 Christmases also offers a lagniappe, some of the representations in fiction of Christmas as detailed in LiTTscapes which compresses the preseitnations of Christmas as viewed through the eyes of writers, poets and novelists as Derek Walcott, VS Naipaul, Earl Lovelace, Michael Anthony, Lakshmi Persaud Seepersad and Ramabai Espinet.
If this has whet your appetite like their telling of the making and partaking of gingerbeer, ponche-a-crème, sorrel, blackcake, rum and a host of other Christmas traditions as parang you can send in requests to purchase LiTTscapes or pre-purchase the complete edition of 30 Christmases.

Auld Lng Syne - one from the series I started called Between The Lines virtually sums it all up - the character of timelessness, the sentiments expressed in all of the pieces, the pathos and the prophesy as the song Auld Lang Syne is itself and is indeed a fitting way to close the year and open as 2016 promises to be, in every sense of newness.
Thank you all for being part of it and seeing me through this year. 


Season’s Best and bests for a Joyeaux New Year.



@krisramp @justintrudeau +G Singh +Kamla Persad-Bissessar +Sonja Wong +POTUS @POTUS @realDonaldTrump @FLOTUS @ForestWhitaker





 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Unpresidented unPresidential Post Truths and other Unprecedented Acts of Stealing Literarily returns

Will Donald Trump be unPresidented as the Electoral College vote the US President into office? Now that will be unpresidentally unprecedented....
It might be unpresidented for a President (elect) of one of the largest official English-language speaking democracies in the world to not know how to spell/pronounce and one wonders understand the word unprecedented.

It stirs my spirit to resurrect LITERARILY by Dr Krisa series of literary interpretations of contemporary terms. Some of these were featured on the Editorial page of the Sunday Guardian. Meant to stir minds into examining attitudes, habits and behaviours, or just for a good ole chuckle as the word Democracy featured here.
Here I suggest Literarily meanings and interpretations for this and other new words and terms. Stay tuned for interpretations of new and not so words Post-Truths and Bigly:


Unpresidented: A word used by a US President (elect) on 12/17///2016 in Tweet: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes to China in unpresidented act.”
My literarily interpretation of both the unpresidented act by the President elect and the Chinese is as follows:

Adj:  Unpresidented: describes an act which cannot be pronounced in Chinese which may force an unprecedented trade war in a new alignment of global powers where traditional buddies get to pick new teams and allies.
Noun: Unpresidented may also allude to the nebulous state of being elected to office in unpresidented circumstances that leaves one unsure and somewhat fazed or dazed about whether one will indeed hold the office and if so for how long;

Verb: Unpresidented may refer to generally inexplicable acts of voters to place persons who may not necessarily act in their best interests in high office.
Such unpresidented acts may result in situations in which farcical democratic political practices allot the popular vote to one's opponent while one is not quite sure what one has won as even the Electoral College/authority may contemplate overturning such elected status.
OtherUses: 
Unpresidented may also be used in reference to conditions where the electoral processes themselves come under scrutiny, are accused of being stolen and the credibility of the electoral body, electoral authority and electoral processes are questioned as unpresidented.    









@krisramp @lolleaves @KrisRampersadTT @johnkerry @realDonaldTrump +Kamla Persad-Bissessar @MPKamla, +Fuad khan +Ganga Singh, @POTUS @FLOTUS +POTUS ㅤ @AlGore @JustinTrudeau @BritishMonarchy @ForestWhitaken @NarendraModi 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bhojpuri Wedding folk traditions inscribed on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List


The wedding folk songs and traditions taken by indentured immigrant labourers from India during British colonialism now find a place on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.The tradition was approved this month at the meeting of the intergovernmental committee on intangible cultural heritage through an application by Mauritius for the Bhojpuri songs and the accompanying ritual, prayers, songs, music and dance of the Hindu Wedding Ceremony, Vivaah Samskara. The songs, music and accompanying dances are known as Geet Gawai in Mauritius. Similar traditions are practiced across the Indian diaspora.  These are known as Lawa or Matikor in the Caribbean with widespread practice in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, and the associated Caribbean diasporas in North America, Canada and Europe. 
The practices,
transposed from India through mass movement of bonded labour in the 19th century, include song, dance, music, cuisine, rituals and communal engagement in the wedding ceremony. See video this page

In the nomination submission, Mauritius noted: “Geet-Gawai is a pre-wedding ceremony that combines rituals, prayer, songs, music and dance. It is performed mainly by Bhojpuri-speaking communities in Mauritius who have Indian descent. The traditional practice takes place at the home of the bride or groom and involves female family members and neighbours. It begins with five married women sorting items (turmeric, rice, grass and money) in a piece of cloth while other participants sing songs that honour Hindu gods and goddesses. After the site has been sanctified, the mother of the bride or groom and a drummer honour musical instruments to be played during the ceremony, such as the dholak (a two-headed drum). Uplifting songs are then performed and everyone joins in and dances. Geet-Gawai is an expression of community identity and collective cultural memory. The practice also provides participants with a sense of pride and contributes to greater social cohesion, and breaking class and caste barriers. Knowledge about the practice and its associated skills are transmitted from older to younger generations on an informal and formal basis. This is done via observation and participation by families, semi-formal teaching houses, community centres, and academies. Nowadays, the practice of Geet-Gawai extends to public performances and men also participate.(see UNESCO ICH List )

The UNESCO Executive Board in 2014 approved a new international indentured  Indian immigrant labour route initiative, piloted by Mauritius and unanimously supported by all our executive board members. (See details n Flashback below) 
Hindu Wedding traditions transposed, adapted and evolution from India to the Caribbean are explored in Finding a Place, and LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago. Finding a Place locates the role of these practices in the oral traditions that fed the evolution of a literary and journalistic sensibility while adapting to a new society while LiTTscapes provide representations of the practices and rituals in fictional literature.

Dr Kris Rampersad is a UNESCO certified heritage expert and has served as Chair of the UNESCO Education Commission; co-chair of UNESCO Executive Board Programme and External Relations Commission, and co-chair of the Consultative Body of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage as an independent cultural heritage expert.

 Flashback: Trinidad and Tobago key to understanding migrations, UNESCO told
In supporting the Mauritius initiative entitled The International Indentured Labour Route Project, geared to enhance knowledge around its landing point of Indian immigration, the Aapravasi Ghat, Rampersad, Dr Kris Rampersad,  the co-chair of the Programme and External Relations Commission on the 58-member UNESCO Executive Board, pointed out that the Caribbean was a critical dimension of labour migration to post slavery societies, noting that more than one million Indian and other Asians crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the Americas in the immediate post-emancipation period. 
She said her research shows the islands may hold the key to broadening and deepening understanding pre-Columbian migrations in the Americas as it has been in the colonial and post slavery migrations from Europe, Africa and Asian in its location off the tip of South America and as the most southerly of Caribbean islands.
Rampersad, a heritage educator, researcher and journalist, who has been researching and advocating for greater national and international efforts at safeguarding. 
Piloted by Mauritius, the International Indentured Labour Route Project was universally supported and adopted by the UNESCO Board, along with other programmes to safeguard vulnerable heritage assets in other countries, following the negotiation of the text which came before the Programmes and External Affairs Commission.
Rampersad suggested to UNESCO that as the project unfolds, the Board also explore not only the synergies with the Slave Route project but also the potential of private-public sector and NGO partnerships within both and how they may broadening and deepening the proposed refocus on oceans and small island developing states so as “to accommodate equity and balance and the cultural diversity and heritage dimensions in the United Nations post-2015 sustainable development agenda.”The Mauritius initiative drew from a decision of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee that considered “the importance of an International Indentured Labour Route Project to complement the Slave Route Project and the General History of Africa which will be implemented in the context of the International Decade of People of African descent.” 
Rampersad is the UNESCO trained facilitator for the English-speaking Caribbean on the Convention for the Protection and Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (2003) and served as an independent member of the consultative body of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage.. She has also been part of Commonwealth and UNESCO initiatives to recognise culture-centred development through these and other conventions that drive the cultural and creative industries sectors as the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005).
Rampersad noted that the new programme, which has already been highly commended by Africa, Asia/Pacific, European and Latin American and Caribbean delegates also presents possibilities towards heightening the dimensions of international cooperation promoted in the UNESCO conventions against trafficking in cultural property (1970), World Heritage (1972), intangible cultural expressions (2003), diversity of cultural expressions (2005) and underwater cultural heritage (2006).


Rampersad noted that the new programme, which has already been highly commended by Africa, Asia/Pacific, European and Latin American and Caribbean delegates also presents possibilities towards heightening the dimensions of international cooperation promoted in the UNESCO conventions against trafficking in cultural property (1970), World Heritage (1972), intangible cultural expressions (2003), diversity of cultural expressions (2005) and underwater cultural heritage (2006).

In an interview on the initiative, she said: “Ebola is today waving its passport of global citizenship and has more clearly brought home to us the realities of the borderless world in which we really exist. As children of both slave and silk routes, though far removed from some of our societies of origin – and I say this acknowledging the also marginalised indigenous communities of our region, we in the Caribbean have naturally existed in trans-boundary spaces with intertwined heritage that span all the continents of the world. While in some of our societies these remain vibrant and effervescent and spawning new cultures through fusions, in others they are significantly in danger of disappearing from various pressures, still unmapped, understudied, underassessed and undervalued in the contexts of our global village.



“In turn, we have also spawned other diasporas, offspring of our complex Caribbean societies, in other parts of the Americas, in Europe, in Africa and in Asia itself, that are not just parallel to but intimately intertwined with the storyline of our post slavery evolution.”

In acknowledging synergies between the Slave Route Project and the new project, the Board “recognised the need to develop professional capacity in fields as history, anthropology, archaeology and heritage towards creating an international database on indentured labour… about such a major historical event and build greater understanding and cooperation among peoples.”

The UNESCO Executive Board also lent support for a series of activities to celebrate UNESCO’s 70th anniversary; initiatives related to prioritising education and culture in the UN post 2015 development agenda, introduced new international prizes and revived some which were suspended owing to financial and other challenges. 


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