Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monumental legacy in the Chaguaramas Military History Museum

The news of the pending eviction of the Chaguaramas Military History Museum by the Chaguaramas Development Authority is a mere reflection of the continued mindless approach to heritage and development. Is there any interest in integrated development, and to understand that one needs not be done at  the expense of the other and each can rather enhance benefits to all concern? Without a national vision for heritage that are integrated into development plans we will continue to have this kind of idiocy cropping up.
The Military History Museum is a national treasure and represent the invaluable work of an individual and his supporters and that that individual no longer has the energy to fight for it does not mean it should be raised. It is one of the few real substantial heritage institutions that exists in its own right in T&T, struggling and succeeding where better resourced national museums are dismally deficient. They can well take a page out of the kind of commitment it takes to sustaining an institution like this.The Chaguramas Development Authority will do well to note that its current location makes it ideal for inttegrating it into its upgrade plans for the district, apart form the fact of the historic-on-several fronts district of Chaguaramas which speak to our existence from prehistory, through colonialism, independence and beyond, is iconic as part of marine, underwater, built, natural, political, social and historical evolution, and really, a boardwalk (!!??, and the Chaguaramas Development Authority's development (!!??)  plans??? And where does that coincide or depart from "national" development plans?
Gaylord Kelshall is a decorated national hero, who even wthout the decorations, and his history in the navy has through his work at the museum, the model club, outdoor war game activities and others has been an inspiration to many young and old. The hobby club actively gave participants an outlet for any trigger-happiness in a craetive, constructive and safe manner that the millions misdirected funding in being poured into short sighted projects in South East POS could do well to learn from on how to effectively empower young people into constructive activties.
I sat at Kelshall's feet many times as a young reporter, initiating the Discover Trinidad and Tobago series which later also inspired AVM Television's winning series Cross Country and my writigns of this series, as he filled the blanks in my knowledge of local history and connections that neither primary, nor secondary not tertiary level education provided then, nor now.
In editing and writing the introduction to his book, The Gateway To South America (http://openlibrary.org/books/OL23185567M/The_gateway_to_South_America), how humbled I felt, and priviliged to be so close to knowledge of the pivotal role Trinidad played in the revolutionar movements towards Independence of so many of the countries of Latin America and how the South American heroes as Simon Bolivar and others were as much ours as theirs - an element that is glarngly absense in our education system. It was knowledge that, categorically, no one else holds! CDA should be looking to capture that rather than start a new war.
As his health fails, the knowledge Kelshall has projected and transferred into the museum is an irreplaceable legacy. The CDA should  see the Chaguaramas Military History Museum as a monument to this exemplary citizen as well as the story of not only the Trinidad and Tobago and the region, not try to tuck it out of site.
see https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal
CDA moves to evict Military Museum: Founders want $25m to move | The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Caricom must use UNESCO agreement to leverage Caribbean cultural heritage

CARICOM should take advantage of the current renewal of its memorandum of agreement with UNESCO to review and table collaborations and cooperation that are relevant to the region, heritage educator and consultant Dr Kris Rampersad urged yesterday (Friday).
Speaking at the close of a workshop she co-facilitated in Kingston, Jamaica yesterday, Rampersad said the institutions, communities and NGOs in the region should also take an interest in the negotiations on the MOU to ensure that Caribbean priorities and interests are represented in ways that can bring optimal benefits to our societies.
“In the workshop we addressed several contemporary obstacles and challenges to advancing the process of leveraging the region’s vast cultural heritage resources locally, regionally and internationally, and several mechanisms which CARICOM can itself strengthen, including through using international instruments as the UNESCO conventions and such cooperative mechanisms as the MOU.

“It would be a major oversight if the region signs the draft agreement which is an exact replica of one signed a decade ago between CARICOM and UNESCO without taking into consideration changes in the situation and environment over that period. Participants and institutions should now use this knowledge to inform their government on how CARICOM may be directed to better serve the region’s interests.   It is not enough to just complain about how institutions like CARICOM’s ineffectiveness but to find ways of instructing and informing it on how it can better serve the interests of the countries it represents.”

Caption: Heritage facilitator Kris Rampersad and participant in the workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage Bunny Wailer shows his certificate in Kingston Jamaica

2nd National Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage

Participants in the 8 day workshop
Participants in the 8 day workshop
A second national workshop on community based inventorying of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is in progress, having been organised by the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica / Jamaica Memory Bank in collaboration with the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean.
The workshop runs from September 4th to 13th at the Hotel Four Seasons in Kingston. The opening ceremony was held on September 4th at 9 a.m.
(L-R) Mr. Robert Parau, Mr. Joseph Pereira, Ms. Anne Marie Bonner and Hon. Lisa Hanna
(L-R) Mr. Robert Parau, Mr. Joseph Pereira, Ms. Anne Marie Bonner and Hon. Lisa Hanna
Funded by the Government of Japan, the workshop is part of a sub-regional project being implemented in Belize, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago within the context of UNESCO’s Global Strategy on capacity building on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage.
“This is the 10th anniversary of the Convention and I want to commend the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica / Jamaica Memory Bank and UNESCO for spearheading this strategy workshop in Jamaica,” commented Mr. Robert Parau, Officer in Charge at the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean.
Mr. Robert Parau, Officer in Charge of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean gave his address at the opening ceremony
Mr. Robert Parau, Officer in Charge of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean gave his address at the opening ceremony
In his address, Counsellor/Deputy Chief of Mission at the Japan Embassy, Mr. Koji Tomita expressed that ICH plays a central role in the Japanese culture and a workshop of this nature is necessary to strengthen Jamaica’s heritage in light of rapid social change and economic stress. He further stated that the workshop will lay the groundwork for future generations and lays the framework to protect our traditions and creativity.
Mr. Tomita also gave his address at the opening ceremony
Mr. Tomita also gave his address at the opening ceremony
The workshop is being facilitated by two international experts, Dr. Harriet Deacon and Dr. Kris Rampersad. Focus will be placed on a) community involvement in identifying and inventorying in accordance with/as advocated by the UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage Convention; b) information gathering with communities; c) organising, accessing and updating information in inventories and d) a hands on experience in preparing field work.
website: https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal