Barbados??? heritage tourism offerings have received a boost with the unveiling of a monument to celebrate the story of Yarico, a 17th century Amerindian woman who was sold into slavery on this island by her lover Inkle, a white Englishman.
Speaking before the unveiling of the monument at Kendal Plantation, St. John, yesterday, Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, told his audience, which included Prime Minister Freundel Stuart; Stephen Williams, whose family owns Kendal Plantation; and Jack Kidd, whose family erected the monument, that the island???s heritage story would entice visitors in that market segment to these shores.
Mr. Lashley stated: ???Our tourism product becomes diversified and Barbados as a mature tourist destination is refreshed. It is, therefore, not expecting too much if we project increased tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom during the next winter season, if not before, as a direct response to the staging of Yarico, the Musical on the London stage in February/March, 2015.
???It is moments like this which give credibility to the direction in which the Government is moving when it comes to cultural development. I speak here to the passing of the Cultural Industries Development Act which will be proclaimed on February 1, 2015. All the tenets of the Act will be activated and artists, cultural workers and those investing in cultural projects stand to benefit from the offerings facilitated by the Act by way of the various incentives contained therein.???
The Minister noted that when Yarico???s story was taken to the stage in the form of an opera, its portrayal caused quite a buzz and contributed to the abolition of the slave trade. According to him, attitudes began to change and the abolitionists??? cause was strengthened.
???This contribution, in my opinion, underscores the purpose for the erecting of this monument in Yarico???s memory. The story raises the issues of equality, gender and tolerance; issues that we must all confront and deal with frankly, while at the same time embracing the concept of fairness in every discourse.
???Notwithstanding the above, the significance of this monument takes us past the dark history of slavery, the resilience of our people and the empowerment gained over time as we became proud of self and identity. It speaks to the value of heritage and how it can contribute to economic development,??? Mr. Lashley stressed.
Mr. Kidd disclosed that the Yarico show would be launched in the centre of London and if successful, could be a massive Broadway production. He expressed the view that the Inkle and Yarico story ???is absolutely unique and very special???.??
He suggested that the erection of the monument ???will be the start of something absolutely brilliant for Barbados??? and opined that Kendal Plantation should be a World Heritage Site.