Culture Minister, Stephen Lashley (centre) speaking to John Allsopp (left), the architect who submitted the winning design for the bases of three marble plaques, which will be erected at the Garrison Savannah while Museum Director, Alissandra Cummins (right) looks on. (C.Pitt/BGIS)??

All Barbadians should feel that they have a role to play in the preservation of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, made this assertion on Tuesday during his feature address at the official launch of Heritage Month – which will be celebrated in June.

Noting that this year was the second anniversary of the inscription of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison on the UNESCO World Heritage List, he said, "an entire month should be dedicated to the commemoration and the celebration of this milestone." Hence, Heritage Month 2013, is being held under the theme Celebrating our Heritage: Connecting with our future.

The Minister said Barbadians "should develop a sense of ownership and a desire to work with my Ministry and the World Heritage Committee.?? After all, the significance of the Property reflects the contributions made through the years by Barbadians of all ethnic groups and walks of life."

He pointed out that the inscription of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison on the UNESCO World Heritage List was "an incredible achievement not only for Barbados, but for the Caribbean region and Small Island Developing States."

"It drew to the world’s attention the immense contribution that these small countries have made to the heritage of mankind," Minister Lashley declared, adding, "It helped to redress and highlight in a significant way the current geographical imbalance that exists in the UNESCO World Heritage List".

He reasoned the designation "brought to the fore… grim realities" such as the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, its abolition and long years of post-emancipation colonial rule.?? "It forces us to confront the true role which our historic city and its Garrison played in the development of not only Barbados, but the Caribbean region and indeed Europe and the Americas," he maintained, also stating the inscription highlighted the contribution of enslaved Africans to the development of the Property for the first time.??

The Culture Minister further said his ministry and the Barbados World Heritage Committee had spent the last two years educating Barbadians through a number of "successful initiatives and activities aimed at improving the visibility of Historic Barbados", and the importance of their heritage and the potential benefits of the designation.

"…The path has not been without its challenges.?? In spite of all of this, I am proud to say that two years on, virtually the entire country is now aware of the fact that Barbados has its first World Heritage Property.?? Hundreds have enthusiastically taken advantage of many tours of the Property or attended lectures on various aspects of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison," he pointed out.

Noting that there was still more public education that needed to be done, he explained this was crucial because the Property needed consistent maintenance "in order to avoid the multitude of risks that could have a negative impact on our World Heritage Property".

He outlined those risks as indiscriminate littering, illegal destruction of the historic buildings, inadequate maintenance of built and natural spaces, inadequate lighting and signage.??

Minister Lashley also disclosed that serious effort was being placed on erecting and maintaining signage and road markings within Bridgetown and its Garrison.

"Signage, both directional and interpretive, is of the utmost importance.?? Thirteen entrance signs have been placed at strategic points leading to the boundary of the Property," he explained. He said such signage would assist the public in identifying important landmarks and streets.

In addition, Minister Lashley congratulated John Allsopp, an architect who submitted the winning design for the bases of three marble plaques, which will be erected on Inscription Day at the Garrison Savannah.

Emphasising that the significance of the island’s World Heritage Inscription should not be underestimated, the Culture Minister challenged Barbadians to "not view heritage as a lifeless thing, [or] a thing of times past."

"We are living out heritage. We are creating history everyday of our lives.?? Everyday we are writing our names on history’s page, creating and living a culture that we will pass on to future generations," he maintained.

Heritage Month will officially commence on June 1.?? Several events have been planned including the Unveiling of a Plaque on June 26, to officially commemorate the 2nd Anniversary of the Inscription, at the Garrison; a Heritage Exhibition featuring the art of Rasheed Boodhoo and works in the Barbados National Art Gallery and the Barbados Gallery of Art; the Changing of the Sentry every Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. at the Garrison Savannah; an event entitled, Garrison Guns and Galas, which features a lecture by Professor Pedro Welch; a tour of the Armory and a cotillion performance, and several other activities."??


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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