Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley. (FP)

The races… that is what immediately comes to mind when one mentions The Garrison to most Barbadians.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, is, however, hoping that this perception will change to one where the public can readily speak about the significant role the Garrison has played in the development and power of the British Atlantic Empire.

Delivering the opening address at the Crop Over 2013 Heritage Lecture and Tour: Garrison Guns and Galas, last night at the St. Ann’s Fort, he explained that the primary objective of the public education programme, being implemented by his Ministry and the Barbados World Heritage Committee, was to ensure Barbadians would see "our World Heritage Property as part of our collective heritage."

In his address, Minister Lashley said it was important to share stories that "put our history in perspective" and pointed out that outreach initiatives such as Garrison Guns and Galas were critical for public education.

"For it is only when we are told and when we understand those stories, that we will be empowered to take ownership of our World Heritage Property.?? Only then will we comprehend the integral part which our ancestors played in its development.?? Only then will we be able to take advantage of the many opportunities which it offers for economic development; [and] to see the many job opportunities which are there, waiting to be created," he reasoned.

Lauding the role that experts like Professor Pedro Welch played in keeping such stories "foremost in our minds", he said Barbadians should also be proud that the St. Ann’s Fort is home to the world’s largest 17th Century English iron cannon collection.

Mr. Lashley added that there were several entrepreneurial opportunities that people could take advantage of, to keep heritage alive. "I also hope that hotels, tour operators, taxi drivers, will also draw the attention of visitors to the many activities which are available, and encourage them to get to know the stories of our heritage," he noted.

He acknowledged it was "entirely understandable" that many Barbadians were not aware of the Garrison’s significance and insisted this was because "we have not been educated about the importance of this fortification".

"Understandably, too, would be the feeling that whatever else the Garrison might signify besides the races was the domain of the colonial powers.?? We would not automatically see the role that enslaved Africans and their descendants would have played in making the Garrison a fortification which was of vital importance in the British defence system," the Minister contended.

The event was part of the official Heritage Month activities, organised by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and sponsored by First Citizens Bank.?? It saw a number of persons patronising the tours of the Barbados National Armoury, the West Indian Regiment Room and the Drill Hall, State Dining Room.?? Many also stayed for Professor Pedro Welch’s lecture and a cotillion performance by the NCF Dance Summer Internship Ensemble.

St. Ann’s Fort is home to the Barbados Defence Force.?? Throughout the years it has been the main command post and communications point, and has housed the Commissariat, the Barracks, the Gymnasium, Drill Hall and Mess Hall.??


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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