Chief Archivist Ingrid Thompson showing Westbury Primary students how to make a family tree. (P.Harper-Grant/BGIS)

“Knowing your past is vital to understanding who you are.”

This was the strong message sent by Principal of the Westbury Primary School, Rosalind Gittens, as the school hosted its African Awareness activities this morning.

She explained that the school had been busy in February and could not host the event when African Awareness Month is usually observed.

Principal Gittens stated that the decision to include the Archives Department was the initiative of teacher Cherrylene Young, who was charged with coordinating this year’s African Awareness activities. 

“We are Africans, studying our story.  We looked at the empires of Africa before they were divided into individual countries and it’s only fitting that once you start to look at Africa, you have to look at the Caribbean.

“We want them to be able to fill in the gaps between Africa and what happened before slavery and what is currently happening, and there is no better place to start than at the Archives Department,” Ms. Young explained.

Chief Archivist at the Archives Department, of the Ministry of Creative Economy Culture and Sports, Ingrid Thompson, praised the school’s initiative, noting that she believed it was a perfect opportunity to let students and faculty know that there is a national body responsible for preserving our documentary heritage.

“People hear the word archives and automatically think ‘old musty documents’, but it is so much more than that.  We are practically private investigators and if you want to learn about your history, there is no better place to start than at the Archives Department.  We have birth certificates, death certificates, wills and baptism certificates, but beyond that we are also an excellent source for academic research.  You would be surprised at the kind of information you would find at our department,” the Chief Archivist shared.

Principal Gittens said that on Friday, March 13, students and staff would don their African outfits, and promised that the occasion would be one with a difference.

“We have been putting on African Awareness activities since the beginning of this month, with the intention that students learn more about their heritage so that when they put on their African garb, they will do so with a better understanding of who they are, and where they came from,” she said.

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