Celebration of APRIL as heritage month, to the best of our knowledge, was first proclaimed by the Ministry of Culture in 2015. A year later in April 2016 the Minister of Culture is endeavoring to inject some life into the proclamation by drawing the public’s attention (ad nauseam) to our rich and diverse cultural heritage, and that if we are not aware of it, and the economic benefits that could be derived (from it) we would eventually loose it – words to that effect.
When Senator Hood was Minister of Tourism in the previous NNP Government, the Willie Redhead Foundation was accorded the courtesy of meeting with her to discuss in what manner the foundation could assist in the protection and enhancement of our natural and cultural heritage. At that meeting the minister conceded that there was no Cultural Heritage Policy, but accepted the reality posited by the foundation, that without a Cultural Heritage Policy backed by legislation, it is like spinning top in mud.
Ten years or so later the situation has not changed, if anything the threat to our natural and cultural heritage without the protection of legislation, has become a pipe dream as the pressures to optimize so called physical economic development for jobs, has pushed the protection of our natural and cultural heritage to the back-burner of a holistic national development policy if ever one exists.
Just as this article was being drafted a pamphlet came to hand via my heritage comrade – Newton Alexander, emenating from the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) captioned “Protection of Heritage a Priority for Government” published on Jan. 18, 2016 by Theresa Blackman, which reads – inter alia, as follows:
“Government is working towards building a legislative framework to protect and preserve Barbados’ heritage.
Word of this came this morning from Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, as he delivered the feature address at
the opening of a two-day workshop sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS) on Developing
National Heritage Legislation at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, Aquatic Gap, St. Michael.
Mr. Lashley stated that, as acknowledged by the OAS,a national programme for heritage conservation must be
founded on a sound legal basis which is articulated by a comprehensive national law and the requisite administrative structures to effectively and efficiently carry out the devised programme”.
The Minister also added that “reflected in The National Policy was our recognition of the role of museums and libraries in the conservation of our cultural heritage and our need to support them.”
Every month in Grenada, one thing or another is celebrated – this month is HERITAGE, at the end of April heritage would be forgotten until April 2017. Until the government of Grenada (any government) recognizes the importance of our natural and cultural heritage as an important and essential component of our national development, as is routinely done in the developed economies of the world. We would be forever celebrating an illusion, unattainable without the necessary policies and legislation to make the preservation, protection and enhancement of our natural and cultural heritage a living reality, in the meanwhile we will continue to witness the disappearance, especially of our built heritage – York House, the Public Library, Fort George and Government House come to mind, while Camerhogne Park, our premier recreational site on Grand Anse beach is under the auctioneer’s hammer (gavel)for the highest bidder – in manner of speaking.
A Willie Redhead Foundation Presentation April 18, 2016