NATCOM – St. Kitts, March 25, 2014: Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO Antonio Maynard says the Federation of St Christopher and Nevis is joining the International Community in Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the UNESCO Slave Route Project by highlighting a number of activities which will take place locally during the year of observance.
Initially the Slave Route Project was launched with the intention of “breaking the silence surrounding the slave trade, slavery and their consequences as well as to highlight the resulting transformations and promote intercultural dialogue and the shared heritage born of this human tragedy”.
Coming out of a recent meeting of the National Slave Route Scientific Committee, Mr. Maynard reported that “The public discussion and scrutiny which has resulted in light of the National Commission spotlighting the topic over the years has been significant. As such, the National Commission and more specifically the Slave Route Scientific Committee (established locally to manage the process of erecting a national monument to the abolition of the slave trade), are continuing to agitate for increased awareness by means of a number of activities that have been planned for the 20th anniversary observance.
The Secretary General revealed that a number of significant activities in the process of raising awareness will unfold over the course of the year including the launch of “Places of Memory” a text produced locally to highlight St Kitts-Nevis Black History in a positive light by highlighting the resilience, contribution to our built heritage, architectural designs and physical skills.
Also planned for this year is the promotion of a proposal for further assistance from UNESCO in the publication of the text which “presents the history of the African forbears of our students in a manner that focuses on their experience, resilience, survival and progress, with an emphasis on their contribution to our built heritage, architectural designs, and physical skills.”
The text now being a reality, a spokesperson for the National Scientific Committee on the Slave Route Project said having the text published “lends completion to the process, and is seen as vital in helping dispense to young people…easily accessible and comprehensible written material focusing on the legacy of slavery. It is hoped that “Places of Memory” will be a part of the schools’ curriculum and available to the general public by the start of the new school year in September 2014.
Another strategic element in the propulsion of Afro-Caribbean History in the Federation is a proposed project entitled “Educating the Population of St. Kitts and Nevis on Afro-Caribbean Ancestry, and their Cultural Heritage.”
It will seek to provide a wealth of knowledge for young people on their ancestry; help remove misconceptions on their African origin and culture, and discuss their transformation in the Western World.
Although the project will eventually embrace the entire community its first arm will be an awareness building workshop in May 2014 which will focus on building on the existing educational platform of teachers who will be involved in the activities. This symposium will be followed in June 2014 with the core activity, a 12 month education program for youths between the ages of 12 to 17.
Several seminars and workshops on the Slave Route Project will be held during the course of the year and members of the Slave Route Project Committee will participate in local and regional conferences in this regard. The Federation is also hoping to schedule to host a regional seminar at which an eminent regional expert on the topic is expected to participate.
The Slave Route Project, launched internationally 20 years ago by UNESCO, has encouraged and supported the development of Scientific Research, publications and the production of teaching material, the inventory of sites and places of memory, the preservation of oral and written archives, and the production of films.
So far the National Commission and The National Slave Route Committee have accomplished much in carrying out the mandate of the project. These include; the establishment of the National Scientific Slave Route Committee, and production of the text “Places of Memories”. Research and documentation of an inventory of the Federation’s slave route sites and the production of a map that chronicles those sites.
They have also executed a series of informative and insightful lectures with several esteemed and prominent lecturers from throughout the world. These included; Dr. Ken E. Ballantyne: from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vincentian Lawyer, Management Consultant, Educator, Poet, and writer. Sir Probyn Inniss; from St. Kitts and Nevis, “Historian, Former Governor of the State of St. Kitts-Nevis and Anguilla, Senior Partner in law firm Inniss and Inniss , Crown Counsel and Teacher, Mrs. Victoria Borg O’Flaherty: from St.Kitts and Nevis, Director of Archives at the National Archives of St. Kitts-Nevis, Mr. Ngombulu Ya Sangui Ya Mina Bantu LASCONY , from the Congo in Africa, writer, historiographer, researcher, poet, documentary film maker and jazz band leader, and Mr. Michael Lorne from Jamaica: a Veteran Lawyer, and black activist.
The National Scientific Committee on the Slave Route Project and by extension the National Commission for UNESCO plans to increase the volume of its interaction with the General public in coming months.