Month: October 2012

Updates: Through the Political Glass Ceiling

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Through the Political Glass Ceiling in Britsh Library

Now in Britsh Library: Dr Kris Rampersad, author, presents a copy of her book Through the Political Glass Ceiling – Race to Prime Ministership by Trinidad and Tobago’s First Female, Kamla Bersad Bissessar to the Caribbean Collections at the British Library, London.

And Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar presents a copy of  Through the Political Glass Ceiling – Race to Prime Ministership by Trinidad and Tobago’s First Female, Kamla Bersad Bissessar by Kris Rampersad to Al Gore…

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Caribbean media Features Demokrissy Tombraiders

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TRINIDAD-CULTURE-Tomb raiding in Trinidad and Tobago
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Kris Rampersad and LiTTour participants at Mayaro defaced tombstone (Photo courtesy LiTTours (c)Kris Rampersad and LiTTour participants at Mayaro defaced tombstone (Photo courtesy LiTTours (c)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 23, CMC – – Consultant on culture conventions for safeguarding Caribbean culture and heritage, Dr. Kris Rampersad laments the fact that these islands have little or no mechanism in place to safeguard their heritage.
 “That’s the danger we face without adequate laws, with deficient infrastructure, without bilateral agreements and protections, without connected institutions, without proper monitoring, regulations and punishments, without informed co-ordination and without empowered communities,” she wrote in her blog “Demokrissy”, after encountering what she described as “heritage piracy” in Trinidad and Tobago.
See also:
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2012/10/centuries-old-heritage-tomb-spanning.html
http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-tomb-raiders.html
https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books

The author and educator, who has recently launched her latest book, “LiTTscapes- Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago”, said that it has become fashionable for hunters and hoarders of the island’s heritage to gather and dispose of as they wish.
She is peeved at how several tombstones including the historic Ganteaume Tombs in Mayaro, south of here that belong to one of Trinidad and Tobago’s oldest, wealthiest and most influential lineages, have been vandalised. The police have made no arrests.
Rampersad, who delivers training, facilitation and advice to Caribbean countries interested in safeguarding their heritage, the Ganteaume Tombs have links with more than 20 prominent families with ancestries through European, North and South American, Asia and the Caribbean.
She said  “the lineage represented by the tombstone of the first family of Ganteaumes in Mayaro includes admirals and captains, planters and slaves, legislators, ministers of government and the church, clergymen, businessmen, judges, media moguls, derby winners (and) sportsmen.
 “These descendants include not just the Ganteaumes as business magnate Peter Ganteaume; clergyman Father Ganteaume and West Indies cricketer Andy Ganteaume; but also the Seigerts, the founding family of the world-famous Angostura Bitters, the Pantins, including deceased Archbishop Anthony Pantin, Father Gerard Pantin and Minister of Education Clive Pantin.
“It also bears relations to Spanish/Venezuelan lineages of the Torres, de Freitas and Carvallo and British heritage as the Hamel-Smiths as well as Agostinis, O’Connors, Guisseppis/Giuseppis and Ciprianis and Scotts and those of Chinese lineage as the Chens among others.”
Rampersad said that tomb raiding ranges from the activities of hobbyists “seemingly innocently eager to hoard bits of history so they comb graveyards and other sites to gather bits and pieces from or off tombs, to petty thieves looking to earn a quick shilling (as well as), to highly organised crime networks trading in black market heritage goods with complicity by individual collectors or even museum dealers participating in a very lucrative heritage trade market.
“Illicit siphoning out of such assets and heritage deprive local communities and populations of enjoyment and appreciation of their heritage, as well as creating and generating incomes from legitimate heritage-based industries and activities, Rampersad added.
“If people understood their heritage and how such heritage elements can also bring sustained economic value to themselves and their communities they may be less inclined to destroy them. They might even be less inclined to commit other kinds of crimes as well.”
In her blog posting entitled “The Tomb Raiders–Return to the Quest for El Dorado”, Rampersad argues that not unlike when Europe first entered the Caribbean in its quest for El Dorado, “the region is again attractive to culture and heritage pirates eager to capitalise on our unique cultural assets built from our experience as migrant peoples from five continents connected to local indigenous populations found here”.
She said with the world re-awakening to the value of culture and heritage and the Caribbean being a repository of histories and heritage of migrant streams from all the continents of the world, “the new El Dorado is not just the bullion or traditional objects of value as gold and jewelry, but artefacts that may be believed to fetch high prices in the world market, or become part of heritage collections that may one day be sold on the black market to museums and archives”.
The Trinidad and Tobago government is moving towards collecting data on historical sites across the oil-rich twin island republic.
Diversity and Social Integration Minister Clifton de Coteau said so far the National Trust has identified 302 sites, but he believes “there are more”.
He said when the list is finalised it would be sent to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, recalling that the Spanish ambassador here, Fernando de la Serna, had recently identified a fort in the hills of Laventille, on the east-west corridor of the country.
In 2010, the Roman Catholic Church here launched a multi-million dollar project to renovate the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception built in 1781.
“The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago has declared the Cathedral to be an historical site. Therefore, supporting the restoration of the Cathedral not only is contributing to the restoration of the Mother Church of the Archdiocese, it is also supporting the restoration of an historical site for the nation,” said the former Archbishop Edward Gilbert in a column written in the Catholic News.
“Without a doubt, restoring and modernising the Cathedral has become the most significant project ever attempted by the Archdiocese,” he added.
Last week, an angry Mayor of Port of Spain, Louis Lee Singh, armed with  chisel hammered away the mortar on the wall of the Lapeyrouse Cemetery in the capital after the near 200 wall had been plastered with cement.
Lee Sing said he did not know who had decided to plaster the wall of the historic cemetery, where the oldest grave is dated 1813 and where famous Trinidadian painter Michel Jean Cazabon who died in 1888, is buried. 
The tomb of Lady Harris, wife of the third Lord Harris, an 1840s governor, is also in the cemetery, as well as a Jewish burial area.
“I was in China. When I came back and saw it I went crazy,” he told reporters.
Rampersad said national actions for heritage have in the large been “short-sighted, piecemeal, often reactive, crisis-oriented, stop-gap responses to immediate situations to avoid embarrassment or deflect from public rage until such rage can be redirected elsewhere.”
She laments the “ glaring” deficiencies in the functions of various state agencies noting “they support systems of patronage that keep culture and heritage in a dependency stranglehold so they are unable to find their footing as viable and lucrative, self sustaining economic activity”.
Rampersad, who owns Caribbean Literary Salon, an online meeting place for literary enthusiasts, has identified a number of stumbling blocks to heritage preservation here.
These include inadequate local legislation, deficient local structures and institutions, incompetent monitoring as well as “historic animosities fostered and entrenched between and among our populations and institutions (and) an archaic museum model, run on a massa-type structure, borrowed from colonial rule”.
Rampersad said there is also a lack of coordination between systems and a lack of committed financing and resourcing programmes and mechanisms for conservation activities
CMC/pr/2012

Caribbean step further towards implementing UNESCO conventions

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Consultation on UNESCO’S cultural convention gets impressive support

krisrampersadglobal/home/conferences/culture-conventions-unesco


    A wide cross section of stakeholders turned out to learn more regarding two cultural conventions which the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis hope to ratify in the near future.
    The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as the Convention for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions were discussed at a National consultation on Thursday.
    Dr. Kris Rampersad, Media, Cultural and Literary Consultant for UNESCO, facilitated open discussions on both Conventions sharing the benefits of signing on to such and expressing the view that there are really no negative consequences of becoming party to such conventions.
    She said apart from the obvious availability of funding for countries that adopted the conditions of these conventions, there are also the benefits of strength garnered from participation in the deliberation of international issues.
    Responding to the concern of some participants that International Organizations do not adequately express the views or address the concerns of small countries in their conventions, Dr. Rampersad explained

    that UNESCO did not operate along those lines but rather it was more the failure of developing countries to make full use of the opportunities afforded them to participate in the policy and decision making processes.

    This view was supported by Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO Mr. Antonio Maynard who said his organization would continue to provide opportunities for nationals to participate in those processes and would heighten its already very thorough requirements as far as follow-up action when persons benefit from such training and awareness-oriented meetings overseas.
    Mr. Maynard said, “Individuals at the consultation were not expected to become experts on the conventions but to become familiar with its contents especially in areas directly affecting them.” He suggested that they focus on the benefits.
    Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Ms. Sharon Rattan commented on her Ministry’s commitment to ensuring opportunities for public discourse on intended and signed conventions.
    She permanent secretary highlighted the inclusion of individuals from all walks of life to participate in the consultation on cultural conventions. She added specifically that every effort had been made to give youths the opportunity to participate and commended those who had so willingly attended and given their input.
    Cultural Director Mr. Creighton Pencheon said he was heartened by the show of support from the community, adding that based on the turn-out he had high hopes for the “future cultural landscape and the preservation and ownership of our unique culture.”
    Present at the event which took place at the Foundation For National Development (FND) Conference Room on May 31, were tour operators, producers, teachers, musicians, singers, artists, writers, poets, craftsmen, heritage experts,  media representatives as well as Mr. Winston Zack Nisbett among other cultural enthusiasts.
    A similar session is being held in Nevis on Friday June 1.

ww.sknvibes.com/news/gfxz/image/c…jpg

Reprinted:
http://whttp://www.zizonline.com/news/?3803A4EA-F16C-3E88-966A616944879F6B

Reprinted:
http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/headline-Consultation-on-UNESCO-cultural-convention-gets-impressive-support-in-St-Kitts-11190.html
http://www.zizonline.com/graphics/resources/UNESCOCulturalConventionConsultation31May2012-640.jpg

Reprinted
http://news.caribseek.com/index.php/caribbean/saint-kitts-and-nevis-news/item/15063-consultation-on-unescos-cultural-convention-gets-impressive-support
http://news.caribseek.com/images/stories/saint-kitts-and-nevis/2012-0604-kn-unesco-cultural-convention.jpg

Media devotes special reports to Demokrissy blog focus on Heritage

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Newspaper Reports arising from Demokrissy:

At least three of the blog articles from Demokrissy moves into media  

The Tomb Raiders …. Return to the Quest for El Dorado


Featured in

Sunday Guardian Special Report: State of Heritage krisrampersadglobalConservation

The Tomb raiders strike in Mayaro

With little or no oversight mechanisms in place, it is virtually open season for hunters and hoarders of the heritage of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean to gather and dispose of as they wish. This, according to LiTTscapes author and heritage educator/facilitator, Dr Kris Rampersad.

Dr Rampersad makes the comments in her blog Demokrissy (www.kris-rampersad.blogspot.com



http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2012-10-14/tomb-raiders-strike-mayaro


Tomb connects global diaspora


Published: 
Sunday, October 14, 2012


The historic Ganteaume Tombs in Mayaro belong to one of Trinidad and Tobago’s oldest, wealthiest and most influential lineages. It has links with more than 20 prominent families with ancestries through European, North and South American, Asia and the Caribbean.

http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2012-10-14/tomb-connects-global-diaspora



Mayaro residents take historic building in hand

At least two communities have committed to taking charge of their heritage elements 

The Power of We Blog Action Day #blogactionday ##BAD12

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If you have not yet done a blog now’s the time to do t to feel the power of communication and outreach now available to all those who have access to a computer/phone or social media tool.
Bloogng gives you direct access to a world audience no matter how small a place yu may cme from.
From Trinidad and Tobago, one of the most powerful voices in mainstream media, Trevor McDonald,  has often told of how he came from a small backwater island in the Caribbean and became the toast of the media world through moving to London to to work for the BBC and then for ITN. He has had a significant impact on perceptions of the role and place and power and influence of media in shaping society. Now, through blogging, that power is in the hands of social media users everywhere ……

Carib Chief complains of neglect

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“In many parts of the world, we have distinct identities and we continue to occupy and share ancestral lands.”

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Carib_Chief_complains_of_neglect-174127741.html

Carib Chief complains of neglect | Trinidad Express Newspaper | News

Carib Chief complains of neglect

‘Community not getting recognition’

By Louis B Homer 

Carib Chief Ricardo Hernandez-Bharath yesterday launched a scathing attack on those responsible for ignoring and neglecting the plight of the First Peoples of Trinidad at the launch of Amerindian Heritage Week.
In his address, held at the banks of the Arima River at Roland’s Place, Wilson Street on the Blanchisseuse Road, Hernandez-Bharath said, “We are no longer populations like animals for management, but we must now be seen as peoples with rights. We are not child-like. We are not children who must be wards of the State to be administered to by paternalistic policies.” 
He said despite efforts by missionaries and governments to “commit genocide…we have survived this and we are distinct people, not because we arrived, but survived.”  
Hernandez-Bharath added, “In many parts of the world, we have distinct identities and we continue to occupy and share ancestral lands.”
He said, in the eyes of social scientists and missionaries, “We have moved from being uncivilised savages, beasts of the fields and subhuman species to the status of humans.”
In his emotional speech, Hernandez-Bharath said the challenge in Trinidad and Tobago for the development of an indigenous policy based on the recognition of the notion in indigeneity makes the First People distinctive.
“We are not just a racial minority, we are more than just elements or members of a multicultural society and we make a distinct status based on indigeneity.”
He referred to the 25 acres of land granted by the Government as an important beginning, but there is still much to be done to the descendants of the First People.
He said if an acceptable level of recognition were not granted to the community he would not be present at next year’s Heritage Day festival.
“I will not be around if things do not improve for the community,” he said.
Hernandez-Bharath said it was an insult to the First People that on the eve of the launch of the celebration the Government had not yet decided on the allocation for the festival.
The festival was postponed by a week because of late funding.
“Others who came after have been given suitable recognition,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration, Embau Moheni, Minister in the Ministry of National Diversity, said his government is in the process of developing a programme that will give status to the First Peoples.
“It will be one of the priority projects that my Ministry will undertake,” he said.
Rodger Samuel, MP for Arima, was unable to attend the function but his greetings were relayed via telephone.
The launch was preceded by a smoke ceremony held at the feet of the statue of Carib warrior Hyarima outside the Arima Velodrome.
Among those who brought greetings were Amerindians from Guyana, Suriname and Miami.  
Carib Queen Jennifer Cassar attended the ceremony along with her contingent of the Santa Rosa Cairb Community.

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/featured-news/A-home-for-the-Caribs-204197581.html

TRADITIONAL: President of the Santa Rosa First Peoples (Carib) Community Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez, in traditional wear, shows off an artist’s impression of the Amerindian Village to be built on the 25 acres of land located on the Blanchisseuse Road, which was given to the community by the Government. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

A home for the Caribs

Plans for Amerindian Village in Arima

By Irene Medina: Associate Editor

DNA (Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid) testing on descendants of the indigenous peoples in Arima has confirmed very strong ancestral links to Africa and to Native American Indians.

This was the finding of a National Geographic Genographic Project which was conducted on some 25 members of the 600-strong Santa Rosa First Peoples (Carib) Community sometime in July 2012.

With the results just in, president of the community Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez believes it is good for the community’s identity which is sometimes questioned, as to whether it is the real thing.

As he puts it, “We never claimed to be a pure indigenous community, we know we are of mixed descent, but at the same time we are very conscious of where we came from. We can trace our ancenstry.”

The results come at a time when pottery artefacts and bone fragments believed to be of Amerindian heritage dating back to AD 0-350 were discovered by workers doing restoration works at the Red House in Port of Spain about three weeks ago.

The fragments are strongly believed to date back to the Amerindian era and Chief Bharath-Hernandez has already visited the site, which formerly housed the Office of the Parliament, and stands ready to perform the necessary ancestral rituals once it is confirmed that the fragments are indeed Amerindian.

He explained that the community was excited to participate further in the Genographic Project in an effort to trace the paternal and maternal lineages of all of its 600 members.

The results of the project were released to Bharath-Hernandez on March 28 by Dr Jada BennTorres from the University of Pennsylvania, who is responsible for administering the project to the local community.

In her letter, Dr BennTorres thanked the Santa Rosa Karina (Carib) community for participating in the project and explained, “We have completed preliminary analysis of the mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome (NRY markers). These analyses will tell us about the maternal and paternal lineages of the community members.”

According to her, the findings of the genetic ancestry of the community “indicate a complex ancestry that includes Africans, in addition to a very strong Native American ancestral component”.

She added that all 25 individuals would receive their information at a later date and that more detailed findings of the analyses would be released to the community.

Bharath-Hernandez told the Express that swabs were taken from participants’ mouths and while members were fearful of giving blood, the tests did not involve blood samples. He said a lot of people were scared and sceptical so a mere 25 participated. He, however, hopes to convince more people to test their DNA.

At present Chief Bharath-Hernandez is consumed with plans to construct permanent home for his community on 25 acres of land given to the group by the State last December.

“We plan to construct a modern Indigenous Amerindian Village, meaning we want to keep the village as authentic and traditional as possible but with all modern-day amenities.

“It will comprise a main centre to be used as a meeting and cultural space, which will be located in the centre of the village. Spiritual rituals will also be conducted there. There will also be an official residence for the Carib Queen, Jennifer Cassar; a cassava-processing plant to make farine, cassava flour, cassava bread and casaripe; a craft centre where the people will be doing the indigenous craft, as well as an indigenous museum to display our artefacts.”

The president added that there will be a guest house to accommodate visitors and students who wish to do ethnographic studies.

“The plan is to have ten to 12 families living there permanently and they would be responsible for the management of the place. We are also going to have an agricultural focus, consisting of wildlife and crop farming.

“We intend to conduct eco-tours and nature trails, because the intention is to keep a major portion of land in its natural form,” the chief said.

He spoke of the need for a natural watercourse through the land, which, he said, would have been possible, had the State granted them the 200 acres they requested.

“There is one on adjacent lands, west of the village but that plot is privately owned and we may want to ask for that as well,” he said.

Originally, he said the Amerindians were given 1300 acres of land.

“We have evidence that the Mission of Arima was established and the land was lost to the British, but with the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, one of the articles states that governments should work with indigenous communities to redress some of those wrongs.”

He said the 25 acres was long in coming.

“The journey took 40 years to reach here, starting with Dr Eric Williams in the 1970s, who, on a visit to Arima, was approached by then-Queen Edith Martinez for assistance for the Santa Rosa Festival.

He instructed the Arima Corporation to give a grant of $200, which was used to register the community.

“That grant moved to $500 and now stands at $5,000. Successive governments over the years provided some assistance by way of small grants, but the idea of 200 acres of land was first discussed with the Basdeo Panday administration in 1995.”

“In 1990, the NAR government approved a $30,000 yearly grant, but it was in 1995 when then-prime minister Basdeo Panday met with us to discuss a request for 200 acres.

“The idea is that most of the land would remain in its natural formation, because of the importance of forest to the indigenous community, it would not be cleared for commercial use.”

Chief Bharath-Hernandez noted, however, that although the 25 acres were awarded in December 2012, he is yet to receive any official documents.

“We have also not yet discussed under what terms the lands would be given. We are hoping it is not a lease arrangement, but a grant in light of the fact that the community once owned 1,300 acres.

“It has been a long process, about 40-plus years, we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. It may not be finished in my lifetime but a major part would be established, “he said.

The community observes a Day of Recognition on October 14 annually, and Bharath-Hernandez is hoping that with a permanent and spacious home, the community could do more to mark its heritage.

As to how soon the development is expected to start, Bharath-Hernandez said “it could start as soon as tomorrow”.

He spoke of forming partnerships with numerous agencies, including the Ministry of Tourism, “who sees the village as having tourism potential”.

He said the promised lands are now before the Director of Surveys, the results of which will inform the type of development to take place on the land.

Bharath-Hernandez said preliminary discussions are also on with a well-known designer for possible layout of the village.

He added that his members have mixed feelings about the Amerindian Village. “They are excited, but because most of them are old they lament they might not be around to be a part of the development.

“But we are already seeing some interest expressed by the younger ones, because, for the first time, they could have a livelihood and see ways for their own development.”

The newly registered name, Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, has also gone a long way in removing the stigma of the community being associated with an alcoholic beverage, a popular brand name chicken and cannibalism, he said.

The Tomb Raiders …. Return to the Quest for El Dorado

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You can support our efforts by purchasing copies of LiTTscapes, commissioning LiTTours & LiTTevents; or ask about collaborating on our upcoming publications on Caribbean heritage for ages 3-103. That way we all win through sharing knowledge and information. See krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books
For collaboration details email lolleaves@gmail.com or call 1-868-377-0326

Tombraiding has been Hollywood glamourised through the Indiana Joneses and Lara Crofts and a range of new video games that play on this land-based version of the kind of piracy that used to prevail on the high seas around the Caribbean. And it dates back to the Caribbean as a target in the quest for El Dorado so many millennia ago. Not to be confused with body snatchers, it ranges from the activities of hobbyists seemingly innocently eager to hoard a bit of history so they comb graveyards to gather bits and pieces from or off tombs, to petty thieves looking to earn a quick shilling, to highly organised crime networks trading in black market heritage goods with complicity by individual collectors or even museum dealers participating in a very lucrative heritage trade market.
It has been a raison d’etre of interest in the Caribbean since

See Also: http://kris-rampersad.blogspot.com/2012/10/centuries-old-heritage-tomb-spanning.html#more

https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books
the first European explorers cast their eyes in this direction in the quest for El Dorado. With the world re-awakening to the value of culture and heritage and the Caribbean being a repository of histories and heritage of migrant streams from all the continents of the world, El Dorado is not just the bullion or traditional objects of value as gold and jewelry, but artefacts that may be believed to fetch high prices in the world market, or become part of heritage collections that may one day be sold to museums and archives for high prices. These lie underwater, on land, in documents and in the oral memory and traditions we hold.

This siphoning out of such assets and heritage, deprive local communities and populations of enjoyment and appreciation of their heritage but also of creating and generating incomes from legitimate heritage-based industries and activities. It was partly in response to this that UNESCO developed its albeit convoluted sets of conventions related to protection of natural, cultural, built, knowledge and information heritage, assets all aligned to a complex series of processes and procedures and international legal instruments. (See list below.) 

It is the stuff of movies, but as real as daylight. A range of these activities have gone unmonitored in Trinidad and Tobago, and indeed much of the Caribbean.
With little or no oversight mechanisms in place, it is virtually open season for heritage hunters and hoarders, regardless of motivation, to gather and dispose of as they wish – evidence of which we encountered on the inaugural LiTTour – Journeys Through Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago and described in the previous blog. 
Inadequate local legislation, deficient local structures and institutions, incompetent monitoring and enforcement authorities all contribute to making this a lucrative activity. High sounding national plans with little supportive resources, funds or mechanisms for implementation become recipes for failure.
Historic animosities fostered and entrenched between and among our populations also transfer to institutions that have grown up around heritage often piecemeal and hardly thought-out. Several institutions, most of them with overlapping jurisdictions, duplicate each other’s activities, holding heritage assets in a stranglehold whereby none can adequately perform their functions, and none can benefit. For instance there are at least six  public institutions, and several private ones and individuals with listings of heritage assets, duplicating each other with very little coordination among them.
Suspicion, mistrust, lack of confidence hang over these institutions which include bureaucratic government departments, agencies that include such front line institutions charged with guarding such assets as the National Trust and museum.
Indeed, an archaic museum model, run on a massa-type structure, borrowed from an old colonial rule (when those countries have evolved significantly more sophisticated systems) designed for a time when a country could have boasted of a single national museum still prevail, when a number of district and private museums now form part of the collective heritage system.
Even those charged with safeguarding heritage, foster a patronage approach and jealously guard their territory in obstructionist stances, holding culture and heritage in their deathgrips when they could be better served through collaboration and cooperation to release the full potential of the heritage sector for the development of communities.
Actions for heritage have in the large been shortsighted, piecemeal, often reactive, crisis oriented, a stop gap response to an immediate situation to avoid embarrassment or deflect from public rage until such rage can be redirected elsewhere and generally not thought out in ways that they can be of lasting and permanent benefit. And most are all-too-willing to state it is someone else’s problem and leave it there.
Deficiencies in the line agencies charged with heritage preservation Government agencies like the Trust itself, which is key as a frontline institution in heritage preservation and which glaring deficiencies have gone without being addressed for years.
But if you were to talk with anyone in the Trust, (s)he would also be pointing fingers in several other directions, including other government ministries and departments, who are also pointing at each other, the  National Museum of the lack of a proper museum system operating on an archaic model at a time when museums can no longer be regarded as static doormat institutions but are an active part of our living heritage (and maybe both point to one and the same obstacle).
I have spoken to several conservationists prior to and during this aroused interest in the Ganteaume tombs and the deep degree of distrust and lack of and loss of faith in the public institutions charged with heritage conservation (among others) and whose frustrations are no less than mine or my associates on that tour – and all with various degrees of a sense of powerlessness. Some have even also become tomb and beach combers and hoarders of heritage, taking for “safekeeping” because the institutions and persons charged with this function are not doing so. The argument that such activity helps in safeguarding such heritage predates the great battle between Egypt and England over the Sphinx or the Greek and British over the Elgin Marbles or the Indians and British over the Koh-i-noor Diamonds.  
And if you were to ask almost anyone in the conservation and heritage arena, they would tell you that the solution is with the local authorities – local NGOs or local Government who are falling short; or politicians or Government Ministries, Minister and officers; or the private sector (and as the old European childhood story says, ‘another ant took another grain of corn’ – lots of action and noise and committees and reports with no progress and no solution); at least no solution in which each sees himself/herself/themselves as a pivotal point to the problem(s). 
And therein is the problem: if we cannot take personal responsibility then of course, we have the situation like the McLeod House demolition; or the Ganteaume tomb, shedding tears after the fact and then go back to our business and lives until the next person highlight some other act of defacement or destruction.
How can we harness the energies of all the enthusiasts and institutions and others with direct and indirect interest to move forward with sustainable solutions and actions?
As I communicated to Mr Ganteaume, none of it is beyond any of us; it has been done by hundreds of other nations of the world; some much less resourced and much less enriched by the multidimensional and microcosmic heritage that we enjoy in Trinidad and Tobago; except that we often do not see it as such, but instead prefer to treat it as an albatross that some of us would prefer to pretend is a burden of no real significance.
The solution is to get on the same page.
From the range of all very positive and encouraging responses: ‘likes’ and comments and suggestions and emails and calls and contributions – I have received from around the globe on my last posting on the defaced tombstone in Mayaro, including some very distressed Ganteaume family members, it is clear that national sentiment for protection and conservation of heritage assets are high.
So why aren’t we doing something about it?
While we sit around in committees in grand talk sessions, drafting communiqués and reports, and plan PR site visits Rome burns, or rather, McLoed House is demolished and the tombraiders gather up their loot from graveyards and some of the other most valuable heritage around us and literally under our noses. I am heartened by the many responses I have had from persons who have been labouring, many of them behind the scenes, in heritage, and want to see us move forward in this in a constructive and positive manner, including Mr Henry Peter Ganteaume himself who has expressed an openness to help us work towards solutions. This is not an effort for any one of us; but for all of us. If we succeed in this, we have all of us to thank for it; if not, we then become little more than tombraiders. .krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books




The UNESCO Conventions and Instruments:
Please respect our copyrights
You can support our efforts by purchasing copies of LiTTscapes, commissioning LiTTours & LiTTevents; or ask about collaborating on our upcoming publications on Caribbean heritage for ages 3-103. That way we all win through sharing knowledge and information. See krisrampersadglobal/home/about-me/books
For collaboration details email lolleaves@gmail.com or call 1-868-377-0326