Use Memory of the World resource to transform education curriculum

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Remarks, Dr Kris Rampersad,
Chair, Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO at the Opening of UNESCO Pan-Caribbean Consultative Workshop on Memory of the World
Port of Spain, Trinidad, 25-27 September 2013
On behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO welcome to this Pan Caribbean consultative workshop on UNESCO Memory of the World initiative. While we are a national commission with essentially a national mandate, we also take very seriously our role as a member of the Caribbean community and the wider UNESCO region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
As we mark this year the 21st anniversary of the Memory of the World programme and 13th anniversary of the Memory of the World Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, it is perhaps timely for us to reflect on where we have reached with the programme.
In the short 13 years since, eight countries from the Commonwealth Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, St Kitts, Jamaica, Guyana, Dominica, Barbados, and the Bahamas) have inscribed 21 collections of documentary heritage on the International Memory of the World Register and twenty five collections on the Regional Register.
We tend to think of the University of the West Indies and Cricket as two main elements I am sure you will agree that this has offered us an opportunity to collaborate as a region in the 13 joint nominations submitted among several of our countries – and these by four national committees in Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and certainly I want to particularly recognise the work of the Trinidad and Tobago National Memory of the World Committee under the stewardship of Mrs Joan Osborne.
But much work still to be done in public engagement and to draw out private collectors and archivists to present their work for consideration so we can have broad representation of the diversity of cultures, languages and heritage.
Last year’s meeting underscored the need for greater involvement by countries in the Caribbean, and to support each other. Through the work of the Trinidad and Tobago national memory of the world committee we have enlisted:
—  The Derek Walcott Collection
—  The Eric Williams Collection
—  The C.L.R. James Collection
—  Registry of Slaves of the British Caribbean
—  Records of Indian Indentured Labourersof Trinidad and Tobago
—  The Constantine Collection
—  The Donald ‘Jackie’ Hinkson Collection
—  The Carlisle Chang Collection
—  The Digital Pan Archive
—  Records of Indian Indentured Labourers of Trinidad and Tobago 1845-1917
—  The Samuel Selvon Collection
At the MOWLAC meeting in Port of Spain 2012 the concern was raised of the involvement of countries in the region in the programme and how to encourage the creation of national committees and the number of nominations coming from the region. It was found that there was greater need for collaboration since in some countries the MOW programme was not visible and professionals and owners of collections did not know how to complete the nomination forms.
We should also recognise that much of the critical documentary heritage reside not only within the region but also in internationally-based institutions.
We hope this workshop will meet with similar success of preceding workshops in which nine inscriptions followed the 2009 workshop in Barbados, for example.
We note among the objectives of this is to strengthen the memory of the world programme through greater awareness, to increase nominations at the national, regional and international levels; and to develop an action agenda and a CARICOM MOW action plan for 2013- 2015.
I suggest that among the latter you also take a look at the current draft CARICOM-UNESCO memorandum of agreement and suggest any alternations you may need to make to the text relevant to accommodate the region’s outlook for the memory of the world programme within that MOU to be signed between Caricom and UNESCO at the General Assembly in November.
We know there are many, many areas in which we need to focus the heritage and I’d like to also stir attention away from the printed heritage which we all know limits us to the last few hundred years to other elements of record also recognised by the memory of the world register – to also consider other forms of documentation – items on stone, craft, recordings, visuals.
As we know, UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 from a growing awareness of the poor state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in various parts of the world – looting and dispersal, illegal trading, destruction, inadequate housing and funding have all played a part. Much has vanished forever; much is endangered. So a core element is to raise public awareness and mobilise communities to capture and preserve and promote respect and understanding.
In the region, we need to move quickly to secure our endangered archives – and I draw attention to the invaluable collections of the military history museum in Chaguaramas that contains information on the connections between our islands and South America, unrecorded elsewhere, and which can further expand  the recent inscriptions by Cuba of the  Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara, and Columbia’s of Francisco De Miranda and Simon Bolivar and it may be useful to supplement that with the archives of Mr Gaylord Kelshall of the Military History Museum who has researched and written extensively about this period which though recent, has still not been injected into teachings on our history and as the Minister of Education is here with us I’d like to recommend that we look at this immense UNESCO resource and work to revising the materials in the school curriculum – in history, social studies, civics, visual and performing arts, among others. This presents us with an opportunity to revise our textbooks using new research and information s there is need to establish critical synergies between archiving and education soWebiste is not just fossilised – and consider utilising this model of engagement between ministry of education, archive and library and the school system.
I’d also like to suggest that you consider how we may establish a facility to resource and fund acquisition and maintenance of public and private collections: like those of the Chaguaramas Military History Museum, and dozens of others in private collections and establish linkages with these.

And we also need to place some emphasis on capture yet undocumented heritage and utilise digitisation and engage the enthusiasm of our young people to collate data from disappearing knowledge holders.

World Heritage in the Caribbean

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World Heritage in the Caribbean: updating the Action Plan 2012-2013 Kingston © UNESCO Kingston / Official opening of the course in St. Mary’s, Antigua and Barbuda, March 24, 2013 April 8, 2013 / Kingston UNESCO World Heritage Center of UNESCO, in Paris, the UNESCO Offices in Kingston and Havana, in collaboration with the National Commission for UNESCO in Antigua and Barbuda, organized the training course for the Caribbean in the preparation of nomination dossiers for World Heritage , developed in St. Mary’s, Antigua and Barbuda, from 24 to 28 March 2013. This training exercise was designed within the framework of cooperation of Japan’s trust funds for the project “Capacity building to support World Heritage conservation and enhancement of the sustainable development of local communities in small island states (SIDS ) “. The official opening took place on March 24, 2013 at the Jolly Beach Hotel in Antigua, in the presence of Dr. Hon Winston Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon Winston Williams, Acting Minister for Education Sports, Youth and Gender Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda; Yoshimasa Tezuka His Excellency, Ambassador of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Alissandra Cummins, President of the Executive Board of UNESCO and the UNESCO National Commission in Barbados, so as representatives of the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO and the Organization offices in Kingston and Havana. Course, trace output to developed in June 2012 in Kingston, Jamaica, brought together about 20 participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Granada, Guyana, British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Bahamas. During the training the participants exchanged their candidature files and information, while receiving advice and guidance of facilitators and Caribbean experts as well as representatives of ICOMOS, IUCN and the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO. ‘s Workshop 5 days concluded with an action plan aimed at strengthening the professional capacities in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) for preparing dossiers to increase the number and quality of nominations of cultural heritage sites and natural, focusing on the Sites of Memory in the Caribbean. Participants also committed to continue its efforts to implement the World Heritage Convention, including through the completion of the application pack and awareness and public education on World Heritage issues and UNESCO Conventions in the field of Culture. Kingston Action Plan (updated) (available only in English) More information Note: Spanish translation provided by UNESCO Havana

An innovative approach to literature and landscapes – Stabroek News – Georgetown, Guyana

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An innovative approach to literature and landscapes – Stabroek News – Georgetown, Guyana

Professor Al Creighton presents LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad in Stabroek News ….

An innovative approach to literature and landscapes

Arts on Sunday

(Kris Rampersad, Littscapes: Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago, St Augustine, Trinidad, 2012 : 200 p.)
20110807artsonsundayIn reading this work we find a neat kind of confluence.  Guyana at this time is in the middle of celebrating nationhood – the peak of it was Republic Day yesterday. The publication which was launched in Guyana a week ago is a celebration of nationhood as it is captured through photography, an explanatory text and the literature of Trinidad and Tobago.  The easiest way to begin an analysis of this book Littscapes by Kris Rampersad is to describe it – give an idea so that the audience gets a clear picture of exactly what it is.  But that is not the easiest way, because it is a text that defies easy description.  There are more types that it is, than things that it is not.
Kris Rampersad

Kris Rampersad
The publication is Littscapes: Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad, published in St Augustine, Trinidad, in 2012.  The bibliographical details describe it as “First Edition 2012”, which is not surprising, given its multi-tasking nature and its wide reach, and this suggests also, that considering the several things that it seems to set out to cover, there is more to come in future editions.
It is 200 pages of written and visual text, presenting the landscape of Trinidad and Tobago in passages of descriptions, explanations and quotations, very impressively supported and complemented by hundreds of colour photographs and excerpts from the literature of the country.  Rampersad always interweaves into her own descriptions, the pieces taken from the literature, so that one gets pictures of the several varied subjects from the point of view of the writers and of their fictional characters. These are taken predominantly from works of fiction covering a range of short stories and novels, but to a lesser extent, there is reference to poetry and drama.
The idea of “littscapes” comes from drawing from the literature to give scenes, views and visions of landscape and life in clear, colourful, illustrative pictures as well as snippets of how they are treated in the literature.  It is a quite thorough artistic concept.  It is a portrait and biography of the nation of Trinidad and Tobago which actually pays tribute to the Repub-lic in 2012, the year of its 50th anniversary of Independence.  The book is attractively, neatly and effectively designed, using a recurring motif of the double-T – “TT”, which, of course, is “Trinidad and Tobago”, but is also “literature” so that there is not only the visual impact but the tribute to nationhood as reflected in the various works of literature.
Littscapes is a work of art; but also it is a documentary, a travelogue, a critical work with visual and literary power.  It takes us on a tour of the country, giving some exposure to almost every aspect of life.  It may be too heavy and too academic to be called a tourist guide, but no tourist guide can give a better, more comprehensive introduction to Trinidad. It entices and attracts just as the other glossy tourist literature does; it looks like a weighty volume, but an important factor is that it is very easy to read.  Neither is this link to tourism accidental, because one of the objectives of the book is that it must show the value that literature has in promoting and presenting and selling the nation. It must show different uses of literature, encourage new approaches to it and make it more attractive and interesting.  The book does for literature, what literature does for the country.
Rampersad tours the countryside and highlights features of it, at the same time exploring the literature to indicate how the writers treat the subjects, what they or their fictional characters say, and how they are used in the plots.  Photographs of several sections of Port of Spain are accompanied by the descriptions and literary excerpts; this treatment is given to the capital city, other towns, streets, urban communities, villages, historic buildings and places, vegetation, animals, institutions, culture and landscape.  There is considerable visual beauty, what Derek Walcott calls “visual surprise” in his Nobel Lecture (1992); an impressive coverage of social history, geography, and politics, but also a strong literary experience.  It is a survey of Trinidad’s landscape and of its literature.
The publication reflects a considerable volume of reading, drawing from as early as Walter Ralegh at the dawn of Caribbean literature, which adds historical character and depth to the landscape and culture.  The references include early fiction such as ARF Webber’s Those That Be In Bondage. The connectedness of nationhood becomes relevant again here, since both Webber and Ralegh have ties to Guyana as strong, if not stronger than those with Trinidad.  The relevance of this literature to the building of Guyanese nationhood is similar to the case of Trinidad here. Just as the historical development of the country is reflected in the places and monuments, so it is in the rise of social realism through the fiction of the 1930s in Port of Spain. Rampersad presents her subjects through the eyes of CLR James and writers from the Beacon group such as Alfred Mendes, and has done the painstaking work analogous to that of a lexicographer, of sorting out their several hundred references to her subjects.
This account includes some memorable passages of real literary criticism, although these are very brief. They include the entries on The Humming Bird Tree by Ian McDonald, another writer that is more Guyanese than Trinidadian, with instructive insights into the novel’s title and its meaning.  Others are the references to Lion House in Chaguanas and the Capildeo family which hold great interest for background to VS Naipaul.  Naipaul immortalises his mother’s family in Hanuman House and the Tulsis, and Rampersad provides additional information about Naipaul’s use of his migratory existence in her discussions of various parts of Port of Spain. There is also similar enlightenment in the way such locations as San Fernando, Mayaro and Princes Town accumulate greater meaning when used to treat the work of novelist Michael Anthony.  Yet another passage of deep criticism is the brief reference to “girl victims” as they are treated in the fiction.
The other side of that has to do with omissions and reductions.  There are many topics that appear undersubscribed.  There was not much information or there were hardly any literary references, even in places where it is known that the subjects were well treated in the literature.  Examples of these are the entries on politicians, calypsonians and superstitions, all of which abound in the fiction but are not sufficiently handled in Littscapes.  However, while that is noticeable, it could never be a requirement that the book must cover everything – as indeed, it cannot.  Were it a dictionary, one would fault the lexicographer on important omissions, but this work does so much already that it might be unfair to judge it on its omissions or reduced treatments.
Then there are the odd segments in which the publication does in fact behave like a tourist guide without the usual strength of literary material.  Added to this are the errors which are typographical as well as where some details of literary texts are concerned, such as characters, names and titles.  One or two authors are claimed as Trinidadian who might well be claimed by other islands.  Walcott has produced quite a lot of Trinidadian literature, but many references to his work in this book really belong to St Lucia, and not Trinidad.  Then there is the Tobago question.  Trinidad is in all respects the major and dominant island, and this is overwhelmingly reflected in Rampersad’s treatment.  She says in her text that Trinidadian writers on the whole neglect Tobago, treat it as the lesser of two sisters or do not treat it at all.  In this book, therefore, the imbalance is noted.
In the end, Rampersad’s Littscapes does achieve an innovative approach to literature in bringing it alive in the description of landscape, life, culture and people.  It encourages people to take ownership of it, see themselves, their home or familiar places in it and accept it as a definer of identity.  But the book is as much photography by Rampersad and others as it is literature, and the pictures help to illustrate, highlight and make the fiction real.
Above all Littscapes: Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago has an extremely powerful sense of place and reinforces what in Rampersad’s words is “the pull of place on authors”.  It may claim to be an accessory to what she calls “the body of fiction inspired by Trinidad and Tobago”.  It communicates the character of the country.
No one book can be everything; no one book can set out to achieve everything that a literature and a visual text can do for its people and its nation; but whatever you say one book can’t do, this one almost does it.

Heritage Convention workshop ends on positive note – stakeholders meet President

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A plan of action to preserve Guyana’s loyalty upon ratifying the 2003 Convention on Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage was advanced at the end of a two-day workshop hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Programme Specialist in Culture at the UNESCO Cluster Officer in Jamaica Himalchuli Gurung presents a book to President Donald Ramotar, in the presence of Minister of Culture Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, Director of Culture Dr James Rose and Secretary General for the Guyana National Commission for UNESCO Inge Nathoo

With Consultant Dr. Kris Rampersad facilitating, stakeholders at the workshop were able to map out a step-by-step process by which Guyana can safeguard its intangible cultural heritage. A key element will include involvement of community stakeholders where it is believed the wealth of knowledge about things cultural is guarded and the holders of that culture can be easily identified.
Dr. Rampersad, a media cultural and literary consultant, researcher and writer, who brought the good news to President Donald Ramotar, yesterday,  said the community component is a principal element.
“We are all on board with what these conventions can do for Guyana… in terms of activating the communities to take charge of their cultures, knowing how in Guyana some of the communities are so remote and the fact that some of the cultures are disappearing so quickly, not just with erosion from outside influences, but just from the mere fact that the young people are no longer interested,” Dr. Rampersaud said.
The workshop was deemed a success as it was well attended, lively and informative, according to Director of Culture Dr James Rose, who joined Minister of Culture Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony in yesterday’s courtesy call on President Ramotar.
The visiting team, which also included Programme Specialist in Culture at the UNESCO Cluster Officer in Jamaica Himalchuli Gurung, and Secretary General for the Guyana National Commission for UNESCO Inge Nathoo, engaged in meaningful dialogue with President Ramotar on the importance of preserving Guyana’s cultural heritage and the procedures and implications of ratifying the Convention.
In 2006, the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into force, with 149 member states as of January 2013 adopting.
It is based on the goals of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, ensuring respect for the intangible cultural heritage of communities, groups and individuals concerned, raising awareness of and appreciation for the importance of the intangible cultural heritage at local, national and international levels, and providing international cooperation and assistance.–stakeholders-meet-president&catid=2:news&Itemid=3

Intangible cultural heritage workshop very successful

Intangible cultural heritage workshop very successful-Minister Anthony
Georgetown, GINA, February 15, 2013
The Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO’s) two-day stakeholders’ workshop to raise public awareness of intangible cultural heritage has been deemed very successful by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony.
The ministry with support from UNESCO’s Kingston office launched the workshop at the Umana Yana on February 12, as part of this year’s Mashramani activities with the objective of creating public awareness of Guyana ratifying the 2003 Convention for safeguarding of the country’s cultural heritage.
Minister Anthony, Director of Culture Dr. James Rose, UNESCO, Programme Specialist in Culture, Himalchuli Gurung and Media/Literary/Cultural Consultant and Facilitator of the Workshop Dr. Kris Rampersaud this afternoon briefed the press on the result of the initiative.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, Director of Culture Dr. James Rose, UNESCO, Programme Specialist in Culture, Himalchuli Gurung and Media/Literary/Cultural Consultant and Facilitator of the Workshop Dr. Kris Rampersaud. The workshop sought to raise public awareness of intangible cultural heritage

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, Director of Culture Dr. James Rose, UNESCO, Programme Specialist in Culture, Himalchuli Gurung and Media/Literary/Cultural Consultant and Facilitator of the Workshop Dr. Kris Rampersaud. The workshop sought to raise public awareness of intangible cultural heritage
Minister Anthony said it was an important workshop that helped the participants to understand and better appreciate what the convention is about, and its role in protecting intangible heritage.
“Now we are better able to appreciate the value of the convention to a country like ours,” Minister Anthony said. “We thought that it was important to bring various stakeholders in, because by making people a little more aware of what is taking place in the world and what can be done locally, will help us to move this forward.”
Minister Anthony said that the dialogue that took place during the workshop would have caused Guyana to seriously consider ratifying the convention.
He also expressed gratitude for the UNESCO partnership and said that the ministry looks forward to other such joint ventures including one towards making Georgetown a Heritage site.
As a result of the workshop the participants committed and formed themselves into a National Stakeholder Awareness group towards promoting the convention across Guyana. A National Action Plan towards this objective was also reached.
Dr. Rose described the workshop as “two days of excellent interchange. The workshop helped us to better appreciate all the implications of the ratification. It helped us to become more conscious of the value, variety, diversity of Guyana’s intangible cultural heritage and the workshop gave us an opportunity to recommit ourselves to safeguarding that rich legacy which we hope to pass on to generations to come,” he said.
He said, the ministry was pleased with the participants’ commitment to working steadfastly towards seeing that Guyana ratifies the convention and doing everything possible locally and where necessary networking with regional and international bodies to ensure that Guyana’s intangible culture heritage is protected, promoted, studied and valued.
Dr. Rampersaud, in going through what took place in those two-days said that it was very commendable of the Guyana Government to first seek to bring public awareness of the convention before signing on.
“Often times we find in the region that countries go into things, ratify and then the public hears about it,” she said.
“Kudos for your country and Government that it needed to bring this before the public and lay out what are the terms and conditions of it, the implications,” Dr. Rampersaud added.
Gurung said that as of January 2013, the 2003 convention has been ratified by 149 countries around the world. “It is really gaining popularity because of its significance for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage,” she said.
Gurung said that UNESCO defines intangible heritage culture as living heritage and intangible culture is culture manifested through various forms including rituals, practices, and performing arts.

Stakeholders’ workshop seeks to raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage

Stakeholders’ workshop seeks to raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage
Georgetown, GINA, February 12, 2013
The Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport in collaboration with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO’s) Kingston office for the Caribbean, Jamaica and the National Commission for UNESCO Guyana, today launched a two-day stakeholders’ workshop to raise awareness on the 2003 convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage.
This workshop which is being held at the Umana Yana is part of this year’s Mashramani activities held under the theme, “Reflecting Creativity, Embracing Diversity”.
Books on display about Guyana’s history at the stakeholders’ workshop at the Umana Yana

Books on display about Guyana’s history at the stakeholders’ workshop at the Umana Yana
The convention is one of seven held in the field of culture and is intended to ensure respect for intangible cultural heritage of communities, groups and individuals, to raise awareness and appreciation of the importance of such heritage and to provide for international cooperation and assistance.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who declared the workshop open said that intangible things are of great importance in today’s society, and that the world today is truly coming together rapidly as one. “This is a good thing, this is something that many have been calling for all along, but there is the realisation that different cultures and languages may be dropped as the world becomes one,” the Prime Minister said.
The Caribbean with its four to five hundred years of turbulent history around slavery and indentured labourers has created a small area where the world has been coming together.
Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds delivering remarks at the launch of the stakeholders’ workshop at the Umana Yana

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds delivering remarks at the launch of the stakeholders’ workshop at the Umana Yana
PM Hinds highlighted that Government realises that culture is an important aspect of nation building, and lauded the Culture Ministry for its effort to make cultural activities relevant to the country.
Facilitator Dr. Kris Rampersad said that the workshop will explore the interrelation between and among the conventions, particularly, what these conventions have in store for the people of Guyana, and work towards implementing them.
She explained that participants will have a chance to learn how these conventions could strengthen policies, infrastructure, legislations, and the policy framework.
“We have the knowledge and the experiences that we can share with the rest of the world and we can use these mechanisms that UNESCO offers to do that,” she said.
Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds receives a copy of a book on intangible culture

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds receives a copy of a book on intangible culture
This programme started in 2006, and the domains covered by the convention include, oral expression and tradition, performing arts, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and traditional craftsmanship. At present, 149 countries have ratified this convention and 65 persons have been trained as facilitators.
“If you know what tangible culture is and how important it is, then you become more committed to it,” said Director of Culture Dr. James Rose. He encouraged persons to participate in this edifying workshop which will be of great benefit to them.
The work shop is being held under the theme, “Safeguarding our human treasure from generation to generation”.

On Anniversary of Raleigh’s sailing to TT

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Dear Lizzie,

My polished sword reflects the glint of glory my face will wear when I return from this discoverie for which I now depart with honour and glory for Queen and country…. 

The Grand unfolding of the great Ra-LIE-gh in LettertoLizzie….release soon….