Port of Spain
This is of course one of several capacity building exercises in which the National Commission is engaged to help develop national capacity, whether it is in creating classrooms like this or sending nationals to benefit from UNESCO training and capacity building opportunities elsewhere.
In this, today we are one step closer to safeguarding our intangible cultural heritage through the mechanisms and provisions of the in Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention – often referred to as the 2003 Convention
It is one of several conventions, quasi legal instruments promoted by UNESCO, to capture, preserve and share the rich diversity of our lifestyles and cultures with each other and promote peace and understanding among our communities and between societies.
This is an exercise to empower our communities and practitioners and knowledge holders in retaining and transmitting knowledge, skills and practices as much as it is in strengthening the mechanisms for researching, documenting, archiving, inventorying for the benefit of future generations.
We think of and lament loss of those knowledge holders who have taken stock of knowledge with them: like Peter Harris who died recently with much of his research and knowledge of prehistoric societies of Trinidad and Tobago passing with him without our realisation of how such knowledge could enrich our understanding of ourselves and of our societies and for our future generations. We must move quickly to capture the accumulated knowledge and experiences these knowledge holders have and let that be part of our thinking when we think of drawing up our inventories – who are some of the most critical sources of knowledge that we should reach before we lose them and irretrievably, too, lose their knowledge.
We are here to strengthen identification of who and what we are; to quote a popular calypso – how we does walk, how we does talk, how we does cook, how we does lime and wine, key elements that place us among representatives of the sea of humanity that is the UNESCO community.
The focus of this convention on intangible cultural heritage is on the living expressions, knowledge and skills and traditions in the performing arts, oral traditions, practices, beliefs, festivals
Though intangible, we know that they are pivotal to holding the diverse fabric of our social tapestry together, to help intercultural dialogue among ourselves and with communities similar or different elsewhere to promote and, encourage mutual respect for one another. This exercise is part of the mechanism to particularly address what is a common cry among us; to define and promote inclusivity, to make communities feel represented, understood and respected in the national milieu.
We will find in this process much that we are doing well, and we would want to table these and inventory them among the best practices we would want to share with the rest of the world.
In other areas, we can use the help, particularly in developing infrastructure, systems and processes to respect and value what we have.
A most significant element of this convention is the importance and value it places on communities as central to the smooth running of state apparatus – a fact that sometimes get lost within our bureaurcracies and macro based policies and positioning.
(From left) Discussing safeguarding national heritage at the opening of the workshop on UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage are: facilitators Rieks Smeets, Chair of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO Dr Kris Rampersad; Minister of Arts and Multicultralism Dr Lincoln Douglas, Ambassador of Japan Yoshimasa Tezuka, facilitator, Harriet Deacon, and culture specialist in the UNESCO Jamaica regional office, Hima Gurung. Photo courtesy Kris Rampersad
Call made to preserve local heritage
“We cannot allow our unique traditions to die out with the older generation.” That was the message delivered on Saturday by the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Dr. Lincoln Douglas, who said our cultural heritage must be preserved for future generations.
He spoke at a Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Kapok Hotel.
In keeping with the guidelines laid out in the UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, many local cultural practitioners participated in the workshop.
The Minister said the store of knowledge, which is passed down from generation to generation, is fading and must be collected and documented.
Dr. Kris Rampersad, the Chairperson of the National Commission for UNESCO, said although this country is small in size and more vulnerable to external influences, we can become a strong counter-cultural force if we are secure in our cultural identity.
She said a greater focus on local content on television is needed to promote culture.
The Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism is the keeper of the flame and Minister Douglas said the “Remember When Institute” will serve as a storehouse of the collective cultural conscience for generations to come.
Inventorying of living heritage builds momentum in Trinidad and Tobago
20 June 2013 – Community practitioners, government officials and members of non-governmental organizations are mobilizing themselves for a national workshop on inventorying of intangible cultural heritage to be held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 22 June to 1 July 2013.
Organized by the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of the Arts & Multiculturalism of Trinidad and Tobago and the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, the workshop marks a significant step in safeguarding the living heritage of Trinidad and Tobago. It will focus on community participation in the identification and inventory of intangible cultural heritage, organization and management of information, and hands-on experience in preparing field work. The field activity will be reinforced by a pilot inventory activity to follow in proceeding months.
Funded by the Government of Japan, the workshop is part of a sub-regional project being implemented in Belize, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago within the context of UNESCO’s global strategy on capacity building to safeguard intangible cultural heritage. It will be conducted by two experts from the UNESCO facilitators’ network: Harriet Deacon and Rieks Smeets.
While Charlie King Junction in Fyzabad South Trinidad was reliving the labour struggles of the early 20th century that preceded Independence, Ambassadors, diplomats, their spouses and other enthusiasts enjoyed a simulating CiTTyscape LiTTour – Journey Through the Landscapes of Fiction of Trinidad and Tobago based on the book: LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Kris Rampersad.
Among those who participated were Excellencies, Ambassador of Japan Yoshimasa Tezuka and Mrs Tezuka; Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Wonkun Hwang and Mrs Kumdan Hwang; Jan Karlsson spouse of the Ambassador of the Netherlands; Anke Kessler, spouse of the Ambassador of Chile; members of Alliance Francais, musicians Katy Gainham and Eleanor Ryan; Ben Gilbert, son of the Security Adviser to the UN Department of Safety and Security for this region; artist Wendy Nanan and Alliance Francais Marie and Frank Abdullah. The tour was facilitated by author and educator in Caribbean literature, culture and heritage
LiTTour and LiTTscapes in spotlight as Bocas LiTFest Begins Thursday
Last 2 Days for Free LiTTour Offer: Register Now! call 1-868- http://goo.gl/pcZxm
Bocas Lit Fest begins tomorrow
Special LiTTour to Celebrate Port of Spain
A special tour of Port of Spain through the eyes of award winning fictional writers and famous characters fiction will be offered to citizens and visitor to Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday April 27, 2013. Booking Form LiTTour April 27 2013. Deadline April 25: 2013
The LiTTour is an offspring of the critically acclaimed LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago by Dr Kris Rampersad.
It will celebrate Port of Spain as a creative city like no other. It takes place on Saturday April 27, 2013 from 8 am by prebookings only, leaving from the South Quay compounds of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC).
This LiTTour is a special collaboration with PTSC’s Know Your Country Tours to expose the capital city as seen through the eyes of authors in its raw, real and pulsating states as one of the most creative cities in the world, of Trinidad and Tobago.
We hope to renew and heighten appreciation of our capital and understanding of the literary and creative imaginations that have been representing and reflecting us, and our city: our landscapes and our lifestyles; our institutions, our cultural life, our politics, our architecture. We hope such appreciation can defray violent and negative practices that misrepresent who we are as a people and encourage young people into creative activity and away from lives in crime.
The LiTTour will be free to persons who between now and April 25, 2013, purchase, a copy of LiTTscapes – Landscapes of Fiction from Trinidad and Tobago. For details contact 1-868-377-0326; email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit:www.kris-rampersad.blogspot.com.
LiTTscapes describes through descriptions and photographs how some 60 writers in more than 100 works have portrayed Trinidad and Tobago in literature from as early as 1595 to present day. It is designed by Sonja Wong. Head of the Guyana Prize for Literature, Professor Al Creighton described LiTTscapes as a work of art; 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, 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 are accompanied by the descriptions and literary excerpts of 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 conjunction with LiTTscapes and LiTTours, launched last August, we has also introduced LiTTributes – events in tribute to Caribbean cultures and creativity which have to date been staged in Guyana, Antigua and Trinidad and Tobago and soon in the UK and USA. They are meant to promote literacy, creativity and interactive appreciation of the global multicultural milieu Trinidad and Tobago.
Customade LiTTributes and LiTTours based on district, theme or body of literature are available on request.
For details contact 1-868-377-0326; email email@example.com and visit:www.kris-rampersad.blogspot.com; https://www.facebook.com/kris.rampersad1; https://sites.google.com/site/krisrampersadglobal/; http://caribbeanliterarysalon.ning.com.
Booking Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1m5OdAF9aek29CLOfVp8xgkNc9kJtFAgjXm7I_jMQ-gk/viewform
Revolution through reading /saving the magnificent seven We as citizens who pass by the Magnificent Seven everyday; we have even have stopped noticing them, or their magnificence, because they conjure up only a lament – not just the painful past of colonialism, but the sad testimony of the state – or lack thereof, of our development; to disguise our pain that we have allowed them to deteriorate into oblivion. But are we not all responsible in some way for this – it’s not just someone elses’ fault. It has to start with what am I not doing? Excerpt from speech at launch of LiTTscapes:
Millions to fix ‘Magnificent Nine’
Incumbent President George Maxwell Richards, who demits office on March 17, has lived in the nearby Presidential Cottage and not President’s House. Shortly after the People’s Partnership Government assumed office in May 2010, then Works and Transport (now National Security) Minister Jack Warner promised to repair President’s House so Richards might reside there before his term expired this year. Persad-Bissessar even offered the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s as a possible residence for Richards but the President declined that offer.
“This will have to involve Government, and private partnerships including the churches. The State alone, will not be able to bear the costs,” Minister of Tourism Stephen Cadiz said during a tour of the century-old Magnificent Nine buildings that faces the Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS) on last Wednesday.
“Restoration is not just only about tourism. It is about the country’s history and heritage. For too long we have overlooked that. We have allowed a number of heritage buildings – whether it was old residences, or, Government buildings like the Red House to go into a serious state of disrepair.” When the buildings are restored, Cadiz said, “they must be part of a museum infrastructure.”
Initially only seven of the buildings Stollmeyer’s House also known as “Killarney”, Whitehall, Archbishop’s House, Ambard’s House also called “Roomer”, Mille Fleurs also known as “Prada House”, Hayes Court and Queen’s Royal College were referred to as the “Magnificent Seven” of Port-of-Spain. In recent years the National Trust added the President’s House also found in the vicinity of the QPS and Red House — the official seat of Government in downtown Port–of-Spain to the list of magnificent buildings referring to the nine as the “Magnificent Nine of Port-of-Spain.”
With the exception of President’s House, originally known as Government House built in 1844, and Red House – the foundation of which was laid in 1844, the others were built in or around 1904. They are all European-designed with distinct works of art that include stained windows, imported materials including limestone, marble and wood from Barbados, Europe and Guyana blended with local materials that have braved the elements over the years.
While Knowsley Building, and Boissierre House (also called the Gingerbread House) are found in close proximity to the Magnificent Seven, and are not listed among the Magnificent Buildings, the National Trust has listed them as important architectural heritage. Knowsley building is State-owned and is one of the better kept buildings, however, Boissiere is privately-owned and is currently in a state of disrepair. According to the National Trust the first Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams’ grandmother, worked with the Boissiere family. The National Trust has identified a total of 341 heritage buildings countrywide for preservation.
Of the Magnificent Buildings, Cadiz said, “These are high maintenance buildings, designed and built since 1904. There is going to be constant work and funds required in keeping them up.”
At Queen’s Royal College, Principal Lennard Hinkson said that a unique way has been found to assist in the preservation of the oldest part of the school complex..
“The first formers were placed on the ground floor of this building deliberately,” he said, “because they are the most innocent and they will take care of it. The sixth formers are the most matured and they too will take care of it.” The forms in between are placed in newer parts of the school buildings.
Though the oldest block looks well kept, Hinkson said that it was in need of repairs.
“Sadly, my many letters and phone calls to the Ministry of Works,” he said have not been responded to.
Hayes Court is owned by the Anglican Church. It is the official residence of the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of TT, but Bishop Claude Berkeley does not live there because it is in a state of disrepair.
During the tour Berkeley appealed to the touring team (that included representatives from the Ministries of Tourism, Works, Arts and Multiculturalism, and the National Trust) to make representation on his behalf for assistance from the State to have Hayes Court restored to its former glory. In 2009, a structural survey revealed that some $25 million was needed for its restoration.
In the past, he said the church had been told that it was private property.
At present, Berkeley said that a dilapidation survey was being done to determine the priority needs, and a committee was in place seeking funds to begin restoration works. Berkeley has a home in Tobago and has to commute regularly to Trinidad. “We hope to correct that in the not too distant future to continue the work begun here over 200 hundred years ago,” he said.
Mille Fleurs is among the most dilapidated of the buildings around the QPS. “It has been left without repairs for too long,” Cadiz said noting that “Udecott (Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago) will conduct a structural survey of Mille Fleurs, then we will know what to do. It can be salvaged and in the short space of time we will see Mille Fleurs return to its original magnificence.”
Ambard’s House is privately-owned by the Roodals family and is also in dire need of repairs.
Stollmeyers Castle, now owned by the State is under repairs. Work began in March 2010 and is due for completion in March this year once funding is released on time Udecott officials on site told Newsday. Once restoration is complete it will be handed over to the Ministry of Works.
Tenders to contractors for the restoration of the nearby Whitehall, first official office of Prime Minister Eric Williams are due for advertising during the first quarter of this year. Some work had been done on it in recent years, but according to a Udecott official that work “was compromised.”
The Archbishop’s House, residence of the Head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of TT, is fairly well kept. In 1968, $147,000 was raised to carry out major repairs on the buildings. It is currently the home of Archbishop Joseph Harris.
The President’s House is also due for restorative works. In May 2010 a section of the roof of the President’s House caved in 2010. During this fiscal year’s budget debate in October 2012, Works Minister Emmanuel George announced that funding was allocated for the repairs to the President’s residence. Construction is yet to begin.
Applauding the tour, Michelle Celestine, spokesperson of Save the Magnificent Seven, a sub-group of the Citizens for Conservation (CC) told Newsday it was time that Government pay some interest in the buildings. “Government after government have sat by and let them fall into disrepair. It is a disgrace that in (TT) we have tourists seeing the buildings – works of art and beauty, constructed by skilled nationals, falling apart.”
Once restored, she said, “they could be put to meaningful purposes, as art galleries, and museums. They will create jobs and places of interest in our capital city.”