EDITORIAL -Now the world is a-thinking of Bridgetown
WE?HAVE?ALL BEEN?IN?SEVENTH?HEAVEN since the breaking news on Saturday that our historic Bridgetown and Garrison had made the World Heritage List.
Perhaps in a state of greater ecstasy has been Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley. He was as pleased as Punch to be able to announce from Paris that Barbados had managed to get two of its heritage places “inscribed” as a UNESCO prestigious world site.
Few of us, if any, will not share in Mr Lashley’s glee. Who of us would not be proud knowing that Barbados “can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of the [other] prestigious sites of world-class heritage across the world”?
All those who sought, fought for and achieved this heritage honour for Barbados are to be publicly complimented and profoundly thanked. But it does not end here. There is an allusion by Mr Lashley that must not go unnoticed.
“One of the things we looked at,” said the minister, “is the historic layout of the streets of Bridgetown, which have remained unchanged for the past 400 years. They will have to remain the same way.”
Mr Lashley added that structures like the Parliament Buildings, the Carnegie Library and the Jewish Synagogue would now have to be preserved according to the World Heritage Convention.
Candidly, there is nothing to stop the World Heritage Committee from striking us off the list if we do not live up to our professed heritage image. And let us not be fooled that it will not take hard work, deep commitment to preservation and great social responsibility and sensitivity.
When our more sober moments are able to take over from our sense of ecstasy we might consider the challenges we could face.
World Heritage status has been known to bring to new sites floods of extra tourists whose footprints, some folks say, have done more harm than good. The designation could have the effect of preserving a living place in mothballs and spurring development. Remember Mr Lashley’s words: the 400-year-old street layout of Bridgetown must remain the same.
Having a site of outstanding universal value, we shall not escape the heritage police.
On the happier side, we are likely to get much more media attention, and draw many more film makers. After all, we now stand tall among the likes of the Pyramids of Giza, the Statue of Liberty, the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, and the Palace of Westminster.
But more than ever, for our very selves, we must save the Garrison and Bridgetown from the litterbugs and the vandalists!