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EDITORIAL – Saluting our heritage

luigimarshall, [email protected]

EDITORIAL – Saluting our heritage

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ATTAINMENT OF THE inscription of Historic Bridgetown and the Garrison as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site is something all Barbadians should be proud of.
It is an enviable designation as there are only six other places in the Caribbean that have so far achieved this feat, and it opens the door for another aspect for tourism development.
The team led by Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley to Paris, France, must be congratulated for their work to secure this designation. He and his team had to put Barbados’ case strongly before the World Heritage Committee as they were prepared to defer our application for a further two years based on inaccurate information. So kudos to them.
But Lashley’s team is not the only ones who made this success possible.
The rehabilitation of Bridgetown by the previous administration spearheaded by Dame Billie Miller the former parliamentary representative for the City, cannot be overlooked. This is not a political point but one of fact.
The transformation of Independence Square from a rundown car park to a relaxing garden-type setting, the redevelopment of Jubilee Gardens, the Old Town Hall, and the beautification of Swan Street were just four projects undertaken. There was also the refurbishment of the west wing of Parliament which had been closed for some time.  Today it houses the museum of our 372-year-old Parliament, the third oldest in the British Commonwealth.
Though these projects and the others done to revitalize Bridgetown and the Garrison were commendable, and played a part to the achievement of the designation, the fact is the real work to maintain these sites now has to be done.
This is a point not lost on Lashley who announced on his return that an intensive public education programme would be mounted to sensitise Barbadians about the designation.
He further promised that a special working group would be convened soon with other ministries to “strategically set the tone for how we move forward in terms of the benefits to be derived from the development”.
Lashley said Cabinet had already approved the Management Plan for the area and officials would ensure it was properly executed.
As each Barbadian is a stakeholder in this, we would suggest that the contents of the plan is fully ventilated so that every citizen can buy into it, or at least know the ramifications.
On this point we are heartened that World Heritage Site status will not hinder future development of the area.
In giving this assurance, chairman of the Barbados World Heritage Committee and this island’s Chief Town Planner, Mark Cummins, said there would be preservation and development in the area, but a balance would have to be struck.
This apart, one aspect of our heritage which would have to be seriously re-examined in the light of this designation is whether we continue with the name Heroes Square or revert to the original name Trafalgar Square for the area where the statue of Lord Horatio Nelson stands.
The renaming of the square was a controversial decision with some academics arguing that Barbadians must recognize the positive as well as negative aspects of their history. With the designation we cannot now discard our ancestors’ admiration for Nelson which led them to erect the statue of him before the more famous one in London.

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