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EDITORIAL: Worthy push for Landship recognition


BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Worthy push for Landship recognition

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In the midst of a raging debate on the economy and the observance of Crop Over Festival, which is easily our greatest manifestation of our cultural heritage, there comes news that steps are being taken to have the indigenous Barbados Landship Association recognized by the UNESCO.
This revelation has come from no less an authoritative source than Dr Marcia Burrowes, who is a member of the association’s 150th anniversary planning committee.
This is indeed very welcome news, coming as it were on the heels of the recognition of Bridgetown as a World Heritage Site, and all Barbadians must help to drive this proposal to a successful conclusion.
In the face of a denial by their colonial masters of the heritage and culture of our captured and oppressed forefathers it became important for their survival in captivity that cultural seed long buried in the deeper recesses of the minds of our ancestors should spring and grow.
That it grew in a form and manner that spoke to the dreadful condition of the captured and presaged a less dismal future is testimony to the indefatigable nature of the human spirit, and speaks volumes to our cultural legacy as descendants of a people who found a way to exist in circumstances foreign to their natural heritage.
The nature of our existence in this region has enriched the world in a manner which is as original as it diverse. The invention of the movable chattel house, the creation of the steel band, the application and adaptation of European practices to indigenous ways such as the Landship; and the agrarian techniques skilfully applied by our ancestral fathers to the production of local sugar cane crops – all these are as much a story of metropolitan exploitation as of the creative application to the menial tasks at hand of captured labour!
The Landship is therefore as powerful an expression of our culture as are, for example, the steel band and the calypso. True it may be the more intangible an expression but once we understand our history and ourselves we should be able to recognize that fragile as it may be, our intangible culture is nonetheless a critical part of our culture.
The practices and skills transmitted through institutions like the Landship and the wealth of knowledge passed on as part of the oral tradition must be kept alive for the benefit of our people and our country.
We are therefore fully supportive of this latest effort; and as Dr Burrowes pointed out, once the Landship is recognized and we are listed on the register, then it becomes the responsibility of the Government and people
of this country of ensuring the longevity of the Landship, by ensuring and securing records and creating archives and doing things of that ilk. We urge all Barbadians to support this very worthy venture; not least because the preservation and promotion of our culture pay homage to our history and to our ancestors. But it can also contribute significantly to our present tourism-based economy.

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