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Hallowed ground


Hallowed ground

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Bring the national graveyard to life. That is the suggestion from some prominent Barbardians in relation to the main burial space, the Westbury Cemetery, to make it a monument of historic significance.

Chief executive officer of the Copyright Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Inc. (COSCAP), Erica Smith, proposed that the 142-year-old burial ground be developed as a heritage tourism attraction as she spoke at a rededication for the grave of acclaimed Barbadian entertainer Dalton “Jackie Opel” Bishop.

Smith’s suggestion also got the backing of Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, as well as former entertainment promoter Mark Williams, who were part of the large contingent that attended the event held at Bishop’s graveside in the cemetery yesterday.

Using the Pere Lachaise garden cemetery in Paris, France, as a model, Smith said that just as they had capitalised on some of the historical figures there, likewise there was no reason why Barbados couldn’t do the same.

“Similarly, we can beautify and maintain this cemetery so that it is an addition to the Rihanna Drive tour highlighting the resting places of well-known Barbadians for those tourists and locals who want to learn more about our heritage and history. At the same time, it will also demonstrate reverence and respect for those who have passed,” Smith explained.

Williams lamented that before its rededication, Bishop’s grave as well as other outstanding Barbadians had been left unkempt and became unrecognisable over the years.

He said the island was not taking full advantage of the gains from an historic setting, particularly since it was located between two internationally known landmarks, Kensington Oval and the recently branded Rihanna Drive.

“Thirty-five steps away from here is a grave that cannot be discovered, that cannot be pointed out, of a man called Captain [Lieutenant Joseph] Griffith, who was the first black Barbadian to become director of the [Royal] Barbados Police Force band . . . .  l am saying to you, let’s change this this morning, Mr Minister, or whoever becomes the Government of this country. This area between Deacons Road and the four crossroads of Kensington, it is a catchment area based on the fact that all cemeteries carry the history of a country.”

Lashley also embraced the call by both Williams and Smith that Barbados needed “to do more to immortalise this area upon which we sit and stand, as part of our cultural heritage tourism focus. Indeed you have my full support in that regard.” (SDB Media)