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Highlight heritage

A call has gone out to organisers of the annual Oistins Fish Festival to place more emphasis on highlighting the Charter of Barbados and its historical importance to the island’s southern town.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, made this appeal as he addressed the official opening ceremony of the 2013 Oistins Fish Festival last Saturday.

Stressing that Government was committed to the preservation and promotion of the island’s cultural heritage, Minister Lashley said: “The festival should highlight to a greater extent the historical significance of Oistins as the location at which the 1652 Charter of Barbados was signed.”

According to the book A-Z of Barbados Heritage, the Charter of Barbados is a treaty which comprises 23 clauses including liberty in religion and no taxation without consent in the Barbadian Assembly. It was a form of constitutional recognition for the Barbadian planters which gave them the right to rule themselves. It also confirmed that Englishmen living overseas were entitled to the same political freedoms that they enjoyed at home.

Minister Lashley noted that the festival was currently marketed as an event held in celebration of this signing, and pointed out that this aspect of Oistins’ heritage should receive greater emphasis.

“…The sharing of information on this historic event should be made a far more prominent component of the Oistins Festival,” he added, further suggesting that in general, the importance of the Charter of Barbados should be exploited more.

The Culture Minister recalled that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart also stressed its significance last year when Stuart attended the launch of the 1652 Foundation and the unveiling of its plans to commemorate the 360th anniversary of the signing of the Charter.

Quoting an excerpt from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s recent speech at that event, Lashley said, “…It had helped to pave the way for many of the advances in this country through the promotion of the rule of law, freedom of conscience and the right to own property, which helped to develop the structure of governance which we have today.”

Furthermore, the Culture Minister noted that his Ministry was “fully committed to continuing its efforts to ensure that Barbadians understand and fully appreciate their cultural heritage.” He then called on the festival’s organisers to collaborate with his Ministry for this type of promotion.

“I am sure that working together, the critical importance of the signing of the Charter of Barbados at Ye Mermaid’s Inn in Oistins Town, can be appropriately highlighted as yet another aspect of our heritage of which we can be proud,” he reasoned.

Citing the inscription of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a prime example of cultural heritage impacting on the world stage, Minister Lashley added there was much more in Barbados’ “colourful history” which must be understood and appreciated by Barbadians and the rest of the world.

“…Make it your business to learn about our history, to get to know that story of our people and their struggles (The Charter of Barbados), of the sacrifices which were made in order for us to be where we are today, and to live in a modern and progressive Barbados,” he urged. (BGIS)

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