Freedom Village comes alive

The Rock Hall Freedom Village was transformed into a living museum yesterday afternoon as part of the last lap of the 13th Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA XIII).

Patrons who visited the island’s first village owned by ex-slaves were given a tour of the area and a brief history of the slaves who were from the nearby Mount Wilton Plantation. The all-day event included a genealogy workshop by the Department of Archives, at which interested visitors were taught how to research their ancestry.

The historic heritage site also came alive with colour and performances by the Haynesville Youth Club which brought dancers, stilt walkers and a Tuk Band into the community.

Speaking at the ceremonial launch of the living museum, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley spoke about the benefits of this community tourism endeavour.

“Projects such as this could very well serve as a plank to diversify our tourism industry. We have not yet begun to tap into the tangible benefits to be derived from community tourism and heritage tourism. This is a vast, untapped market, especially amongst the African Diaspora who are interested in matters relating to slavery and Emancipation,” he indicated.

The Minister of Culture revealed that the primary objective of the living museum was to promote great respect and knowledge of African history and the contributions made by those of African descent.

“This event is unique in nature as it seeks not only to celebrate but to educate and reaffirm our belief in our cultural heritage,” Lashley said.

He said the initiative would be driven by residents of the Rock Hall community.

Representative for the constituency of St Thomas, Cynthia Forde, while applauding the Minister for the project, urged him to actively continue to monitor its development as it was capable of contributing to the island’s tourism and entrepreneurial sectors.

“We have heritage Bridgetown. We want heritage St Thomas to be included so that when people leave Bridgetown, they go Holetown, they end up here in St Thomas,” she said.

“We too would be able to be more enterprising people in the village and in St Thomas, and more of our visitors will want to come in to be a part of the community tourism that is necessary as we go forward as a people.”

Source: (KK)

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