St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis can be empowered through learning about their cultural heritage, and therefore teaching it must be prioritized.
That’s according to Minister of Education and Culture Shawn Richards.
He was speaking at the opening ceremony for Leonard Stapleton’s new book Places of Memory, which focuses on the history of the island.
“I am of the view that once we are aware as to who we are as a people, we become more empowered as Kittitians and Nevisians. We have a greater appreciation for the sacrifices which would have been made by our forefathers and by having that greater appreciation we appreciate the things that we have now, but not only appreciate the things that we have now, but we appreciate ourselves as individuals, as Kittitians and Nevisians. As a matter of fact, I can say to you that UNESCO which has also assisted in the Ministry of Education in a review of the education sector strongly recommends that culture must become a subject, from the primary school level.”
Deputy Prime Minister Shawn Richards added that teaching and showcasing cultural heritage is necessary to the country’s national development.
“The fact is that we must also use our own unique cultural heritage, here in St. Kitts and Nevis, to help to develop our economy. And let me remind you, that culture isn’t just about the tangible things that we can touch, it isn’t just about the Brimstone Hill that we can touch, our culture also has the intangible aspects to it. The lady, for example, who would have just rendered the national anthem for us; that is indeed part of our intangible cultural heritage, and it is these things, whether it is the tangible or the intangible art forms that we need to use to ensure that we develop St. Kitts and Nevis in a sustainable manner so that at the end of the day, all of us can benefit from the economic development, here in St. Kitts and Nevis."
In a similar vein, Minister of Tourism Lindsey Grant said that the people of St. Kitts and Nevis must know their history in order to contribute to the tourism industry’s growth, as the local culture is a significant part of what attracts foreigners to the country.
Author of Places of Memory, Mr. Stapleton, says that the book is meant to be a reminder of the resilience of the enslaved Africans on the island, and their descendants.
“The name of the book speaks to ‘places of memory’ because too many times in our journeys around the island, we pass places where our ancestors did amazing things. We have ruins that have passed through countless earthquakes, hurricanes and are still standing. If you can just look at the ruins, and get that sort of inspiration, imagine if you knew the other stories. And so the themes about, “Adaptation and Survival”, “Resistance and Revolt”, “Human Rights”, and “Productivity and Contribution” shouldn’t be taken lightly. The book is set up so that once you enter that front page, and you finish that last page, you should not be the same."
Places of Memory will be used in primary and secondary schools on the island in the near future.