JIS News

Visiting Austrian Federal Minister for Education, Science and Arts, Helen Gehrer, handed over a brand new big screen television set and videocassette recorder (VCR) valued at over $100,000 to the Accompong Maroon Council in St. Elizabeth, late last week.
Colonel of the Accompong Maroons, Sydney Peddie, in accepting the gift, outlined the need to preserve and document his people’s heritage, history and culture.”This gift will go a long way in helping us to highlight for our many visitors a lot of what we have documented, we in Accompong have long recognised that we have to make use of modern technology such as computers to inform the world about the Maroons,” he said.
Colonel Peddie pointed out that for Accompong to continue one had to be very careful that young people in the village were constantly reminded of their past.”We have to be very vigilant that a proper balance is maintained between old and new knowledge and in this regard we have receive much help over the last few years from the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo.),” he remarked.
The Maroon Colonel stated that his vision was for Accompong to be one of Jamaica’s premier tourist attractions.
“I believe that if we do the right sort of development this little town can become the most sought after destination in the West Indies if not the world.these days Montego Bay and Negril are bursting at the seams and so I say with the right structure being put in place, we can get there not too long from now,” he stressed.
Colonel Peddie mentioned some of the work done by TPDCo. in the village. “They have refurbished our community centre and established a library and computer room, install public sanitary facilities, new garbage bins, establish story boards and signs and train our tour guides,” he said.
Human Resource Manager at TPDCo. Hugh Shim, in bringing greetings mentioned the role of his organisation in terms of the development of Jamaica’s tourism product.
“What we try to do is to find projects. to do some work in terms of infrastructure, training and so forth, we also helped them to form a community development committee to work on the business of the community.because Accompong has been here, visitors have been coming up, what we have tried to do is to ensure that basic amenities are here, it is a town that is a natural attraction in terms of heritage and culture,” he explained.
Mr. Shim explained that TPDCo. was also working with the Maroons to acquire appropriate technology. “Hopefully the Colonel will be doing his own marketing by having his own website up and running so the study and history of Accompong may be accessed via the Internet,” he said.
Minister Gehrer, in her remarks, said that the gift was a direct result of the very friendly ties that had been established between Accompong and other visiting Austrian nationals.
“Our noted world acclaimed anthropologist, Professor Zipps, who lived here and who wrote a book on Nanny and Cudjoe insisted that I come to Accompong and bring greetings as well as this gift,” she said.Minister Gehrer stated that the local Maroon museum could profit from the use of the new audiovisual equipment she had presented.
“This will allow visitors and Maroons alike to see parts of the extraordinary cultural heritage, we are also planning to copy all material that have been assembled by our Austrian researchers and deliver them to you next time,” she remarked.
The Austrian Education Minister indicated that she had listened very keenly to what the Maroon Colonel had said in welcoming her to the village.
“I have noticed what you have said about what is necessary for the future of Accompong and to me it is very necessary to have a community centre, library and (on my tour) I saw a new building where young people can receive vocational training and I think that this is a great work that you have done for this community with your council,” she said.

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