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Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, has charged the nation’s cultural agencies to do more to increase awareness among the youth, of the country’s history and culture, so that they “can be truly proud of whom we are and the bona fides of our ancestry”.
“Our culture is a powerful driving force in national development. It prescribes the means by which we define ourselves as a people while instilling a sense of who we are. This, of course, directly influences our levels of productivity and ultimately our quality of life. It must engender pride in our historical achievements and inspire us to greater efforts”, Minister Assamba said.
She was giving the main address at a civic ceremony held on Saturday (Feb. 24) at the birth home of national hero Sir Alexander Bustamante in Blenheim, Hanover, to commemorate 123rd anniversary of his birth and to rededicate the home, which was rebuilt by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) at a cost of $2.1 million.
According to the Tourism Minister, the younger generation need information about the various historical periods through which the country has passed, the personalities, who sought to better the conditions under which they lived, and how these persons have impacted today’s Jamaica.
“I therefore challenge the Jamaica National Heritage Trust and the other cultural agencies to take the necessary steps towards creating a new awareness, especially among the younger generation, who did not themselves experience the various stages of political evolution through which the country has passed, to go out there and learn more about their history . to walk in the footsteps of their forbearers and learn about their struggles and triumphs,” she said.
She said it was important that the lessons of “our history be communicated in such a manner, so as to provide an objective basis for informing the present and preparing for the future. They need to know that we did not reach where we are overnight, that there were persons, who paid a price for the freedoms and benefits they enjoy today”.
She noted however that while institutions such as the JNHT, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission and the Institute of Jamaica were responsible for the preservation and protection of the country’s cultural heritage, Jamaicans also had an individual and collective responsibility in these efforts.
She stressed that government was committed to continue to provide the JNHT and related agencies with the resources to protect and develop the vast heritage potential that abound in the Jamaican landscape.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Minister urged the residents of Blenheim and surrounding communities to “protect the site as you would your own property, for in a sense you do own a piece of Sir Alex’s legacy. As the unofficial caretakers of the site for all Jamaicans, I know that I can depend on you all to guard it jealously and prevent others from destroying it’.
In his tribute to the late national hero, Leader of the Opposition, Bruce Golding, expressed pleasure at the work done to preserve the historic site.
“I want to say that I am pleased at the work that has been done . and I want to commend the government, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, the CHASE Fund and everybody for having put that house back together, and for having put Blenheim back together, because Blenheim couldn’t be Blenheim without Bustamante’s house as part of it”, Mr. Golding said.
Noting that the contributions of the national heroes, the ideals for which they struggled and the direction in which they led the country, represented not only a framework for the present but a pathway to the future, he urged that much more be done in order to “perpetuate their memories and delve into their insights, to inculcate and promote the values that they held out for us and to build the Jamaica they wanted us to have”.
The Bustamante birthplace was destroyed by a bush fire in March 2005.