- Jamaicans are being encouraged to make the trek to Kitson Town in St. Catherine for the Emancipendence period.
- The site of the second free village after Sligoville, following Emancipation, Kitson Town is home to several historical sites.
- These include places of worship, cemeteries, plantations, and the caves and a trail used by the legendary Captain Cudjoe and the maroons during the 1728 to 1739 war with the British.
Jamaicans are being encouraged to make the trek to Kitson Town in St. Catherine for the Emancipendence period.
The site of the second free village after Sligoville, following Emancipation, Kitson Town is home to several historical sites.
These include places of worship, cemeteries, plantations, and the caves and a trail used by the legendary Captain Cudjoe and the maroons during the 1728 to 1739 war with the British.
The Kitson Community Development Committee (CDC) has partnered with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Social Development Commission (SDC) and West Central Hope, to organise tours of these historical sites, while creating income-earning opportunities for residents.
The agencies have trained several of the community’s youth as tour guides to provide assistance and information on the cultural and historical significance of the area to those who visit.
President of the CDC, Devon Thompson, who led a recent tour with several stakeholders, outlines that Kitson Town is a beautiful community that is already attracting a number of visitors through the Airbnb model, and the tours will enhance the area’s appeal.
“The history that we have can be of tremendous value to the community. The plan is to organise regular tours and showcase the rich history of the area and develop a tourism product that will benefit the community,” he says.
Mr. Thompson, in highlighting some of the attractions, tells JIS News that the Red Hills Methodist Church has preserved several tombs where slaves were buried, while the St. John’s Anglican Church in Guanaboa Vale has graves from the 16th and 17th centuries.
He shares that the tombstones bear “very neat emblems and works of art that tell the stories of those buried there”.
Secretary of the CDC, Donna Daley, tells JIS News that the Gallery Hub, a foundry located in Kitson Town square, contains artefacts going back to the days of slavery.
“There are vivid images of what life was like at that time of our history and it speaks to the value that Kitson Town has,” she notes.
“So we are taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of the heritage of Kitson Town and to build this community for the betterment of Jamaica,” she adds.
One of the tour guides, Donald Fletcher, says that Kitson Town has a “lot of valuable assets”.
He cites the Cudjoe Hill caves used by Captain Cudjoe to elude the British, noting that one contains a beautiful waterfall.
Caryleon Riley, another tour guide, welcomes the community tourism project in generating income for the youth.
“We have lots of potential employment here. We just want the community to be developed more, so we can have people coming in for the tours, and investments can be put in the sites,” she shares.
Kitson Town was set up in 1841 as a gift from the Reverend James Philipo, a Baptist missionary, who bought lands from the British for the freed slaves.
The property, previously known as Scot’s Hall Plantation, accommodated a school and a chapel, with the majority of the space used for dwelling and crop cultivation.
It now houses the Kitson Town Primary School, the Kitson Town Basic School, the Kitson Town Community Resource Centre, the Kitson Town Baptist Church, and a cemetery.
July is celebrated as Kitson Town Month, and the CDC has spearheaded several activities such as a community breakfast; a church service to reflect and give thanks for the community’s achievements; and an art and craft exhibition at the Kitson Town Community Resource Centre to showcase the creative work of residents.
The activities culminate on Wednesday (July 31) with an Emancipation Vigil on the grounds of the Kitson Town Baptist Church, which will run until 2:00 a.m. on Thursday (August 1).
The event will feature food stalls, cultural presentations, reflections on the past, conversations for the future, prayers, and reading of the Emancipation proclamation.