MORANT BAY, Jamaica -- As Jamaica celebrates National Heritage Week, the St Thomas Co-operative Credit Union (STCCU) Limited has partnered with the Afrikan Heritage Development Association (AHDA) and the Social Development Commission (SDC) to host another STCCU Paul Bogle Commemorative Lecture and Symposium.
Delivered by the director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Verene Shepherd, on the topic “Righting the Wrongs of 1865: Sites of Memory and Decolonisation”, an impassioned plea was made for the construction of walls of honour for the martyrs of Caribbean freedom.
Turning to Jamaica and specifically to Paul Bogle, she called for the conversion of the Morant Bay court house into a museum and for the erection of a war memorial on which the names of all participants in the Morant Bay Freedom War are to be inscribed.
“Memorialisation is a critical component of the process of constructing a national or community identify; a central means of shaping memory,” said Shepherd.
Held in St Thomas, Jamaica, on the day to coincide with the Paul Bogle-led Morant Bay Uprising and to highlight its transformative role in a post-slavery Jamaica in the fight against social and economic injustices, landlessness and racism as well racial hierarchising, the overall objective is to raise the consciousness of Jamaicans, specifically the residents of St Thomas, with a view to strengthening the parish’s cultural, economic and social base.
“It is an attempt to bridge the gap between development and social issues through the work of co-operative and other community groups to provide a socially-inclusive development approach to empower communities. The annual lecture and symposium will be used to focus on the process of democracy, gender equality and rights. It is hoped that these efforts will boost other plans to reverse the alienation that continues to marginalise the parish,” said general manager of the STCCU, Hopeton Morrison, who leads the organising committee of this annual commemorative event.
The lack of knowledge and understanding of these systems of governance has resulted the lack of identify as a people and the resultant social decline.
“Such knowledge would help to anchor them (us) to a past, which, while filled with narratives of atrocities and hopelessness also contains episodes of agency; of triumph over brutality,” continued Shepherd, in emphasising her position.
“Compulsory history education would help to right that wrong,” she added.