History took center stage during the
dual celebration of the inscription of the St. Kitts
Registry of Slaves into UNESCO's Memory of the World
Register, and the launching of the Web site, 'Basseterre,
Past and Present, tomorrow' (www.historicbasseterre.com),
on Tuesday afternoon, April 20, at the National Information
Communication Technology (ICT) Centre.
|UNESCO National Commission Secretary
General Antonio Maynard presents the certificate
attesting to the inscription of the St. Kitts
Registry of Slaves into UNESCO's Memory of the
World Register to Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas.
Among those attending the event were
His Excellency the Governor General Sir Cuthbert Sebastian,
Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, Minister of Education
and Information Nigel Carty, and UNESCO National Commission
Secretary General Antonio Maynard.
"If people did not know that
St, Kitts had historical records, then we wanted to
show them that we do in a way that was interesting,"
said National Archivist Victoria Borg-O'Flaherty,
addressing the creation of the historical Web site.
"What better way then, to tell
a story, or in this case several stories, and then
show some of the sources of the information? Histories
and some of the records connected with them will be
online for students to use, in the hope of encouraging
research into local history."
"But education does not stop
with graduation," she continued, "and we
hope that we can also get the attention of adults
who might not have had the opportunity to lean Kittitian
history in school. In public forums we often heard
people complain that they have never been taught this
kind of history in school. We have now made a start
in making it available."
Borg-O'Flaherty also explained that
archivists from around the world recognized the value
of their slave registers. She was eventually tasked
with developing one proposal submission to the regional
UNESCO Memory of the World Committee on behalf of
the region. The success of the proposal and its acceptance
led to the development of the Web site.
The Archivist equated the slave registries
listing with having a UNESCO World Heritage Site registration,
the only difference being that the former is specific
to records and libraries. Some of the actual slave
registry records were available for viewing by attendees.
According to Borg-O'Flaherty, the
St. Kitts Registry was originally established as a
reaction to the 1817 abolition of the slave trade.
The first registry was formulated in that year. Registries
were used as a tool by abolitionists to ensure that
no new slaves were smuggled in to the territory.
The Web site displays images showing the changes in
Basseterre over the years. There are many stored pictures
from the St. Kitts collection, in addition to clippings
from newspapers, and other items. The site is a work
in progress, with information being uploaded on a
UNESCO established the Memory of the
World Programme in 1992 to guard against "collective
amnesia" by calling for the preservation of valuable
archive holdings and library collections all over
the world to ensure their wide dissemination.