Pinnacle — satisfying the demands of history

Pinnacle — satisfying the demands of history

Sunday, February 09, 2014

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The story of Pinnacle, said to be the birthplace of Rastafari and of the late Mr Leonard Howell — who is credited as the founder of the movement — isn't, by any means, only about Rastas. Crucially, it provides an important chapter or more in the extraordinary history of the Jamaican people.

For this newspaper, that is the important element that none of us should ignore. Even for non-Rastafaris, preservation of Rastafarian heritage should be of great importance.

In that regard, whatever happens as a result of the court battle over land tenure at Pinnacle — now in the Court of Appeal — the State has a responsibility to ensure that there is a suitable and substantial marker in whatever form to satisfy the demands of history.

Of course, it's not only about history or respect for Rastafari culture as of themselves. Those with an entrepreneurial bent will recognise Rastafari heritage as one with enormous potential for tourism. The fact is that Rastafarianism is a subject of fascination of global proportions, and we envision Pinnacle, adorned with an appropriate museum etc, becoming a site of great interest for many visitors. Hopefully, when the legal dust is all settled, such an ideal will become possible.

It's not just about Pinnacle, of course. All across Jamaica sites of historic value have been all but forgotten — some falling apart or overcome by vegetation.

One such is the birthplace of the late Prime Minister Sir Donald Sangster in Mountainside, south-west St Elizabeth, about which this newspaper has reported.

Obviously, in these hard economic times, heritage sites come way down the ladder on the Government's list of priorities. This is where partnerships, involving "joined-up" governance by the various departments of the State alongside the private sector, can make a difference.

Where there is a will, there is a way. That was proven last year by the impressive initiative by tourism agencies, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, the Ministry of Culture, the Manchester Parish Council, and others to transform the birthplace of National Hero Norman Manley at Roxborough into a proper museum.

Communities, too, can help themselves by seeking to preserve and promote places of historical importance in their midst, including family cemeteries and old buildings. The anecdotal evidence suggests that many among the younger generation of Jamaica's diverse and fast-growing Diaspora with cash in their pockets have a longing to connect with their roots.

Leaders of the New River community in north-east St Elizabeth, for example, are actively moving to preserve cemeteries and other sites of historical value left by German and other European immigrants 200 years ago.

Jamaicans are at a stage in their fascinating, complex and colourful history when they need to start thinking of ways to profit from it.

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