Thinking ahead towards heritage tourismMonday, September 20, 2021
An effort by Mr Constantine Bogle — a descendant of National Hero Mr Paul Bogle — to have the authorities agree on a designated day to commemorate the life of his legendary ancestor has stirred our interest.
As most Jamaicans will be aware, Mr Paul Bogle was the leader of the Morant Bay Rebellion in 1865. That insurrection — which sought justice, basic human rights, and economic improvement for poor, black people — ended with hundreds being killed. They included Mr Bogle and another national hero, Mr George William Gordon — both executed by British colonisers.
Now, Mr Constantine Bogle is proposing October 24 as a day for all Jamaicans to remember his ancestor specifically.
“Not necessarily a public holiday…” he tells us. Presumably, it could be tagged Paul Bogle Day, which would be separate from National Heroes' Day. Undoubtedly, a similar case could be made for all national heroes.
Commemorative days apart, it seems to this newspaper that Jamaicans need to get serious about celebrating and commemorating their history and the lives of those who paved the way.
We are pleased that Roxborough in Manchester and Blenheim in Hanover, birthplaces of national heroes Mr Norman Manley and Sir Alexander Bustamante, respectively, have been developed as museums. It appears that, despite challenges, the Government is on track to do similarly at Mr Marcus Garvey's birthplace in St Ann.
It seems to us that commemorative infrastructure, properly furnished with memorabilia, should be in place for all our national heroes. Birthplaces and so forth won't be always identifiable, but we expect that with the help of historians, descendants, and community, appropriate sites can be located and developed.
Obviously, the severely under-resourced National Heritage Trust which is responsible for the “promotion, preservation, and development of Jamaica's material cultural heritage” must be central.
Beyond national heroes, we know the Jamaica National Heritage Trust has officially declared heritage sites relating to other important people and happenings. We hear that birthplaces of former prime ministers Messrs Hugh Lawson Shearer and Sir Donald Sangster are official heritage sites.
In the case of Mr Shearer, people still live at the house in Trelawny. Sir Donald's birthplace at Mountainside in southern St Elizabeth is in ruins, but we are reliably informed it is not beyond repair.
Worth pursuing, we believe, is the status of historical sites relating to other former prime ministers and, indeed, others of high status such as legendary singers/musicians, sports men and women. Bear in mind that Nine Mile in St Ann, birthplace of Mr Robert Nesta Marley, is a must-see for many who visit Jamaica.
There is also Pinnacle, in St Catherine, which Rastafarians see as the birthplace of their philosophical and religious beliefs.
It's easy to say that in these times of crisis, dominated by the novel coronavirus, such thoughts as expressed here can't be on the front burner.
But there will be life after COVID-19. We think it makes sense to consider that with the Jamaican Diaspora in wealthy North America and Britain now into its sixth, seventh, eighth decade, younger folk of that lineage are becoming increasingly curious about their roots. It seems to us that down the road heritage tourism is certain to become a money spinner. We should prepare to maximise profitability.