THE EDITOR: The recent trust to refurbish many of our national buildings, including the President’s House, Whitehall, other structures of the Magnificent Seven, and now the Red House has divided our nation.
Many have showered praises about boosted national pride. In contrast, others look on bitterly as they traverse pothole-ridden roads, struggle with crumbling healthcare infrastructure, and continue to be held hostage by the plague of crime and economic instability. Those in authority need to balance these views and take heed to all aspects of national development.
Many years ago, when I was an ambitious young person at Hillview College, I became part of the UNESCO club. I went on to represent TT in the International Youth Forum at UNESCO, where I learned the concept of tangible and intangible heritage.
Tangible heritage refers to that which can be objectified by the senses and include our buildings and infrastructure and objects of art. The many renovated projects, the paintings of Cazabon, and other items fall into this category.
Globally we know of the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, an initiative aimed at preserving these human achievements for modernity. Intangible heritage, on the other hand, refers to aspects of our culture that cannot be objectified and will include a more profound cultural heritage and viewpoint manifested through music, food, language, and even education. It is essential and must be preserved through the sustenance of the daily needs of a people, which many of our citizens desperately clamour.
It is also a hope of mine that the restoration of these heritage buildings in such a way that we can propose they become part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. Our country does not appear on this global list currently. The Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago remains on the tentative list of natural heritage sites. However, in other parts of the Caribbean, including Barbados and St Kitts, they can boast of such sites which become sites of interest not only nationally, but on the tourist radar as well.
To truly serve TT is to balance our tangible and intangible heritage equitably. While it is commendable that our tangible heritage is restored and maintained, it must not ignore the basic needs of a people. Else, they become not objects of pride, but instead white elephants, which invokes scorn from the masses looking on at them. A more significant accomplishment is to put the restored national heritage items to work so they can generate the intangible needs of our citizens. How can we make them accessible to all, generating income that will enrich the lives of all of our nation? I challenge our leaders to look at this.