SPEAKING for the Prime Minister, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly promised to try to preserve all forms of heritage and hoped the works of all TT's PMs would be digitally preserved, as done for the country's first prime minister. She spoke for Dr Rowley on Thursday evening at the Central Bank in Port of Spain at an event titled Preserving the intellectual legacy of Dr Eric Williams through digitisation.
The event launched an online collection of Williams' works now accessible at the website https://ericwilliams.gov.tt/
"The fruits of this exercise show on one hand, as a Government, we are leading the preservation of unquestionable artifacts of historical heritage in the form of over 200 speeches and letters from Trinidad and Tobago’s first prime minister, Dr Eric Williams."
She said future technology brought these speeches to life and ensured their accessibility for future generations.
"In essence, our past and future are virtually meeting at this crossroad, and the journey is just beginning."
Gadsby-Dolly said if TT did not maintain its historical treasures, it faced one of two options.
"Either someone else will definitely preserve them for us – which does not guarantee that we will have the access to them that we will need – or they will go the way of ash and dust, to be scattered by the wind, only remaining as friable fragments in our nation’s memory.
"Believe me when I tell you, all of our national treasures, from our buildings, national landmarks, art, music, cultural artifacts and more are as fragile as the parchment from which Dr Williams’ speeches are being digitalised."
She vowed to try to preserve things that emboldened TT's sense of pride and patriotism.
"Dr Eric Williams’ speeches provide insights into the struggles and aspirations of not only TT, but of the Caribbean people during a pivotal period of our history. "Opening access to his vision allows all of us to see ourselves in our current time, broadening our understanding of what it takes to overcome, understanding the need for a bold vision and action to make our dreams manifest."
Gadsby-Dolly said these messages of inspiration, resilience, and national pride were still needed today.
"His speeches, both as a political leader and a scholar, are of interest to researchers, historians, and other scholars studying the Caribbean, colonialism, and post-colonialism." Anyone, anywhere can now access one of the largest collections of Williams’ speeches (1957-1981).
"Paper records are vulnerable to many hazards including water damage and flooding, fire, human error; even atmospheric pressure and other elements of the weather are destructive variables. "Digital copies, if properly stored, guarantee that irreplaceable information remains retrievable if a site disaster leads to loss of analogue formats." His life and words were still significant, she said, saying today's TT bears the indelible mark of his leadership.
"Our younger politicians would be well advised to read the speeches of Dr Eric Williams, words which will help guide and shape their context and understanding of public service, and of the journey TT has taken to arrive at this juncture in our development."
She quoted Williams's call to youngsters on Independence eve in 1962.
“The nation is on the march. There is no turning back.
"To your tender and loving hands the future of the nation is entrusted. On your scholastic development the salvation of the Nation is dependent.
"You carry the future of Trinidad and Tobago in your school bags.”
Gadsby-Dolly said the project should immortalise speeches by all other our national leaders.
"Beyond the cut and thrust of politics, the words of our leaders hold great value and significance, and we should use them much more in our own speeches, and in national conversation. Let it become the norm to use our local quotes, instead of foreign ones, in our speeches.
"Our leaders have provided enough inspirational words over the years, to provide us with deep and impactful statements, suitable for our contemplation, inspiration, and motivation." She said digital technology helped national development by way of communication, business, governance, education and heritage preservation.
"Learn and grow from the contents of the over two hundred speeches. Use local quotes – words spoken by our leaders, birthed in a shared experience.
"In order to understand today, we have to sometimes search yesterday. We now have the means to do so."