In an age characterised by globalisation, modernisation and digitisation, it is quite easy for some facets of our culture and traditions to become lost. In an attempt to safeguard our treasure troves, we, the people, entrust their safe keeping to age-old repositories – museums and expect that our officials will be in the vanguard of that protection. We have witnessed globally, time and time again, attempts to snuff out, stifle and even kill aspects of history and culture. This is evident now more than ever when technologies threaten to destroy the existence of traditional cultures.The recent announcement by the Ministry of the Presidency of a proposed relocation of the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, without public consultations, had brought the threat of cultural annihilation closer to home. This repository holds in safe keeping artefacts dating back 7200 years; this is a veritable warehouse of history and knowledge! It is also purported to be the oldest such museum in the English-speaking Caribbean. The museum is a fountain of knowledge. In addition to the traditional museum tour for visitors, there is a wealth of brochures, pamphlets, and even post cards available. It even houses a library which comprises scholarly works focused on the indigenous people of the Caribbean. These resources are heartily utilised by local and foreign researchers alike.It was only after many concerned Guyanese voiced opposition to this proposed relocation – most notably, the co-founder of the Museum, Jennifer Wishart, who underscored the irrevocable damage that can be done if this ill-advised plan was executed that the decision was reconsidered. She had pointed to the fact that we simply do not possess “the expertise required” for the removal of such delicate and very ancient artefacts. Why then would any Government, organisation or institution proceed with such an action when the risks are so high? To lose even a fraction of that stored history would be a national tragedy. More so, to proceed with the announced relocation plans in light of the risks, because it suits someone’s fancy or is a better use of space is unconscionable.Most noteworthy as the situation unfolded last week, and the issue took centre stage, the Amerindian leaders themselves at the National Tosahos Conference took a strong stand and voiced their reservations and concerns regarding the matter. This prompted Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine last Wednesday to give assurance that no decisions would be made to move the historical museum until consultations were held with museum staff and stakeholders, including the leaders of the 212 indigenous villages.This announcement was obviously met with resounding applause from the indigenous leaders. Consultation should have been done from the inception.Elsewhere in the world, museums are positioned to serve as one of the cornerstones of any national effort to preserve anthropological records; however, it is clear from this Administration’s announcements and subsequent actions that much more needs to be done to strengthen synergies as we strive to preserve and protect our indigenous history and culture which are vital to the indigenous sense of identity.Understanding ancient lifestyles undoubtedly empowers communities of today, we, therefore, need to focus on protection and preservation rather than relocation, and we urge our officials to consider the priceless artefacts and the historical value of all that is at stake.
1 The Belgian national team have cancelled Tuesday’s scheduled training session out of respect for the victims of the Brussels attacks.Belgium are set to play Portugal in an international friendly at Brussels’ King Baudouin Stadium on Tuesday, March 29, but the fixture is now in doubt following suspected terrorist bomb attacks in the nation’s capital.Brussels Airport was rocked by a double blast on Tuesday morning while another blast was reported by local media at a Metro station in the city. Several people are feared dead with many more injured.A tweet from the Belgian team’s official account, @BelRedDevils, read: “#tousensemble, our thoughts are with the victims. Football is not important today. Training cancelled.”Barclays Premier League players including Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen and Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet have conveyed messages of alarm and support through Twitter.Seventy-four time Belgium centre-back Vertonghen wrote: “Can’t believe I’m reading these things again…” while Mignolet tweeted: “#Zaventem” in reference to the location of Brussels Airport.Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj added: “Horrible to see what is going on in Brussels #Zaventem”Elsewhere, Derdryck Boyata of Celtic wrote: “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims #zaventem”
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