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JA Culture ministry restoring heritage sites, opening museums


ROXBOROUGH, Manchester, Jamaica, July 4, 2013 - Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna says her Ministry is now actively implementing its plan to redevelop several heritage sites and to create more museums where the people of Jamaica and visitors to the country can learn about our history, heritage and culture.

Speaking yesterday at the opening of the permanent exhibition on the life and work of National Hero, Rt. Excellent Norman Washington Manley at his birthplace at Roxborough in Manchester, Minister Hanna said Roxborough will be followed by the official opening of the redeveloped Seville Heritage Site and Museum in St. Ann on July 12, and the opening of the Rastafari Exhibition at the expanded and rebranded National Museum of Jamaica in Kingston by the end of July.

The heritage sites and museums are being redeveloped and opened in time to mark the 51st anniversary of Jamaica’s political Independence and the 175th anniversary of the full freedom from slavery.

The Culture Minister described the redevelopment of Roxborough as the result of vision, leadership, collaboration, as well as the product of cultural, community and national pride. The restoration was spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth and Culture through its agency, the National Heritage Trust, as part of an Inter-Ministerial team which included the Ministry of Tourism and its agency, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), and the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing.

The JEEP Secretariat of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing managed and monitored the project, with the executing and implementing entity being the Manchester Parish Council. This collaboration also involved the South Coast Resort Board.

This first phase of the restoration of this property was done with TEF funding of a little over $10 million. The JNHT will continue to spearhead the other phases of the redevelopment at Roxborough as well as at other heritage properties.

It is in this context that Minister Hanna spoke of the work which the Ministry of Youth and Culture is undertaking through the JNHT with funding from the TEF and the Spanish Jamaica Foundation for the restoration of the Seville property and museum, which will host the Emancipation Vigil on July 31.

“As Minister with responsibility for Culture I have resolved that places associated with the work and life of our National Heroes and national icons must be preserved and maintained: They must be made to help us as signposts along the journey to our better selves,” Minister Hanna said while speaking at Roxborough.

She urged that the collaborative framework that led to the first phase of redevelopment of the property in honour of Norman Manley, be used as the template for further development at Roxborough as well as at other heritage sites across the country. “We have perfected a model of cooperation and collaboration in getting things done and getting them done well,” she pointed out.

She expressed the view that Roxborough would enshrine the story of the social, political and economic transformation that Norman Manley helped to create in Jamaica.

The permanent exhibition there, she said, must herald the symbolic resonance of Independence and nationhood that  Manley relentlessly advocated even while others were content with Jamaica remaining in the grip of colonial domination and control.

She spoke too of the late National Hero’s selflessness and sense of sacrifice in using his own money to fund Jamaica Welfare in 1937, as an institution of community empowerment that she said gave hope, skills and purpose to many men, women and youth and served as the forerunner to the Social Development Commission.

“For this and so many other important reasons we give thanks on the 120th anniversary of birth of Norman Washington Manley for this place that gave him to us – a man with a vision of Jamaica in which the people would be free to govern themselves and achieve the social and economic promise of their freedom. We are truly thankful for this great Patriot and son of the Jamaican soil,” Minister Hanna added.