It is quite inconceivable to imagine, that the Prime Minister, Of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, and his wife, Mrs Juliet Holness; are natives of Spanish Town. It is even more unimaginable to believe, that the Minister Of Culture,, is a sitting Member of Parliament for Spanish Town??
Why is this unimaginable and even inconceivable?
Because, the current state of the Nation’s Historical First Capital, despite being a Cultural and Historic Gold Mine, is in such a criminal state of dereliction, decay, and neglect, it is unbelievable that these three Powerhouses of this Administration, with such ties to the community, have been so negligent in their duties, charge, and responsibilities, instead of Spanish Town being a shining Jewel, of our history and progress, is home to warring gangs; one of the nation’s leading hotspot in the area of extortion; and a prime example of a failed municipality!
Let us accept one thing: The Jamaica Labour Party, as an institution, has always been shy of embracing the nation’s history, especially the chapters of slavery and post-slavery colonialism. It is as if, the Party has been actively seeking ways and means to whitewash, those chapters of our history, to the detriment of those who are the descendants of those who suffered the abuse, indignity, and trespass on their humanity, by those who profited from over 400 years of trafficking in Africans and benefiting from their enforced labour on their plantations.
We get it, a lot of the support for the JLP from pre-Independence, up until now, has been from the planter class. And yes, We accept that the early JLP was supported to protect their interests. But the time has come to cut that umbilical cord, in the interest of national growth and development.
Sometimes we cannot see the forest because of the trees, and a case in point is our obsession with selling Sea and Sand as our primary tourism assets, we have and continue to ignore our bountiful history and all the Culture it spawned, to our own peril.
How about, securing UNESCO recognition for Spanish Town as a World Heritage Site? How about Twinning with a Historical Spanish City, Like Madrid? How about actively preserving sections of the old city, as a tourist attraction? We could restrict vehicular traffic for some sections, and conduct pedestrian tours, as there’s much to see and show, the only thing holding us back is our lack of visionary insight as we should be exploiting our rich history, particularly our architectural and colonial heritage as embodied in such landmarks as:
Old King’s House.
Old House of Assembly.
Old Court House.
The Cathedral of St.
The Cenotaph. …
Old Barracks Building.
The Old Wrought Iron Bridge;
Tours To Flat Bridge
Emancipation Square: Is generally acclaimed to be the most impressive of its kind in the West Indies.
The Spanish Town Prison and Oval.
The fact is, here we are sitting on a Gold Mine, but those who should be leading the process, are blind to the wealth of possibilities, as it is clear that our Tourism Leaders and Policy Makers, are oblivious to the facts that the Millions of tourists who flock to London, Paris, And New York City each year, do not do so for the sea, but for the history.
We keep flogging the dying horse of Sea, Sand, and Sex while ignoring the bounties to be reaped in marketing and positioning our Cultural history, as potential big earners, because of the blindfold that prevents us from seeing the world as it is, and not through the colonial blinders that make us continue to sell subservience, as a virtue!
There are more globe trotters who travel because of history, as against those who travel for sea and sand. Some 2.5 million tourists visit Pompeii each year, making it one of Italy’s most popular attractions. And we here in Jamaica, continue to ignore Port Royal, and its rich history, tales of treachery, debauchery, and doomsday end, that saw it devoured by an earthquake, liquefaction and a tsunami – All selling points to pull in the international crowd.
And like Pompeii, when the Volcano Vesuvius struck, it did not take devour all. Port Royal is still left with the “Giddy House”; Fort Charles; The Old Hospital and many other ‘artifacts’. Including the Story of Louis Galdi.
The “Wickedest City On Earth”, Port Royal did not Disappear, it was repositioned and is now Underwater, ready to be explored and take its place as one of the World’s foremost Historical Tourist Attractions. After all, it was the home of Henry Morgan; as well as that of historical figures Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Two leading female Pirates of the era, who were reportedly as fierce, as their male counterparts, as Mistresses Of the Sea, women who defied stereotypical conventions, and dared to earn their place in history, as fearless pirates.
That they bequeathed us a history, of which we can be proud and should be cashing in on, but lack the wisdom, so to do, is an alarming dereliction. The same applies to Spanish Town and its history. But what makes the Case of Spanish Town that much more difficult pill to swallow, is that our Minister Of Culture, Is One Of its MPs’ and Both the Prime Minister and his Wife, She being an MP as well, are both natives of Spanish Town. Is it that they cannot see the potential of Their city, waiting to be awakened, and bring prosperity to its inhabitants, instead of allowing it to continue to be overtaken by crime and decay?