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Remind leaders of strengths of diversity
Leaders tend to forget their core role to hold communities together and not to divide and create strife. It is left to social groups and individuals to remember the strengths of diversity and not join in the feeding frenzy of divisiveness, urged heritage educator and author of Finding a Place, Through the Political glass Ceiling and LiTTscapes— Landscapes of Fiction, Dr Kris Rampersad.
Dr Rampersad is on a month-long heritage LiTTour that features LiTTributes to the Americas and to Toronto, inspired by her book, LiTTscapes and advancing research on a new publication on interconnections among pre- and post- colonial global cultures which she hopes will redirect and refresh the discourse about cultural heritage.
Her interventions have been welcomed by educators, culture workers and faith groups including Rev Fr Terry Gallagher of the Scarboro Mission in Toronto, former Deacon of the Anglican Church Rev Winston Joseph and others of the Hindu, Muslim, Presbyterian and other faiths.
Her comments come in light of the call by Archbishop Jason Gordon and others for the cultivation of respect among groups in the face of growing dissension between faith groups.
She noted that sometimes leaders adopt a colonial mindset and use institutions to divide and rule, but groups must remember their strengths when they came together in their journey to independence, “which is the fabric on which our societies are built.”
She said: “Upheavals during adjustment and adaptation to a new society is normal to the process of migration,” noting the need to cultivate respect for each other and that parents must be sensitive to problems of adjustments by their children to stem eruption into violence or extremism. She described her intimate mapping of the process of migration and adaptation to a diverse society including preservation of indigenous traditions in her first book Finding a Place, and efforts to represent through photographs the many strands of that diversity including the heritage in food, architecture, festivals, various games, pastimes, lifestyles and habits that are embedded in landscapes described by almost 100 fiction writers in LiTTscapes.
Dr Rampersad is a UNESCOtrained heritage educator, and former president of the UNESCO Education Commission and vice president and independent member of its international intergovernmental committee on the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
She has also helped prepare the global agendas and action plans for World Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage and has been part of recent successful efforts to enhance the visibility of Caribbean countries on the World Heritage and other international heritage listings.
The LiTTributes have attracted educators, media, interreligious and intercultural leaders and others who have expressed interest in collaborating to and to deepen the celebration of arrivals during heritage month in North America and Canada. Dr Rampersad shared research and knowledge into processes of globalisation and migration that initially saw all the continents of the world flock to the small islands during the colonial process. In onward ‘global movements’ — the title of the last section in LiTTscapes—similar processes of adaptation and adjustments are evident, she said, explaining that migrants can use their experiences of diversity to help their new societies struggling to understand and accommodate new cultures.
Among its hundreds of inscriptions, LiTTscapes features writers as early as Sr Walter Raleigh in 1595 to contemporary authors from the diaspora in North America, Canada and Europe, including the Nobel Laureates Derek Walcott, Sir Vidia Naipaul, others highly acclaimed as Samuel Selvon whom Google recently celebrated with a Google Doodle as well as many writing from ‘home’. Passages from LiTTscapes have also been reinterpreted into song, dance and music at various LiTTributes.
Many shared their own issues of adjusting to new society as well as concerns about ongoing threats of disruption at home.
Addressing the theme Mothers, Motherlands and MotherCultures at the LiTTribute to ToronTTo hosted by the Zoomers Association, Dr Rampersad said while Europe, Africa, Asia–India & China, Syria, Lebanon might have been the motherland of those coming to the Caribbean, and the more diverse societies like T&T, these have become the motherlands of those who have since migrated out of the Caribbean to North America, Canada, Europe and elsewhere.
“It used to be that the Motherlands were Africa and India and Europe, but to the more recent migrants from the Caribbean to North America and Canada and even to Europe, India and Africa, the islands are motherlands, and the migrants are taking Caribbean cultures and helping to preserve practices that are waning at home,” said Rampersad.
At a Celebration of Arrivals, hosted by the T&T Diaspora in the LiTTribute to the Americas, Rampersad commended the right to fete spirit saying that out of the wounds of oppression of slavery and indentureship, it has helped people forget their differences and celebrate their common human spirit and this is now translated into Carnivals and other festivals transposed to other societies to which they have migrated.
“So you have earned the right to fete, as well as to use and share the experiences of adapting and adjusting to a new society and help other communities here to adjust too,” she said.
Dr Rampersad anticipates ongoing transfer of knowledge and experience of migration though LiTTributes inspired by LiTTscapes in Europe and Asia and a series called LiTTea to be launched in the Caribbean in the near future.
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