A number of activities have been organized by the National Parks Authority geared at increasing awareness about its ground-breaking research project into the contribution of former enslaved Africans and soldiers to the development of the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park.
The enduring legacy of our people dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries has been the subject of a genealogical research initiative led by the Park’s Heritage Department.
It has uncovered priceless details about these early contributors to an invaluable area of Antigua’s landscape, including the events of 8th of March, 1744, where the lives of eight enslaved African men were tragically lost during an explosion of a tent where gunpowder was being stored in English Harbour.
That discovery inspired the Heritage Department to intensify its research and the names of many more Africans were discovered.
It prompted the community-driven and interdisciplinary research undertaking known today as the 8th of March Project.
“The project is today seeking to help the present members of the English Harbour community to connect with a past that dates back centuries ago. It is providing a generation today with resources of information that can be used for generations to come,” explained Parks Commissioner Mrs. Ann Marie Martin.
“This is why we are seeking to deepen our engagement with the people around us so we can learn their stories and they in turn can hear and benefit from what we have discovered,” she explained.
The highlight activity of the 8th of March programme will therefore feature a Community Genealogy Workshop this year, bringing our researchers to face to face with community members for an open and free exchange of thoughts and information about our findings and their history.
The workshop will take place on two separate days, the first taking place on Wednesday 8th March and the second on Wednesday 15th March, both starting at 6 pm at the Cobbs Cross School.
A number of schools have also been targeted in an educational outreach exercise where the Heritage Department team will share the results of their ongoing efforts with History, Biology, and Social Studies students.
“This initiative serves a two-fold purpose. We also see it as an ideal opportunity to sensitize the students about the various skills and possible professions that are to be found in heritage management and preservation,” Manager of the Heritage Department Dr. Christopher Waters revealed.
The National Park’s increasingly popular Rum in the Ruins tour will feature highly as part of the activities with two specially themed tours.
The first one on Friday 3rd of March will take place at the usual venue at the Interpretation Centre at Dow Hill and the second will take place at the Block House ruins.
A schedule of media activities has also been prepared to satisfy the interest of members of the wider public about the activities and the project in general.