Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Port Royal - a dump and more

Published:Tuesday | January 16, 2018 | 12:00 AM


I read with interest your editorial of Tuesday, January 9, 2018 titled 'The shame of Port Royal', in which the town is referred to as "an unkempt and often rubbish-strewn dump".

I had hoped that mention would also have been made of the open two-foot-deep drains which, when the tide is in, are full of bilge and filth. On moonlit nights, these drains take on the appearance of walkways in the ill-lit town, and there have been cases of unsuspecting visitors stepping waist-high into their stench.

Mention is made in your editorial of the fact that Robert Stephens, for a quarter-century or more, has been "peddling his vision for the redevelopment of Port Royal US$500 million to transform the 17th (really 18th-) century British naval base into a cruise ship and heritage attraction". It would be good if at this point, Mr Stephens could again explain what he perceives to be the true history of Port Royal, which he intends to promote.

Are themes of 'the rambunctious pirate city where Henry Morgan held court' and the British naval base of Napoleonic times adequate topics for such immense expenditure in the 21st century, when more and more it is becoming clear that Port Royal was indeed the slave entrepÙt of the American continents?

For the English royals, Charles II and James II, the capture of Jamaica by Cromwellian forces in 1655 was certainly opportune, as five years later, the island provided them with a good base from which to operate their Royal African Company (RAC). The RAC was expressly for the purpose of transporting enslaved persons first from the continent of Africa to Port Royal, Jamaica, and second, to the slave markets of South and North America.

The history of Port Royal deserves to be put in its true context, and in all fairness to the citizens of present Port Royal (Port Royalists, as they prefer to be called), it should be pointed out that they have little or nothing to do with the shame of the past about which historians have too long been silent.

Port Royalists are hard-working members of our society who enjoy the unique maritime atmosphere of their town and, like other Jamaicans, have high hopes for their community in the 21st century.