Talking history: Youngsters eager to learn about their past
Robyn Miller, Contributor
"History is the landmark by which we are directed into the true course of life."
- Marcus Mosiah Garvey
These words have been echoed every Saturday for the last year by Professor Verene Shepherd, as she sears her message on the minds of listeners to her radio show, Talking History.
The programme, which cele-brated its first anniversary recently, saw a convergence of history lovers of all ages for yet another history lesson, this time on the roof terrace of Nationwide News Network on Mannings Hill Road.
L'Acadco Drummers set the stage for a sizzling morning which was interspersed with the reverberating sounds of conga drums and the colourful agility of the L'Acadco Dancers.
The ensemble's founder and co-host of the anniversary show, Dr L'Antoinette Stines, explained that the group was also called Drum Explosion, its name derived from its unending burst of energy which at times rouses fear into the dancers.
"The dancers are very scared of them sometimes because they explode so much that they don't want to come on after they've played."
The students, in a segment of the show called 'what's in a name', articulated a common message in expressing what history means to them.
Rodjé Malcolm of Ardenne High School said: "I believe that history is important because it allows us to identify with ourselves, know who we are as a people, and where we are going and, I think, as Caribbean people we need to know who we are and this programme does just that."
Another member of the audience from Immaculate Conception High School said: "Talking History is important because it informs you of your past".
She went on to say, "it is important to know what our ancestors did for us because, without knowing, we won't know what we are here to do."
In observance of the theme, the showpiece of the event - a debating competition - featuring Ardenne High School and St Andrew High School For Girls, provided much stimulation for the appreciative audience, as the pair of Yakum Fitz-Henley and Rodjé Malcolm dug deep into their reserves to beat out their opponents.
The moot, 'Dance is the most prominent of our African heritage', saw the students dissecting the various dance forms in the Caribbean, highlighting their importance to the countries in the region - from the pelvic thrusts of the dinki mini and Brukins in Jamaica to bongo in Trinidad, benga in Belize, goombay in Bahamas and Ibo in Haiti. The four-foot-something fifth-former, Fitz-Henley, provided well researched and compelling arguments to win the 'best speaker' award.
Stines, who co-judged the debate with Barbara Lalla, a lecturer in the Department of Language & Literature at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus, and author of the recently published book, Cascade, said she was pleased with the teams' level of preparation.
"Both teams provided very good information, but Ardenne clearly did good research and gave a lot of information that validated their points" she said.
Talking History, which covers several topics in the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)/CSEC syllabus had a series of outside broadcasts throughout 2010 involving rural and Corporate Area schools such as St Hilda's High, Brown's Town Community College, The Queen's School, St Hugh's, Ardenne High, Wolmer's Boys' School, and Wolmer's Girls' School among others and has continued the broadcasts into 2011, backed by sponsors UWI, Mona, Sangster's Book Stores and Carlong Publishers.
Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner, host Professor Shepherd noted that while she could not say with any degree of authority how far-reaching the programme was, it had gained significant popularity among a wide demography of listeners, particularly students, many of whom had logged on to its website and Facebook page to voice their support.