National Archives launches its commemoration of the
International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024
The National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago (NATT), a Division of the Ministry of Public Administration and Communications, launched its commemoration of the International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024, by celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Merikins and the re-publication of the seminal work by Dr. Maureen Warner Lewis’ “Guinea’s Other Suns” on 28 April, 2016.
The event, which was held in collaboration with the Merikins Heritage Foundation and the Emancipation Support Committee, supported NATT’s outreach programme and ongoing efforts to build an inclusive history and archives for Trinidad and Tobago. The feature address was delivered by Kurt Meyer, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration and Communications, on behalf of Minister Maxie Cuffie. A keynote address was delivered by Dr. Heather Cateau, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Education, UWI, St Augustine, while Maureen Warner-Lewis, Professor Emerita, UWI, Mona,Jamaica spoke on her revised publication. Other speakers included Khafra Kambon, Chair, Emancipation Support Committee, Akilah Jaramogi, Director, Merikins Heritage Foundation, and Avril Belfon, Government Archivist, National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago.
The re-publication of Dr. Warner-Lewis’ book and her presentation at the event, brought focus to the contributions of the Merikins as free Africans, as well as other Africans who came to Trinidad and Tobago, and their legacy.
The Merikins who settled in the Company Villages in South Trinidad, are descendants of former African-American slaves from the Southern USA who fought on the side of the British in the Corps of Colonial Marines, during the War of 1812 in the US, in exchange for their freedom.
The exhibition “Celebrating the Merikins: our heritage, our faith, our future” was officially opened and will continue at the National Archives until 20 May 2016. The institution also launched its initiative to build a Merikins Collection by acquiring copies of archival records held by Merikins as well as copies held in other repositories.