The issue of destruction of historical sites on Nevis has surfaced again with the recent destruction at the historical Slave Market site in Charlestown, prompting historical conservationists to voice concern over the incident.
In a press statement by the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society (NHCS) on July 23, 2021, the society registered its alarm with the act.
“On behalf of Nevis citizens and residents, we are alarmed by the recent destruction at the historical Slave Market site in Charlestown. Nevis is unique as a ‘living museum‘ dotted with hundreds if not thousands of sites, structures and antiquities. The sites represent an important – even if painful – legacy of our enslaved ancestors; they are testament to their hard work and must be protected and preserved for future generations,” the statement said.
The NHCS also reminded that the destruction of historic buildings, sites or monuments – even when privately owned – is a punishable offence and it is urging members of the public to report any damage, destruction or theft of stones to the society, even anonymously.
Meantime, Mrs. Evelyn Henville, Chairman of the Nevis World Heritage Committee, also expressed dissatisfaction with the destruction.
“We are truly saddened at the end result of the slave wall coming down. It is a place that is highly sacred and it is also extremely important to what we are doing in World Heritage, and so it was very disappointing to see that happen. The Director of Physical Planning stated that there were no permissions granted.
“An application for a permit should have been made given the fact that this site as well as numerous sites in Charlestown are protected in the Nevis Zoning Plan Ordinance under Charlestown Historic Area and Conservation Area,” she said.
Mrs. Henville also spoke of the wall’s significance to the island’s quest for UNESCO World Heritage designation.
“It is an extremely important aspect of the enslavement period of our forefathers. It is an extremely important aspect of the World Heritage theme. Our theme with regard to World Heritage is ‘Nevis an early Colonial Caribbean Agro Industrial landscape’ and as such the enslavement period of our forefathers plays a big role in this theme.
“As we have stated, we have to get past the chains and the pains and we have to show the universal value of the enslavement period and its contribution to the development of the developed world, and as such this slave wall and where the barber shop is located and that green space in-between the FLOW office and Octagon [Bar] are all crucial aspects of what we are researching and recommending for World Heritage and must be respected and conserved,” she said.
Mrs. Henville further added that “the owner sought assistance over the years with conservation of the wall which has been showing damage for years, but to no avail from the relevant authorities. The owner has promised to secure the stones and we all must partner with him to erect this very critical part of our history. It is imperative that all Nevisians become involved in protecting this heritage,” she said.